The Nottingham Lions began their season with a well-earned 7-4 victory over a feisty Fylde Flyers side at the Sub Zero Ice Rink on the Lancashire coast yesterday evening.
The Lions gave debuts to the likes of Jamie Hovell and newly appointed Captain Luke Thomas and they had to overcome a tricky first period where they found themselves two goals down as they went on to win by a three-goal margin helped by an Ollie Betteridge hat-trick.
A short handed strike by Bobby Caunce on eight minutes followed by a Kurtis Hall goal a minute later put the Flyers in the driving seat over a Nottingham side who seemed to struggle to get to grips with the rinks’ smaller ice surface in the first period.
With five minutes remaining in the first, Michael Rose sent out a statement of intent for the next period as the Lions forward dominated a fight with Dan Jones following a scramble for the puck in front of Sam Gospel’s goal.
That intent was quickly realised just fifteen seconds into the second period as Ollie Betteridge fired home for his first senior goal for the Lions.
A power play goal from Mark Gillingham restored Fylde’s two-goal advantage seventy seconds later before Nottingham took hold of the period with three unanswered strikes from Betteridge and first Lions goals for Craig Wallis and Jack Baveystock.
Elliot Perrin left the ice injured late on in the second period after colliding with the boards and he will be hoping the damage wont be as serious as the injury that ruled him out of last season with just two games played.
The game was certainly still either teams’ for the taking going into the third and it was Flyers’ John Boswell who tied the game at four with just a minute gone.
The Lions class and fitness then proceed to give them the edge over their tiring opponents with Ben Wood putting Nottingham back into the lead before some classy handywork from Joe Wightman put the game beyond Fylde’s reach.
There was still time for Ollie Betteridge to complete his first senior hat-trick with four minutes left on the clock as the Lions eased over the finish line.
All-in-all, a good win for the Lions after a shaky first period and an impressive display from the Flyers.
Nottingham now have two-weeks before their next game when they entertain Hull Stingrays at the National Ice Centre on Sunday 16th September (7.15pm Faceoff).
Ollie Betteridge 3+1, Craig Wallis 1+0, Jack Baveystock 1+0, Ben Wood 1+3, Joe Wightman 1+2, Gareth O’Flaherty 0+1, Luke Thomas 0+1, Michael Rose 0+2, Joseph Steeples 0+1.
Period Scores: 1st 2-0, 2nd 1-4, 3rd 1-3.
Shots On Goal: Flyers-Lions – 1st 18-17, 2nd 14-29, 3rd 16-21. Total 48-67.
Penalty Minutes: 1st 6-18, 2nd 6-6, 3rd 0-20. Total 12-44.
Lions MVP: Ollie Betteridge.
LionsTV interviews with Lions and Flyers players and coaches to follow…..