Nottingham Lions 7 Deeside Dragons 1.
The Nottingham Lions began 2015 in style, with a convincing win over the Deeside Dragons at the National Ice Centre on Sunday evening.
The victory saw Lions move up one place to fifth in the NIHL Laidler D2 standings, level on points with the fourth-placed Dragons,after braces from Connor Glossop, Christy Johnson-Brown and Craig Wallis, along with a single Stuart Parker strike, eased Matt Bradbury's side towards the two points.
Christy Johnson-Brown was one of three Lions players to score two goals against the Dragons.
Nottingham entered the game having been in good form before the festive break, winning four of their last five matches in 2014 and were buoyed by the return of new-signing Elliot Perrin, whilst head coach Bradbury also welcomed the return of d-men Craig Wallis and Adam Andrews, who had both enjoyed much-needed recuperation after missing the pre-Christmas win over Bradford.
Top-scoring Latvian forward Ivo Dimitrijevs remained sidelined along with Reece Glossop and Ben Foster-Wilson but once again, Bradbury was able to call upon some of the junior club's talented Under-18s, icing Connor Glossop, Hamish Hall, Luke Evans and Joe Gretton.
The Lions had previously succumbed to two narrow losses against Deeside so far during their campaign and this was clearly preying on Nottingham minds, as they came out and dominated the opening period, scoring three unanswered goals and if it wasn't for the heroics of Dominic Jolly in the Dragons' net, the game may have already been out of the Welshmen's sight after just twenty minutes of play.
Connor Glossop opened the scoring on the power play after five minutes before Parker doubled the home advantage seven minutes later, again with the man advantage.
Glossop then bagged his second of the night and tenth of the season sixty seconds later, after some marvellous interplay between the youngster and his veteran line-mate Parker saw the Lions breakaway and net a short-handed third, leaving the visitors with a big task to try and turn around the game in the following forty minutes.
Elliot Perrin made an impressive return to the team, claiming the Man Of The Match award.
As expected, Deeside came out with all guns blazing in the second period, with Nottingham goalie Tom Hovell having to be at his best to prevent the Dragons getting back into the game early doors but the Welsh side did find their opener on twenty-eight minutes, when Chris Jones' shot took a wicked deflection off the body of Gretton and past Hovell, who would have been odds-on to deal with the initial shot comfortably.
Bradbury's side seemed to let their momentum slip during large parts of the period, looking pedestrian and disjointed at times but gave themselves a welcome boost with three minutes left, as Johnson-Brown scrambled a loose puck home, right on top of the crease.
Two minutes after the restart and following all his antics in the first period, Deeside goalie Jolly then gifted the Lions a fifth goal, when a shot from Johnson-Brown took a deflection of a defender before trickling under the stick of the custodian, despite having plenty of time to re-set himself after the nick from his teammate. The visiting coaches then quickly signalled that a change in netminding personnel was required for the Dragons.
Six minutes later, Nottingham scored a sixth, courtesy of Wallis, who made the most of a five-on-three power play advantage, to effectively end the game as a contest. The d-man turned forward then finished off the rout with three minutes remaining, cooly capitalising a one-on-one breakaway to net the Lions' seventh.
Craig Wallis scored two third period goals on his returned from injury.
The win keeps Nottingham right in the chase for a top four play off spot and also means that they can still secure a head-to-head advantage over the Dragons, with the best of four series now standing at 2-1 to the Welsh outfit.
The Lions now look to continue their winning start to the year, as they host their Midlands rivals Coventry Blaze at the NIC next Sunday (11th January) Face off is at 7.30pm and ticket details for what promises to be a fiercely contested derby clash are available by clicking here.
Photographs courtesy of Peter McConnochie / Urban Scot Photography.
Connor Glossop 2+0, Stuart Parker 1+2, Christy Johnson-Brown 2+0, Craig Wallis 2+0, Ben Wood 0+2, Luke Evans 0+1.
Period Scores: 1st 3-0, 2nd 1-1, 3rd 3-0.
Shots: 1st 10-8, 2nd 8-15, 3rd 13-10. Total 31-33.
Penalty Mins: 1st 4-6, 2nd 0-2, 3rd 2-14. Total 6-22.
Lions MOTM (sponsored by Ice Breakers): Elliot Perrin.