Lions Claw Back Well-Earned Draw at Deeside
After a two-week lay-off, the Nottingham Lions continued their unbeaten run in the league with a hard-fought draw against Deeside Dragons last night at the Deeside Ice Rink.
The game was a mixture of physicality and counter attacks, creating a scintillating spectacle for the fans, being everything you would hope for from a clash between two of the league’s top sides.
Superb individual performances from goalies Sam Gospel (Lions) and David Clancy (Dragons) prevented the score line from escalating, as they continually frustrated the opposing teams’ forwards with astounding saves time after time.
The game began with spirited displays from both sides, with Deeside reveling in their size advantage and attempting to bully a stubborn Lions side into submission. However, despite an enthusiastic start, the first period failed to produce a score until the final minute, with the Dragons’ Richard Hughes capitalizing on a Power Play opportunity to give his side the lead 1-0 going into the second period.
After a rather tame first period, and with only one goal separating the sides, the game looked to be up for the taking.
Thankfully, to the delight of the fans, the second period produced far more attacking vigor.
Unfortunately, the Lions were on the receiving end yet again in the twenty second minute, as Simon Furnival gave the Dragons a two goal advantage.
This, however, seemed to stir up a fire in the Lions, and they retaliated a little over thirty seconds later, with a goal from Gareth O’Flarthy bringing the score to 2-1.
With renewed confidence, the Lions took the game to the Dragons, and started to match their physical presence in the rink. Tempers even boiled over in the twenty-fourth minute, when a brawl erupted between the Lions’ Michael Rose and Deeside’s Michael Jones after Rose’s casual check of the opposition’s goalie went down unappreciated.
Rose’s resulting four plus two minute penalty left the Lions temporarily weakened. With the Dragons’ testosterone boiling over, they looked to impose themselves on the game once more. Yet the Lions remained strong in their resolve, and held on to close out the second period trailing 2-1.
The third period, though, served up a nail-biting finish and had the crowd on the edge of their seats.
It didn’t look good for the Lions at the end of the forty-fourth minute, when the Dragons’ Richard Hughes netted his second of the match to give the Dragons a seemingly convincing lead, eliciting a gleeful response from the home crowd.
Any ominous feeling that third goal created in the Lions camp was swiftly erased a mere minute later, as Ben Wood hit back with a superb goal that had the Lions breathing down the back of the Dragons’ necks once more.
Ollie Betteridge then stunned the Dragons fans to silence at the end of fourty-sixth minute, with an equalizing shot. Deeside looked flabbergasted at the sudden turn of events- the Lions had stamped their authority on a game in which they had looked dead and buried in the space of about three minutes.
More hard-hitting play ensued for the final thirteen minutes of the game, with both sides opting for a gung ho style, clearly both of the opinion that they deserved the full two points.
The Dragons came closest to clinching the win, with one shot in the fifty-sixth minute bringing the fans to their feet as it rocketed off the top of Sam Gospel’s goalpost.
Pictured Michael Rose (An unhappy chappy)
However, despite, strong attacking displays from both teams in the final ten minutes creating an electric atmosphere, it was ultimately not to be for either team, as the game ended in a 3-3 draw.
Overall though, the point will be appreciated by the Lions after a tough away game against the early-season promotion favourites.
It’s safe to say that Nottingham more than made up for a stale first period, and can go into their next game on Sunday 28th September against Sheffield Senators at the National Ice Centre (7-15pm Faceoff) with plenty of confidence.
Ollie Betteridge 1+1, Jack Baveystock 0+1, Ben Wood 1+0, Joe Wightman 0+2, Gareth O’Flaherty 2+0, Michael Rose 0+2,
Period Scores: 1st 1-0, 2nd 1-1, 3rd 1-2.
Shots On Goal: Flyers-Lions – 1st 10-7, 2nd 12-13, 3rd 10-18. Total 32-38.
Penalty Minutes: 1st 4-2, 2nd 10-6, 3rd 6-2. Total 20-10.
Lions MVP: Sam Gospel.
Pictured: Top Gareth O'Flaherty
Editorial by Tom O'Rourke