On Sunday 6th March, the Blackburn Buccaneers made the short trip down to Deeside to renew a rivalry with the Flintshire Phantoms. Historically, games between the two clubs have always been close and this was to be no exception.
The game started at a fast pace with both teams having good scoring chances within the first few minutes. The deadlock was broken just after 6 minutes as Buccaneers player/coach Adam Dadswell burst through the zone and put a shot high into the net after a nice display of stickhandling.
Despite the Buccs enjoying sustained pressure on the Phantoms goal, the Welsh side showed some great determination (alongside a bit of luck) to pull level at 14.34. Despite clearly being offside in the lead-up as well as the scorer kicking the puck in, the referee awarded a goal and it was Martin who got the credit with Perrett picking up an assist. The period ended with the score level at 1-1 with Flintshire being the happier of the two teams after 20.
The second period started brightly for the visitors with the speedy first line of Matt Duncan, Carl Price and Mark Jenkins beginning to get into their stride. Just 1.12 into the period, it was Duncan who provided the go-ahead goal with a fine shot from the top of the circle. Despite fierce protests from Flintshire that the shot had in fact hit the post, the goal was given and Carl Price picked up the assist. Unhappy with the decision, Flintshire were fired up and replied with a goal of their own, Chris Keating breaking through on Rob Tomlin who made a sprawling double-save that left the whole rink in shock but rather unfortunately the puck fell back to Keating who made no mistake third time round. Despite the score being level, it was the Buccs who were still enjoying most of the chances in the zone and the hard work paid off when Mark Jenkins made it 3-2 around the half-way mark.
The final legitimate goal of the period came from the Buccaneer’s Craig Pennington who made it 4-2 with Michael Walsh picking up the extras. There was to be further controversy before the end of the period though as Gareth Fogarty got a breakaway and despite a fine move to send the keeper the wrong way, unluckily put the puck against the post. To everyone’s surprise, the referee blew the whistle and pointed for a goal. The Phantoms players were livid and after a very brief discussion with teammates, Buccaneers captain Michael Walsh left the bench to confirm to the referee that the puck didn’t go in. That meant the score stayed at 4-2 into the final period.
The Buccaneers dressing room was a positive one in the period break with the message being very simple – more of the same. That didn’t quite go to plan though as after 49 seconds of the final period, Flintshire pulled to within 1 after Clark fired past Tomlin. Less than 2 minutes later, the game was all square as Kenway took a pass from Keating and put the puck in the back of the net for the equaliser. The Buccaneers were visibly knocked for a couple of minutes as the momentum was with the Phantoms for the first time in the game. The Buccs weathered the storm though and on 49.38 Matt Duncan picked up his second of the game on the powerplay. A low shot from the point by Walsh was controlled and fired at the net by Dadswell and the rebound fell kindly for Duncan who slid the puck into the gaping goal.
The lead was to last less than one minute though as Phantoms came back up the ice with Clark getting his second and his teams fifth to put us level at 5-5.
It was a typically close game between these two clubs and both teams were giving it their all in the final 10 minutes. With 7 minutes left, Dadswell picked up a pass in the neutral zone and after crossing the blue line, fired a speculative shot on the net. The Flintshire netminder made the initial save but lost track of the puck as it bounced behind him over the line.
The game was then wrapped up on 58.51 as Matt Duncan capped a fine performance with his hat-trick goal – Carl Price picking up another assist.
As the buzzer went, the Buccaneers flooded straight to netminder Rob Tomlin who put on a fine display between the pipes and truly backstopped the win for the team. After the game, we asked hat-trick hero Matt Duncan for his thoughts:
“There were some questionable calls from the ref but we stayed focussed on pulling the goals back. Apart from the slight lapse at the beginning of the third, everyone battled hard throughout. A lot of focus gets put on the forwards but the scoreline could have been very different without the defence snuffing out a few one on one opportunities. We still have some work to do on line changes and staying calm when under pressure in the offensive zone but it was a solid win and a great start to the season”.
Carl Price picked up the MVP for the visitors after a battling performance and putting 3 assists on the board.
- Duncan 3+0
- Dadswell 2+1
- Jenkins 1+0
- Pennington 1+0
- Price 0+3
- Walsh 0+2
- Jenkins 2 mins
- Beesley 2 mins
- Towse 2 mins
The Buccaneers are next in action on Saturday 2nd April as we travel to Hull for our opening game of the Ice Hockey Summer Classic 2016 against newly-formed Kingston City Knights. The Knights won their first game in the competition 17-1 on Saturday 5th March against Sheffield Ice Tigers so it’s likely to be a very tough game. Buccs Captain Michael Walsh offered his thoughts on the next game: “Tonight’s win against Flintshire is just what we needed to get the season going. It gives us confidence going up to play the Knights but Hull have traditionally always had very strong rec teams so we’re expecting a real battle. We’ve got the players on the ice capable of bringing home a win but it’s going to need to be a solid team performance.”
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