Sunday 3rd March saw the Buccaneers return to Ice Hockey Summer Classic action against rink-mates Wyre Seagulls. The Seagulls won both the league and play-offs last year and the Buccs knew they’d have to work extremely hard to come away with anything. The game saw a Buccs debut for Jonny Nuttall and a return to competitive action for Adam McArdle in his first game for 3 years.
The game started at a frantic pace and it could be argued that the Buccs started the better of the two teams. A very aggressive forecheck created turnovers which forced Gallery into a couple of early saves. However it was Wyre who broke the deadlock after 5 minutes, Dan Coxon firing home from a feed from Christian Wareing. The Buccaneers continued on though and the hard work paid off when Simon Pickering found Rob McNair in the slot and he made no mistake and leveled the scores at 1. That would be it for the period and the Buccs went in happier of the two teams.
The second period got underway and continued where the first left off with both teams battling for every puck. Despite some resolute defending from the Buccaneers, Wyre grabbed two goals in the space of 5 minutes, first Keiron Hardman from Adam Fleet and then Hardman returned the favour for Fleet to put the Seagulls 3-1 up. Despite the Buccs continuing to get chances, Gallery was holding firm in the Seagulls net and period ended at 3-1.
After two periods of executing a solid gameplan against the reigning champions, the Buccs started to tire in the third and the Seagulls quality shone through. Goals from Wes Evans, Matt Duncan and two more from Hardman to complete his hat-trick wrapped up a 7-1 win for the ‘home’ side.
Despite what appeared to be a heavy loss on paper, both players and spectators acknowledged that the Buccaneers had put in a solid effort and run Wyre closer than the scoreline suggested.
Buccs Captain Michael Walsh gave his thoughts on the game:
I’m very proud of how we played tonight. Wyre are a top team with huge amounts of experience and strength in depth that would rival any rec team. I think we more than competed tonight and all credit to the team but especially the coach. Higson knows how he wants us to play and we’re seeing the benefits from working hard in training.
We also asked Seagull’s Mark Jenkins for his take on the game:
We knew the Buccs would be really up for it and it showed in the game. For the first two periods, it was really cagey – Buccs defended really well and didn’t allow is to get our rhythm going while still being a threat on the counter attack. I think the long break between the second and third periods helped Wyre more than Buccs. It allowed us to get in the room and say a few things and I think the goal coming two minutes into the third to make it 4-1 killed the game off.
MVP for the Seagulls went to Christian Wareing and for the Buccaneers, it was Adam McArdle.
The Buccaneers return to Summer Class action on Sunday 17th March as we head to Deeside to take on the Flintshire Phantoms. After 3 losses to Flintshire already this year, we’ll be looking to build on the Wyre game and hopefully get some points on the board.