The Buccaneers returned to home action on Saturday evening as the Halton Huskies made the trip to Blackburn for the first ever meeting between the two sides.
The Buccaneers downfall in recent games has been starting slowly but they would face no such problems here with the opening goal coming after just 1.21. Michael McLoughlin carried the puck deep into the offensive zone and played an inch-perfect pass from behind the net to Simon Pickering who was waiting in the slot to fire home. The Buccs second came just 4 minutes later and it was McLoughlin again who played a lovely pass to Mark Jenkins who made no mistake putting the puck past Clark in the Huskies goal.
The early goals didn’t deter the Huskies and their first spell of pressure in the Buccs zone got them on the board. A defensive scramble gifted Jeff Chapman-Watson a chance and he made no mistake. The Buccaneers bounced straight back though and just 20 seconds later, Pickering came out of a 50/50 battle for the puck on the boards and played a perfect pass to Michael Walsh in the slot who found the top corner with a one-timer. Walsh followed this up on the 15 minute mark with a solo effort to make it 4-1 Buccaneers. The first period scoring was completed by Anthony Hughes as he pulled the Huskies back to within 2 goals and left them with more than a fighting chance.
The second period started quickly with both teams having chances but it was the Buccaneers who took theirs and put the game beyond reasonable doubt with 3 goals in 4 minutes. Pickering followed up on his assist for Walsh with a similar pass that found Scott Anthony-Jones cruising into the slot and he fired home. A minute later, Karl Milton showed great hunger chasing the puck down in the Huskies zone and cut in from the boards to slot home. The 3-goal flurry was completed by Pickering with his second of the game, with McLoughlin picking up his third assist of the night.
Despite being 7-2 down, the Huskies continued to throw everything at the Buccs and they got their reward with two goals in a minute, Chapman-Watson grabbing his second and Huskies MVP Michael Parkin getting a well-deserved goal. The second period scoring was brought to a close by Mark Jenkins who went 5-hole on a quick breakaway.
The third period was scrappy and the fact there was no further scoring was largely down to the netminders, particularly Glen Rattray in the Buccaneers goal who made a string of fine saves to maintain the home side’s advantage.
Thoughts that were echoed by Simon Pickering who had a very profitable night in the offensive zone:
“I think it was one of our strongest performances for a while. We started strong from the word go and we moved the puck around really well. That said, it could have been a different score-line if it wasn’t for a solid performance between the pipes from Glen. Overall though, we seemed to gel as a team and the hard work in training is starting to pay off.”
After coming in for plenty of praise, we also asked Glen for his own thoughts:
“From the crease it was a sight to behold. Seeing two quick goals scored on the other side of the ice was a rather good start to what turned out to be an exciting game. That early lead set the tone for the same and the end result did not reflect how well we played on the night – we could have been a few more goals to the better had some of the 3rd period work resulted in pucks in the net.
Overall, I enjoyed seeing the tempo lift as the game progressed and players started to play more freely and with renewed confidence. That was only possible due to the effort put in at practice over the last few weeks. Repetition of drills started to pay off and some of the breakout plays and passages of play were noticeably well structured and efficient. Our defence work – organised and at times high class. Some unlucky scrambles in our zone resulted in a couple of soft goals but I’m looking forward to matching our newfound skills and abilities against some of the organised teams we have played in the past. With the effort shown in this game, it will be a totally different match-up next time around.”
MVP for the Buccaneers went to Mark Jenkins who not only bagged two goals but gave 110% all night in both zones. For the Huskies, it went to Michael Parkin who was a threat to the Buccs all game.
Anthony-Jones – 6mins
Trust – 2mins
The Buccaneers return to action on 12th May at Ice Sheffield as we take on the Sheffield Mavericks.