The first game of the Buccs season saw them travel down to M56 to North Wales to take on old friendly rivals, the Flintshire Phantoms. Traditionally, games between the two sides are close and hard-fought affairs but only the latter would apply this time around.
Tomlin started the game in goal, looking to build on a stand-out season last year and the rest of the line-up was littered with familiar faces with the exception of Karl Milton who made his debut for the club.
Things started well for the Buccs as they enjoyed some early pressure in the Flintshire zone and it paid off. Walsh played the puck round the boards to Dixon who found Jenkins in space out wide. A tight-angle shot caught out the Flintshire netminder and put the visitors 1-0 up. The Buccs pressure didn’t end there and the forwards were forcing save after save from Mark Smith in the Flintshire goal.
In the latter stages of the first period, the Phantoms turned the game on its head and grabbed two quick goals, including a fine solo effort from George Perrett, to ensure they took a lead into the first period break.
The opening plays of the second period saw the Buccs again throwing rubber on the opposing goal but it was the home team who would soon take control. Moving the puck well around the zone, the Phantoms were creating time and space for themselves and the Buccs just didn’t have an answer defensively. Despite Tomlin’s best efforts in goal, the pressure paid dividends with Flintshire racking up 5 goals in the period. After 40 minutes it was 7 goals to 1.
Despite the game being pretty much over as a contest before the puck dropped in the third, the Buccs were not deterred and continued to apply pressure to the Phantoms with all three forward lines having chances around the goal. The defensive pairings were gritty and battled hard for every puck but ultimately Flintshire’s quality shone through and they went on to bag another 3 goals to reach double figures. The game ending Flintshire 10-1 Buccaneers.
MVP for the home side went to George Perrett who was all over the ice for the Phantoms. The Buccs MVP was Adam Bolton who battled hard all game and was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet.
We asked the sole goalscorer for the Buccs, Mark Jenkins for his thoughts on the game:
The first period was good and we were unlucky not to have a couple more on the board. I think they may have expected an easier game and it wasn’t that way to start with. But when they came out for the second period they stepped it up a gear or two and overall the quality and experience of their guys showed. We showed a lot of fight to try and match them but some questionable penalties and the ability of their players meant it was always going to be an uphill struggle.
The Buccaneers return to action on Saturday 11th March against Sheffield Ice Tigers in the first game of the 2017 puckstop.com Ice Hockey Summer Classic.