The Key and Eagle Blackburn Buccaneers welcomed the Hull Knights to Blackburn Arena on Sunday evening to kick off our 2023 Ice Hockey Summer Classic campaign.
The Buccs started the game brightly with some early pressure and that paid off halfway through the first period. Alex Frewin left the Buccs bench with speed and he was found with a breakout pass from Walsh. Frewin carried the puck from the neutral zone through the Knights defence and fired past Miller in the Knights goal.
On the 13 minute mark, Thomson received a pass from Burns and made no mistake to double the lead. The Buccs were visibly growing in confidence and just two minutes later, Walsh broke deep into the Knights zone and layed a backhand pass to McQuade-Gilligan who rifled a one-timer past the helpless Miller.
The visitors were struggling to clear the zone and more Blackburn pressure paid off. Bowen picked up a loose puck in the corner and made a great heads-up play to Tierney on the point. A neat sidestep of an oncoming Knights player created space and he fired a wrister into the top corner.
From the next face-off, a lapse in concentration in the Buccs defence allowed Coombs a breakaway and he coolly slotted past Chapman in the home goal. The end of a frantic first period saw the Buccs up 4-1.
The second period was scrappy throughout and whilst both teams had chances to get on the board, it ultimately finished scoreless and the Buccs maintained the 4-1 lead going into the 3rd.
The scrappy theme continued into the third period and it wasn’t until half way through that a nice link up between Beesley and Alex Frewin set-up McQuade-Gilligan for his second of the game and what should have been a match-winning cushion.
However, the visitors weren’t planning on heading back down the M62 without giving it a go. First it was Picken who broke into the zone and lasered a shot over the glove of Chapman. Kaszycski then capitalised on some sloppy play from the home side to reduce the deficit to two with just 1.08 left on the clock. With a two goal cushion, the home side were still big favourites to see the game out until Tidy found himself on a breakaway and he capped a good performance with a deserved goal. 28 seconds left and the lead was down to one. With the Knights full of confidence and the Buccaneers somewhat rocked by the onslaught, Miller was pulled but to no effect as time ran out for the comeback.
The Key & Eagle MVP for the Buccaneers went to Jon Bowen who didn’t stop skating all night. We asked him for his thoughts on the match:
Amazing to start the season off with a win! Buccs dominated the first period 4-1 with some fantastic plays but we took the foot off the gas in the final period giving the Knights hope. Solid performance from the lads to see out the win. Buzzing to get an assist and MVP on my home debut but could have gone to any of the lads. Great win but lots to improve on looking ahead to the next game.
Our next game is the return fixture against the Knights on 20th May. Hull will no doubt be looking to get revenge for last night’s defeat and the Buccaneers will need to be fully on their game if they want to take another two points.