BRADFORD BULLDOGS returned to winning ways in NIHL North Two but their 5-2 triumph over Coventry Blaze was tempered by news that top points scorer Joshua Stockton will miss the rest of the season with a fractured wrist.
Stockton has posted 29 points overall this season, including 17 goals, in 29 league and cup appearances but, with only four Bulldogs games left, will not now get a chance to add to that.
While pleased with his team’s performances overall – netminder Phil Pearson impressing when turning away 49 of the 51 shots on his goal – news of Stockton’s injury left head coach Andy Brown frustrated.
“I felt we controlled the first period well and deserved our two-goal lead going into the second,” said Brown. “Unfortunately we took our foot off the pedal and allowed Coventry to score two quick goals and get back into the game.
“Our powerplay unit got one back and then I felt we regained control of the game. Unfortunately, we took several ‘off the puck’ sticks, one of which will now leave us without Josh Stockton for the rest of the season as he ended up sustaining a fractured wrist.”
Stockton managed to contribute a couple of assists before his injury, but the opening strike came from Josh Richardson just over five minutes in.
Along with Matt Viney, Stockton was on hand to help set up captain Dean Boothroyd to make it 2-0 at 12.58 but, once the teams returned for the second period, the visitors came out firing and halved the deficit just 35 seconds in through Scott Venus.
Just under four minutes later, the Blaze were level through Jake Hayward, the teams remaining level despite the visitors enjoying the bulk of possession until the 38th minute when the Bulldogs made their power play count at the fourth attempt.
With Arthur Brookes in the box on an interference call, the Bulldogs got themselves in front again shortly before the penalty expired when Josh Reynolds struck at 37.01, assists going to Stockton and Chris Butler.
Alex Lutwyche put some further breathing space between the two teams at 43.52, with Reynolds doubling his tally for the evening with a short-handed strike at 59.18.
Bulldogs Under-18s up to third after shooting down Stars
Bulldogs Under-18s stretched their unbeaten run to four games and moved up to third in the standings following their comprehensive 10-2 win over Billingham Stars.
Captain Damarni James, Lucas Vince and Rhys Edwards led the way with two goals apiece, while there were also markers for Jack Wooding, Mackenzie Barker, Matthew Cross and Tom Mardell.
It was actually the visitors who broke the deadlock early on when Ben Greenhalgh struck with just 2.21 on the clock.
James levelled in the 10th minute but it was in the middle period where the Bulldogs took the game away from their opponents.
Edwards made it 2-1 at 24.56 before Wooding got on the board two minutes later. Lucas Dowdle got the Stars back in the game just after the halfway mark but further strikes from James and Barker put the hosts firmly in control.
Vince’s first came at 40.43, Cross making it 7-2 at 48.44 with three further goals coming in the last 10 minutes, Edwards grabbing his second at 52.05, Mardell striking at 54.39, while Vince secured his brace at 57.41.