HAVING been soundly beaten on home ice in the first leg of their NIHL North Two Cup semi-final by Telford Tigers, an injury-hit Bradford Bulldogs faced an uphill battle to turn the tie around when the two sides met 24 hours later in Shropshire.
And so it proved, the Tigers emerging convincing winners for the second time in a row, their 6-1 triumph in Shropshire following on from their 8-2 road win in Bradford the day before.
Reflecting on the weekend, Bulldogs’ head coach Andy Brown said he was proud of the effort shown by a Bulldog’s line-up that was deprived of eight of its first-team squad.
‘Firstly hats off to the team who gave their all with a very short bench,” said Brown. “Also credit to Hannah Gibson for stepping up and coaching both games in my absence.
“Both games were always going to be tough as Telford have put together a strong squad this season and have the ability to bring players in from higher leagues to strengthen when needed.
“We were missing eight first team players due to injury and unavailability, so we were always the underdogs but our never-say-die attitude meant we battled hard in both games.
“Now that we’re out of the cup we will focus our attention on the league and ensure that even with the injury problems we’ve currently got, we stay competitive and try to secure a play off spot.”
The damage was done inside the first 30 minutes of the meeting at Little Horton Lane, Bradford finding themselves 5-0 down before they got on the board.
Oliver Hunt and Jordan Kolly both struck inside three minutes before Filip Supa fired home at 16.15 to ensure the visitors enjoyed a 3-0 lead at the first period break.
With Connor Medley in the box on a boarding call, Telford increased their lead on the resulting power play through Thomas Byrne at 22.29, Hunt making it 5-0 with his second of the game just over four minutes later.
The hosts eventually replied through Logan Roberts at 31.46 and gave themselves a flicker of hope just 11 seconds into the third when Josh Stockton made it 5-2 with his 15th of the season.
But within two minutes all thoughts of a comeback were gone, Telford scoring twice in 20 seconds when both Jolly and Byrne doubled their tallies for the evening, the game being wrapped up through Callum Griffin’s shorthanded strike at 55.14.
A positive start was required by the Bulldogs at Telford 24 hours later but, already six goals adrift and with a severely shortened bench due to unavailability – they only iced 11 skaters – the minor miracle was not forthcoming.
Supa opened the scoring in the ninth minute, although Sam Bolwell was not to be beaten again until early in the second when Griffin made it 2-0 at 21.14, Ben Washburn increasing the lead just 24 seconds later.
Hunt scored shorthanded at 31.42, while Deaken Fielder made it 5-0 at 35.39. Bradford deservedly got on the board through captain Dean Boothroyd within a minute, but 5-1 was how it stayed until 57.40 when Dan Mitchell rounded off a fine weekend for the Shropshire team, who will now face either Hull Jets or Sutton Sting in the final.
Tough night at the office for Under-18s
BULLDOGS’ Under-18s endured a tough afternoon in South Yorkshire on Sunday when they went down 13-1 to Sheffield.
The damage was done inside the first 10 minutes when a hat-trick from Tate Shudra – who has recently being playing for Leeds Knights in the NIHL National – put the hosts firmly in control, with Ashley Dawdon making it 4-0 before the first period break.
Shudra’s fourth arrived at 23.24, while Ethan Scoley got on the board just over a minute later to make it 6-0.
A fifth for Shudra came on the power play at 31.24 and although the Bulldogs finally opened their account through Lucas Vince at 32.02, that only served to stir the home side even further, as they plundered another five goals before the end of 40 minutes.
Scholey doubled his tally before Sam Parkin got in on the act on the power play at 33.47. Archie Grayson, Michael Danecko and Carl Hodgson also found the net, before Ben Roebuck’s power play marker completed the rout at 44.15.
Under-14s edged out in 14-goal thriller at Ice Sheffield
SHEFFIELD proved an unhappy hunting ground for the Bulldogs across the weekend as, 24 hours earlier, the Under-14s also came off second best against.
It had all started so well for Andy Brown’s youngsters, too, when Danny Harrison ripped one past Thomas Flint from distance with just 51 seconds on the clock.
But the Bulldogs found themselves behind within a couple of minutes when Joseph Matthewman and Matiss Magone put the hosts ahead, only for Daragh Spawforth to level with a rasping drive from the left circle at 4.13.
Sheffield went at the end of the first 4-2 ahead, however, thanks to Matthewman’s second and Theo Davies’s marker at 10.38.
Harrison Booth made it a one-goal game again with his power play effort just 34 seconds into the second, but Sheffield were allowed to pull clear again, forging 6-3 ahead through efforts from Alfie Longmate and Harry Roebuck.
Frankie O’Sullivan struck twice to bring Bradford to within one goal, but again they allowed Sheffield to double their lead when Matthewman completed his hat-trick at 29.06.
Jack Beaumont’s power play strike at 36.18 gave the hosts a deserved three-goal cushion and although O’Sullivan completed his own hat-trick with just under six minutes remaining, that was as close as the Bulldogs could get, going down 8-6.
Harry stars on Bulldogs Under-10s debut
In other action at the weekend, the Under-10s headed over to Altrincham for their latest jamboree, taking on hosts Manchester Storm Academy, as well as youngsters from Widnes and Telford.
Harry Clark picked up player of the day on his first-ever game for the club, while FInley Mardell followed in older brother Jacob’s footsteps by excelling in between the pipes for the first time.