AFTER the festive break, Bradford Bulldogs returned to action for 2022, the Under-18s back with a two-game weekend in North One, while our Under-10s hosted a four-team cross-ice tournament.
The Bulldogs are 18s are doing it tough at the minute, though, their losing streak being extended to eight games when they followed up a 9-3 defeat on the road at Billingham with a 6-2 reverse on home ice against second-placed Sheffield.
The clash at Billingham started off with a goal-filled first period which left the hosts 5-3 ahead by the time the first buzzer sounded.
Three goals in a minute put the Stars in control, with captain Tommy Spraggon opening the scoring at 5.29 before Jack Leckie and Callum Parks also got on the scoresheet.
Euan Fernandez then reduced the deficit briefly when he fired past Ryan Wardell at 7.31, only for the hosts to restore their three-goal lead with a 10th-minute strike from Ben Greenhalgh.
The Bulldogs edged the second half of the period, though, captain Matthew Cross getting on the board twice – first at 14.30 an then again at 17.49 – sandwiching a second goal from Greenhalgh to leave the encounter finely poised at the break.
But the game got further away from the visitors in the second, Greenhalgh completing his hat-trick, while Spraggon doubled his own tally.
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Finley Bradon and Lucas Dowdle – on the power play – completed the scoring in the third for a 9-3 win. Tom Mardell, Rhys Edwards and Jack Wooding bagged assists for the Bulldogs.
Just under 24 hours later, the Under-18s were at it again, back on home ice to host a Sheffield team already in buoyant mood after having beaten leaders Hull 5-2 the previous day to move within two points of their title rivals.
It was the visitors who secured a first period advantage through strikes from Archie Grayson and Joshua Rawsthorne inside the first six minutes, the lead increasing to 3-0 just 43 seconds into the second period when Ben Roebuck beat Gabe Lingard.
Sheffield were dominating in terms of chances but the Bulldogs gave themselves a lifeline with 58 seconds of the period remaining when captain Matthew Cross made it a three-goal weekend, assists going to Mardell and Edwards.
But the game disappeared from their reach when Sheffield scored twice in the space of eight seconds, Tate Shudra making it 4-1 at 45.53 before Sam Keeling quickly followed up.
Ethan Scholey made it 6-1 at 50.27 before Rhys Edwards grabbed a consolation goal at 59.02.
Under-10s play host for enjoyable cross-ice session at Bradford
On Saturday, the Under-10s also returned to action, playing host to Widnes, Manchester and Telford.
All the youngsters put in 100 per cent on another enjoyable afternoon of cross-ice action, Jenson Foster picking up the Player of the Day award, while there were memorable Bulldogs debuts for Franklin Penn and Stephen Abdy.