BRADFORD BULLDOGS made it two wins from two and boosted their hopes of North Cup qualification when they edged out Altrincham Aces 4-3 at Little Horton Lane.
It was a game which the home side dominated in terms of shots on goal, but they could never really afford to relax at any point as the visitors doggedly remained in touch throughout.
After a quiet opening spell, there were celebrations at either end within a minute or so of each other, the Bulldogs opening the scoring through Josh Stockton at 11.09, only for that strike to be cancelled out by an Andrew Hopkins effort at 12.29.
Coach Andy Brown’s team were to go in ahead at the first break, however, thanks to a rasper from Connor Medley at 17.37 which left netminder Adam Summerfield with no chance.
Both goalies stood tall in the second as chances came and went at both ends of the ice, the only breach coming towards the end when Stockton doubled his tally for the day when he made it 3-1 with 52 seconds left in the period.
But Altrincham refused to go away and made it a one-goal game again when Hopkins grabbed his second just 93 seconds into the third.
The vast majority of chances still came at the other end, though, where Summerfield was in solid form, the only time he was beaten coming when Bulldogs’ skipper Dean Boothroyd made it 4-2 at 52.19.
That should have been enough to calm the home side’s nerves but, once again the Aces had other ideas, Sam Dunford finding a way past Philip Pearson at 54.38 to make it 4-3.
But that was as close as they could get, meaning they will have to wait until this Sunday when the two teams meet again in Altrincham (face-off 5.30pm).
“We had to dig deep against Altrincham to get the result,” said Brown afterwards. “We knew they’d play a tough game and were needing to bounce back after some recent heavy defeats to Hull.
“Phil Pearson was great for us in net and made some crucial saves at key times. We should have turned the screw in the third but credit to Alti who pushed us to the end and were probably unlucky not to get at least a point.”
Elsewhere, the Under-18s suffered a second successive defeat when they went down 11-4 at home to Kingston Sharks, the result sending the Bulldogs’ East Yorkshire rivals to the top of the North One standings.
The damage was done in the first half of the game, as Kingston established a 5-0 stranglehold, one they started when ending a goalless opening spell through Adam Jasecko’s strike at 10.14, the lead being doubled 41 seconds later by Owen Bruton.
Jasecko ensured Kingston went in 3-0 ahead at the end of the first with his second in the 17th minute, before Declan Jones struck twice within a minute or so just before the halfway mark to leave the hosts with a mountain to climb.
The Bulldogs got on the board through Tom Mardell at 31.32 but were five adrift again soon after when Jasecko completed his first hat-trick of the day just over a minute later.
Mardell again reduced the arrears at 34.17 only for Alex Kent to strike at 38.32 to see the visitors go into the second intermission 7-2 to the good.
Captain Damarni James fired home his 12th of the season at 45.05, but thereafter, the hosts ran into penalty trouble, the next three Kingston goals all coming on the power play, Jasecko taking his tally to five, while Jones completed his hat-trick in between.
Lucas VInce ensured the Bulldogs went down fighting with a shorthanded strike at 54.35 before Jasecko completed a memorable personal performance with his sixth of the game at 55.00.
The Bulldogs’ Under-10s continued their development when they headed down to Telford to take on the hosts, Manchester Storm Academy and Widnes.
There were a string of impressive performances from the young Bulldogs throughout, with Timur Sprogis being awarded the Spirit of the Game award.
“The Under-10s had a great time in Telford and performed amazingly well” added club head coach Brown. “They are really developing as a squad which is great to see.”