BRADFORD BULLDOGS Under-12s moved top of the North division by posting a perfect return from their two-game weekend.
The Bulldogs were made to work all the way on home ice before edging out an impressive Manchester Storm team 5-2 – thanks in large part to hat-trick hero Billy Simpson – then returning to Little Horton Lane just over 24 hours later where they enjoyed an 8-0 win over Kingston Sharks, this time Kyle Bower bagging himself a treble.
On Saturday, the Bulldogs had to come from behind to take the points, trailing 2-1 towards the end of the second with Simpson’s 15th-minute opener being cancelled out by Heath Langlois just under two minutes later before Johannes Kaariainen put the visitors ahead at 22.11.
But Simpson chose the ideal moment to drag his team level, his second coming with 29.55 on the clock before the hosts got themselves in front again early in the third when Thomas Taylor struck at 35.09.
Simpson’s hat-trick strike came at 38.20 before Kieran Smith made the points safe just under three minutes later.
A little over 24 hours later, the 12s were in action again, but enjoyed a more comfortable afternoon, going 5-0 ahead by the end of the first period through strikes from Charlie Barker, Will Durgan, two from Bower and Smith.
Like Smith before him, Taylor added to his goal from the day before to make it 6-0 at 19.55 before Bower made it a day to remember when he sealed his hat-trick at 23.29.
Smith added his second of the day while the Bulldogs were short-handed, before the mercy rule kicked in, goaltender Jacob Mardell recording a shutout to add to his Spirit of the Game award from the previous day.
The win puts Bradford two points clear at the top of the standings, needing just one more win to book their spot at the end-of-season Nationals in May in Sheffield. Two of their remaining four games come against second-placed Leeds Knights Juniors.
Under-14s keep up pressure on North One rivals
BULLDOGS’ Under-14s maintained their own bid for a place at the Nationals when beating Telford 12-6 at home on Saturday.
After falling behind to a sixth-minute opener from Telford’s Tyler Stanton, the Bulldogs responded well, putting themselves 4-2 ahead by the end of the first through two apiece for Frank O’Sullivan and captain Daragh Spawforth, the impressive Stanton adding his own second strike at 12.28.
O’Sullivan sealed his first treble of the day at 18.31, Stanton matching him goal for goal by reducing the arrears to 5-3 just under a minute later.
But three goals in as many minutes effectively put the Bulldogs beyond reach, Spawforth clinching his hat-trick strike at 20.19, his fourth of the day arriving two minutes later before O’Sullivan made it four for himself 23.37.
O’Sullivan made it 9-4 with just nine seconds of the period remaining, Stanton having earlier got his fourth, the third period seeing both players register six goals for their respective teams before Danny Harrison completed the scoring for the Bulldogs at 40.49.
Battling Under-16s come off second-best at Nottingham
BULLDOGS’ Under-16s visited Nottingham on Sunday evening and gave a good, battling account of themselves before succumbing to a 7-2 defeat.
Captain James Mather put Nottingham ahead with just 60 seconds on the board, but it wasn’t long before the Bulldogs were level, Danny Harrison pouncing on a loose pass in the neutral zone before breaking free down the middle to fire past Rhys Hatton at 1.59.
Nottingham got themselves 4-1 ahead by the end of the first, though, through strikes from Ewan Woodward, Alex Rushby and Nicholas Martin while his team were shorthanded.
Watch Nottingham v Bulldogs Under-16s HERE
Luke Birchnall made it 5-1 at 21.16 but the Bulldogs gave themselves a lifeline when Tom Mardell intercepted an attempted pass on the edge of the Bulldogs zone and raced clear down the middle before firing into Hatton’s top left-hand corner with 21.45 on the clock.
But any hopes of a comeback from the visitors were dented when Tyler Dodd restored the home team’s four-goal lead on the power play at 24.09, the Bulldogs and replacement netminder Gabe Lingard keeping Nottingham at bay until the seventh and final goal arrived through Martin at 40.02.