Weekend review: Seniors on a roll, 14s strike back, 18s edged out in Nottingham

DOUBLE UP: Tomas Mitrik found the net twice in the 8-2 NIHL North Two Cup win at Altrincham Aces. Picture: Andy Bourke/Podium Prints

ANDY BROWN was delighted to see his Bradford Bulldogs team execute their gameplan to perfection as they extended their winning streak to three games with a comprehensive 8-2 victory at Altrincham Aces in the NIHL North Two Cup.

The Bulldogs had been made to work hard for their 4-3 win by the same opponents on home ice the previous week, but were a far more dominant force second time around. 

Tomas Mitrik led the way with a pair of goals, while there were also four-point nights for Josh Reynolds and Connor Medley in a triumph which owed a lot to work done in practice during the week, said head coach Brown.

“During the week we’d worked on several areas where we’d struggled last weekend and made a few changes to the lines to ensure we could match Alti in key areas,” said Brown. 

“The boys executed the plan and I felt we controlled the tempo and pace of the game, not allowing Alti to gain any momentum.”

After a frantic opening few minutes, it was anybody’s guess as to which way the game would go, Bradford breaking the deadlock through Medley at 1.48 and Josh Stockton doubling the lead just 65 seconds later.

THAT’S FOR STARTERS: Connor Medley opened the scoring for the Bulldogs in their 8-2 win in Altrincham. Picture: Andy Bourke/Podium Prints.

But very soon the hosts were level, Andrew Hopkins striking on the power play 5.48 before Sam Dunford also found a way past Phil Pearson with only 15 more seconds having elapsed.

A power play strike from Reynolds with just 34 seconds of the period left proved crucial but, in an evenly-matched second period, it took a while before another goal arrived.

Thankfully, it came the way of the visitors, captain Dean Boothroyd doubling his team’s lead at 37.00 before Mitrik’s first of the night just 10 seconds later strengthened the Bulldogs’ grip on proceedings.

Defenceman Alex Mitchell made it 6-2 just 70 seconds into the third period and, while Matty Barlow and Cameron Kushnirenko saw their night end early after dropping the gloves in the 46th minute, there was a memorable moment for 16-year-old Matthew Cross when he registered his first senior goal on the power play at 51.12.

The afternoon was made complete when Mitrik grabbed his second just over two minutes later.

Under-14s gain even the score against Coventry

GET IN! Daragh Spawforth, Danny Harrison and Dan Johns celebrate a goal against Coventry. Picture: Andy Bourke/Podium Prints.

There was swift revenge from the Bulldogs Under-14s the previous day on home ice, running out 16-4 winners against Coventry Blaze, who had prevailed 7-4 when the two teams met two weeks previously at the SkyDome Arena. 

Much like in Coventry, the game was won in the first period, the hosts establishing a 5-0 lead. Daragh Spawforth and Danny Harrison struck inside the first minutes, Harrison adding a third at 1.56 before Will Durgan got in on the act with his first Under-14s goal to make it 4-0 at 4.20.

Harrison completed his hat-trick at 8.30, but it was Coventry who struck next, getting on the board through Lewis Swaffield at 17.01, a strike which kickstarted a flurry of five goals in less than three minutes.

Spawforth’s second for the hosts soon followed before two goals in just over a minute gave Coventry hope at 6-3, George Tarr firing past Jacob Midgeley in the Bulldogs net before Swaffield doubled his tally at 19.10.

But Bradford hit back quickly, Spawforth sealing his hat-trick just 32 seconds later before Harrison Booth and the Bulldogs’ captain with his fourth made it 9-3 at 23.21.

Swaffield registered his own hat-trick strike at 23.33, but Bradford continued their attacking intent, Spawforth’s fifth coming at 27.59 before Booth doubled his tally in the 30th minute.

Just 90 seconds of the third had elapsed before Harrison made it four for the night, Frankie O’Sullivan capping a fine performance with a shorthanded strike at 32.44 before Harrison struck again less than a minute later while still at a man disadvantage.

CLOSE CALL: Frankie O’Sullivan fires a shot at Coventry netminder Elliott Russan, the Bulldogs No 9 returning to the fray after an injury lay-off with a 1+6 game. Picture: Andy Bourke/Podium Prints

Both Spawforth and Harrison each then made it six for the night to complete the scoring.

O’Sullivan led the way in assists with six, Spawforth posting five helpers, while Harrison and defenceman Dylan Strong weighed in with three apiece.

Durgan (2) and Booth, Dan Johns and Kieran Smith also posted assists, while O’Sullivan picked up a deserved Spirit of the Game award.

Under-18s edged out in Nottingham

The Under-18s headed to Nottingham looking to repeat the triumph they enjoyed over their East Midlands rivals on home ice last month.

They gave as good as they got, too, the game only slipping away from them in the third period and having opened the scoring through a fourth-minute power play strike from captain Matthew Cross.

Nottingham were level within five minutes via Charlie Marsden before Joshua Kelly and Daniel Martin put them 3-1 ahead at the first break.

Lucas Vince made it a one-goal game again at 28.29 only for Nottingham to establish a three-goal lead through two more strikes from Kelly.

Cross’s second power play strike shortly before the end of the second kept up the pressure on the hosts, the temperature rising even further when Jacob Brownlie made it a one-goal game once more.

But only 34 more seconds had passed before Jacob Race got in on the act to double the lead again, only for Rhys Edwards to close the gap again, this time to 6-5 at 45.40.

But a quickfire double from Race, the second one on the powerplay at 48.40 seemed to knock the stuffing out of the Bulldogs, who had no more comeback left in them.