Hull Pirates went down to their second away defeat in the space of four days. Swindon Wildcats put a massive dent in the Pirates hopes of reaching the finals in Coventry by taking this Group B play off game 6-3.
The Pirates got off to a dream start when Sam Towner put them ahead with only 14 seconds on the clock, to stun the Wildcats who to their credit reacted quickly to the goal by asserting pressure on Vlastomil Lakosil’s net with a high tempo game which was ultimately rewarded in some style in a 30 second period midway through the 1st period, when from being 1-0 down the Wiltshire side stunned the Pirates with their 1st goal on 9:49 through Floyd Taylor and on 10:08 Maxim Birbraer made it 2-1 to the hosts.
Both sides then enjoyed periods of attack without adding to the scoreline until 17:05 when Tomasz Malasinski somehow smuggled a half shot goalbound thast crept in past Lakosil to end the scoring for the period. 3-1.
The second period started with both sides intent on all out attack but it was Lakosil who was the busier keeper, pulling off some decent stops. On the half hour mark Luke Boothroyd was penalised for cross checking and the Wildcats took full advantage of the powerplay when Birbraer netted his second and Wildcats fourth on 31:07. A costly penalty for Jason Hewitt’s men as this was the only goal of the middle period, the Wildcats 3 goals to the good after 40 minutes. 4-1.
The Pirates started the last stanza brightly and Tommi Laine rattled the bar of Stevie Lyle’s net but the Finn wasn’t to be denied on 44:39 when he buried a chance to make it 4-2 with 15 minutes remaining. The comeback was short lived though as Wildcats MOM, Maxim Birbraer netted his hat trick goal on 46:29 to restore the 3 goal home advantage, 5-2.
Lee Bonner on 54:45 gave the Pirates another glimmer of a comeback with a neat goal to cut the deficit again to two but again this was shortlived as three minutes later on 57:46 Jordan Kelsall netted for the Wildcats to complete the nights scoring for a final score of 6-3 and leaving the Pirates play off progression hanging by a thread.
Having lost 2 from 2 the Pirates must beat Milton Keynes Lightning on home ice tomorrow to have any realistic chance of qualifying for finals weekend. The Lightning have won both of their play off games so far and sit top of Group B. A win tomorrow will put the Pirates back in the mix, a defeat could spell an end for playoff glory.
Face off at the Hull arena tomorrow night is 5:30pm.
Milton Keynes defeated Basingstoke in the other Group B game tonight 4-3.
Group A results:
Guildford Flames 3-2 Sheffield Steeldogs
Telford Tigers 7-0 Peterborough Phantoms
Picture credit: Lois Tomlinson.