Big Tasty Report
Dragons Vs Cobras 07/07/2019
The Dragons welcomed the Kingston Cobras to Hillheads on Sunday evening in the second game of a double header for the Dragons this past weekend. Having beaten Kingston 6-0 in the final of the Hull Tournament the previous weekend as well as 5-3 in the away fixture earlier in the competition, the Dragons were keen to make it a clean sweep over their guests. After Whitley had beaten Cleveland the previous night the Dragons knew that a win would see them guaranteed a least 2nd place in the competition and secure home ice for the quarter finals. Kingston, looking for their first points in the competition travelled with only 6 skaters however, having ran leaders Whitley close with similarly low numbers recently were not to be taken lightly.
The Dragons trademark slow first period start manifested itself once again as the Cobras controlled large portions of the play whilst the Dragons looked tired from the previous days game. They were given a boost though when Sergei Kvasys found some room in the slow and fired a low shot home past Steve Hudson in the Cobras net to give the Durham side the lead. Despite their low numbers the Cobras were not making it easy for the hosts playing a controlled puck moving game and leaving a man high which caused the Dragons defence a number of problems. The Cobras threatened several times before a defensive mix up saw the puck pop out to Cobras captain William Smith who gleefully ripped a slapshot past Sam Elsom to tie the score, giving the Durham netminder no chance. Durham continued to struggle against the Cobras tactics and couldn’t make the numbers advantage work at all in their favour as the Cobras controlled possession and were not giving the Dragons much in the way of chances in their zone. At the 13-minute mark the Cobras took a deserved lead when Ian Clark lead the charge from the neutral zone and let rip a seeing eye shot from just inside the blue line that whistled past Elsom. The Dragons misery was further confounded just 2 minutes later when a misplaced pass in the defensive zone found its way on to Chris Armitage’s stick who walked in alone on the Dragons net, deked and smartly finished from close range to put the Cobras 3-1 up. The Dragons were visibly shell shocked but were able to claw their way back into the game a few minutes later. Sean Croft, playing as a makeshift forward for the evening broke into the zone and fired past Hudson to hand the Dragons a lifeline. With the period winding down, a low shot from James Udell was redirected in front by John Shreeve past a stranded Hudson to bring Durham back to level terms at the end of the period.
Once again, Harsh words were needed on the Dragons bench after another poor start, but the ship was righted early in the 2nd period. With the Dragons on the Powerplay James Udell was able to fire the Dragons in front after Hudson had denied Shreeves from point blank range. 2 minutes later Kieran Atkinson took a feed from line mate Kvasys and was able to pick Hudson’s top corner with a laser like effort. Not long after the restart the Dragons were at it again, this time John Shreeve grabbing his second with a picture-perfect shot that found a tiny gap over the shoulder of Hudson to make it 6-3. A tiring Cobras team were rocked back ion to their heels, but Hudson was in fine form pulling off several point-blank saves to keep the score line down. Sadly for the Cobras goalie luck would not be on his side on the 29-minute mark when, after robbing Mark Foster at close range the puck cruelly fell to Jeff Franklin to fire home past the downed net minder to make it 7-3. Sean Croft then danced his way through the Cobras defence to grab his 2nd and the Dragons 8th of the evening. The Cobras 6 skaters were visibly tired after logging a lot of tough minutes, but they still had chances to make a game of it only to be denied by Sam Elsom in the Dragons net.
The third period saw a visibly tired Cobras side battling on with a backs to the wall mentality to try and stymy the Dragons attacks. Hudson continued his excellent performance in the Cobras net denying the Dragons shooters time and time again despite facing and barrage of shots at times. With 5 minutes to go Kieran Atkinson finally managed to break the resistance with an almost carbon copy of his first effort, finding the top corner again after great work from Armitage and Kvasys, to give the Dragons their 9th and final goal.
Man of the Match for the Dragons went to James Udell with Steve Hudson picking up the award for the Cobras after a fantastic performance in net. Despite the Cobras netminder rightfully taking the plaudits for his heroics, credit must also go to all 6 skaters for Kingston who battled the entire night against the odds and gave a great account of themselves.
Sean Croft picked up the Grinder award for the Dragons for his 2-goal performance having been moved from his usual defensive role to an emergency forward.
The win sees the Dragons now guaranteed at least 2nd place in the group as neither Kingston, Newcastle nor Cleveland can now catch their points total, which also hands the Dragons home ice advantage for their quarter final.
Dragons – John Shreeve – 2+2, James Udell – 1+2, Sergejus Kvasys - 1+2, Sean Croft – 2+0, Kieran Atkinson – 2+0, Jeff Franklin – 1+0, Brad Armitage – 0+1, David Hirst – 0+1, Mark Foster – 0+1, Michael Park – 0+1
Cobras – Chris Armitage – 1+1, Ian Clark – 1+0, William Smith – 1+0