Big Tasty Report
Dumfries Tournament 2019
The Dragons headed back to Dumfries this past weekend looking to defend their trophy in the annual Dave Webster memorial tournament. Despite having Player Coach Brad Armitage unavailable and losing winger Sergejus Kvasys to injury at the 11th hour the Dragons still travelled with a strong side, taking 3 solid lines north of the border.
The opening game of the tournament saw the Dragons taking on the host Dumfries Demons who always prove to be a tough challenge. The Dragons struggled to get to grips with the non checking format of the tournament in the early stages and the Demons looked well organised and structured on their home rink pushing the Dragons back into the zone. After only a few minutes of play the Dragons found themselves behind after a point shot was tipped out of mid air straight on to the stick of unmarked Dumfries player on the opposite side of the next. With Craig Davies committed to the first short, the Demon’s player had all the time in the world to slide the puck into the unguarded net and put the hosts in front. The Dragons then found themselves in penalty trouble taking consecutive minor infractions and handing the Demons the man advantage. Despite the Demons pinning the Dragons in their own zone for long stretches the Dragons held from and were able to kill off the penalties. With the penalties behind them the Dragons started to feel their way back into the game and were on level terms at the half way mark after a James Udell slapshot found the twine for the Dragons. A few minutes later and it was Udell who edged the Dragons in front with a smart finish from the slot after some great work from John Shreeve. The game then went back and forth with both sides having chances but both goaltenders in no mood to concede any more. Despite some late penalties the Dragons held on to get the first points of the day on the board.
The second game saw the Dragons face a tough Grimsby Lightning side. Aware of the potential impact on the group standings the Dragons came roaring out of the blocks early piling the pressure on. Mike Sleeth in the Grimsby net was in spectacular form, making a string of saves, the pick of the bunch being where he robbed Kieran Atkinson with a glove save on a seemingly open net. The Dragons got their break through when Perrtu Noppari was able to perfectly screen Sleeth to allow a Mark Foster shot from just inside the point to find the bottom corner. The Dragons were at it again moment later with Ian Greenwood finding the back of the net from close range to open his account for the weekend. Grimsby were in no mood to lie down and they turned a tough situation on its head when they were able to break away and grab a goal back firing past Elsom in the Durham. The set back rocked Durham back on their heels a little and let Grimsby back into the game for a few minutes with Sleeth continuing to make save after save at the other end. Kieran Atkinson then popped up to give Durham their 2 goal cushion and finally getting his reward after being denied by some spectacular saves previously. Mark Foster then fired the Dragons fourth and his own second of the game, roofing the puck from close range, to secure a huge win for the Dragons.
The final game of the day saw the Dragons take on familiar opposition in the Kingston Cobras. With both sides looking tired the pace of the game was significantly slower than the previous games. The Dragons dominated for long stretches of play but found the short benched Cobras to be a tough nut to crack with Andy Daintith organising his troops at the back and Steve Hudson in fine form in between the pipes. The dead lock was broken by the Cobras when a poor Durham turnover in the zone allowed a Cobra to be alone in front of the Durham net and make no mistake burying a one timer past Davies in the Durham net. The Dragons never really got into their stride throughout the game and now were facing an uphill task to get back into the contest. After what seemed like an age the Dragons finally got back on level terms with Ian Greenwood deflecting a puck from close range. The Cobras protested the goal but the call on the ice stood and it was 1-1. A few moment later it was Greenwood again making the difference, bursting through the heart of the Cobras defence into the zone before picking Hudsons corner to give the Dragons a tenuous lead. Penalties then almost became the Dragons undoing as they faced a late 5 on 3 kill. Some desperate shot blocking and strong defensive play eventually saw the Dragons through safely to collect a third win of the day.
Day 2 started with a tough encounter against the Blackbears, a team who had been undefeated the previous day. With a few aches and pains starting to kick in as well as a few sore heads from the previous night the Dragons got off to their trademark slow start and found themselves down early in the game with the Blackbears shooters leaving little chance for Sam Elsom in the Dragons net to make the save. Penalties again started to mount up for the Dragons and this time the Blackbears made the man advantage count giving them a two goal lead. With the Dragons struggling to find any rhythm and sustain any pressure on the Blackbears net things went from bad to worse for the Dragons when a rare Powerplay chance turned into a short handed goal with a Blackbear making an interception and racing in alone on net to dispatch the 3rd and final goal of the contest.
With qualification already assured thanks to previous results going our way the Dragons went into their final group game against an already qualified Warriors team knowing that they needed a win to top the group. As expected for a game involving 2 times battling for top spot in their respective groups the game started in frantic fashion but the Dragons found themselves the victim of some questionable penalty decisions which handed the Warriors powerplay after powerplay. Sean Croft then hauled down a Warrior who was breaking in on net to concede a penalty shot. Craig Davies in net for the Dragons was more than up to the challenge however, stopping the shot attempt to keep the scores level. James Udell then fired a powerful blast from the boards which gave the Warriors net minder no chance and handed the Dragons the advantage. The lead did not last long however as, once again on the powerplay, a Warriors shot from the point went through a crowd battling in front on the Dragons net and somehow found its way passed Davies. Tempers began to flare on both sides with penalties coming thick and fast and things almost boiled over when Sean Croft fired a powerful slapshot into a grounded Warriors player in front of their net. The Warrior took exception and handbags were exchanged before the penalties were decided. The Dragons clung on to take a point but it was not enough to secure top spot in the group after an impressive Edinburgh Lions side had recorded 4 wins out of 5 compared to the Dragons 3 wins and 1 draw.
That left the Dragons with a semi final rematch against the Blackbears who had previously dispatched the Dragons with ease earlier in the day. The now sobered up Dragons were determined to give a better account for themselves but were dealt an early blow when Michael Park went down with a groin injury and was unable to continue. The Blackbears got off the mark first after a defensive mix up left a Blackbear with all the time in the world to pick his spot and fire past Elsom into the roof of the net. Penalties then bit the Dragons again with the Blackbears playing a picture perfect 2 on 1 break just seconds into their powerplay to give themselves a 2-0 lead. The Dragons pushed hard in the following shifts but when the Bears added a 3rd goal with 15 minutes to go it looked like the writing was on the wall. After some line shuffling on the Dragons bench the boys were not giving up and started to apply pressure of their own. Perttu Noppari was able to strip the puck from a Blackbear player in his own zone and find John Shreeve streaking up the middle of the ice. Shreeve made no mistake burying his chance to give the Dragons a glimmer of hope. The Dragons were on the end of some odd officiating with several penalties again being called on the boys in blue whilst James Udell was seemingly choke slammed to the ice as he broke in on goal but no penalties were called. Moment later Shreeve was hauled down in the Blackbears zone but again the referees arm stayed at their side. Despite the Dragons pushing hard the Blackbears were well organised and were able to stand firm and book their place in the final where they would go on to lift the trophy, sending the Durham boys home in the process.
Grinders of the weekend for the Dragons went to John Shreeve for the Saturday and David Hirst for the Sunday
Ian Greenwood x 3
James Udell x 3
Mark Foster x 2
Kieran Atkinson x 1
John Shreeve x 1
Craig Davies 3 Games (2-0-1) – 3 Goals Against – 1.00 GAA
Sam Elsom 3 Games (1-2-0) – 7 goals Against – 2.33 GAA