Big Tasty Report
Dragons Vs Predators 06/07/2019
After lifting the Kingston Cobras Tournament Trophy for the 2nd consecutive year the Dragons were back in Northern Rec Cup action this past weekend taking on the Newcastle Predators in a lunchtime fixture on Saturday. After some bad blood from the previous league encounter as well as some issues over the course of the Hull tournament weekend both teams came into the fixture with a point to prove. The Dragons, sat in 2nd place in the Northern Conference were looking for a win to confirm their Quarter Finals berth as well as to continue to chase the first placed Whitley Islanders, whilst the Predators were looking for their first points of the competition having ran the Dragons close in Hull at the weekend.
At the puck drop it was the Predators who started the brightest. First to every puck they looked hungry whilst the Dragons seemed to be suffering from a post tournament hangover, slow and making uncharacteristic mistakes in their own end. The Preds had the best of the early encounters with former Whitley Warrior, Peter Tomek, looking dangerous and forcing Sam Elsom into action several times. With the Dragons struggling to find a foot hold in the game the pressure eventually took its toll as Sean Croft was forced to haul a Predator down in the neutral zone and take a tripping penalty to prevent a certain breakaway. The resulting Powerplay was ran well with the Preds buzzing around the Dragons net and made the breakthrough less than 20 seconds in when Jesse Cary took advantage of some great work down low from Ian Russel and Stu Davis to fire the Predators into a deserved lead. The Predators, boosted by the goal, continued to press with Curt Elgie and Ian Russell being denied by Elsom to prevent the Dragons falling further behind. The Dragons were handed a lifeline when Stuart Weaver was assessed an interference penalty straight from a faceoff which put the Dragons on the Powerplay for the first time. With the extra man, the Dragons started to assert more pressure on the Predators net and when Brad Armitage found James Udell unmarked with a pass around the top of the face off circles, the Durham sniper wasted no time in evening the score rifling a wicked slapshot past a handcuffed Brent Hope in the Predators net. The period continued to ebb and flow back and forth, but the Dragons found themselves going into the period break lucky to be on level terms.
With the harsh words of coach Brad Armitage ringing in their ears the Dragons started the second period in much better form going straight on the offence. John Shreeve danced round the Predators defence and somehow still managed to lift the puck past Hope despite Weaver taking a delayed penalty for hooking the Dragons scorer as he closed in on goal. Less than a minute later and the lead was double with Ian Greenwood opening his account for the afternoon firing past Hope from the slot. The Dragons were now starting to run through gears and the ice was tilted towards the Predators net with only some desperate defending and some excellent work from Brent Hope keeping the Dragons off the board. At the 26-minute mark the resistance gave out with Greenwood bagging his second after taking a beauty of a feed from the influential Shreeve. A minute later Dylan Stevens incurred the anger of Dragons forward Kieran Atkinson with a dangerous looking hit from behind. Luckily for the Dragons, Atkinson was unhurt on the play and Stevens received a 2+10 for boarding putting his team back on the Penalty King. Once again the Dragons Powerplay proved to be deadly with Hope denying Shreeve and Greenwood only to see the rebound fall, somewhat unluckily, to the stick of Dragons forward Michael Park who fired the puck home to give the Dragons a 5-1 lead at the halfway point of the game. As the physical play began to pick up Dragons Captain Chris Hall asserted himself into the game with a crushing hit on Ian Russell in front of the Predators bench. The resulting handbags saw Graeme Nelson spear Dragons Defencemen Sean Croft and both men were sent to box for 10 minutes to think about what they had done. The Predators powerplay never really got set up and struggled to gain any offensive zone time. Once the Penalty was killed there was no let up for the beleaguered Predators goalkeeper when, after denying James Udell with a desperation pad save, once again the rebound found its way on to a Dragons stick as Mark Foster grabbed his first of the afternoon from close range. The Dragons offence were now seemingly cutting through the Predators depleted defence at will and they exploded again with a burst of goals at the 35-minute mark. First up Ian Greenwood completed his hat trick after some sterling work from Kieran Atkinson around the net. Then it was James Udell grabbing his second firing blast past an out of position Hope 30 seconds later. Mark Foster, not to be outdone, then showed magic hands around the net to bury his second after line mate Jay Wilson had forced a turnover in the Predators zone. After conceding 9 goals and giving up 3 in the last minute the Predators decided it was the end of Hope’s night, pulling the American in favour of Max Hadfield who attempted to rally his team as he entered the game and was able to shut the door to end the period.
Sadly, for Hadfield the 3rd period started in much the same way as the 2nd had for his predecessor with Ian Greenwood taking his personal tally to 4 with Udell assisting. The Dragons however then found themselves in penalty trouble with Sean Croft taking a penalty for tripping. The penalty was killed only for Brad Armitage to become entangled with Elgie in the corner and was assessed a holding the stick penalty. With the penalty ticking down Ian Greenwood was then called for a cross check putting the Predators on a 5 on 3 Powerplay for 20 seconds. The Armitage penalty expired and, with Greenwood still in the box, Mark Foster took it upon himself to complete his own hat trick in style. After picking the puck up in the offensive zone the veteran sniper dangled his way round 4 Predators before deking Hadfield and roofing the puck in what was possibly the Goal of the night for the Dragons with 10 minutes to go. It was then left for James Udell to finish off the scoring with a long-range effort for his own Hat trick and to make the score 12-1. Despite the score lines a visibly demoralised Predators side continued to battle and were unlucky not to grab a consolation goal late in the period when Sam Elsom sprawled to his right to make a breath-taking stick save on the line.
With the final buzzer the Dragons had secured a Quarter final place as the result meant the Predators could not catch the Wearsiders in the standings guaranteeing them at least a 4th place group finish.
Man of the Match for the Dragons went to Sam Elsom for his sterling work between the pipes whilst the Grinder award went to Mark Foster
Dragons - Ian Greenwood – 4+1, James Udell – 3+2, John Shreeve – 1+3, Mark Foster – 3+0, Michael Park – 1+0, Sean Croft – 0+1, Jay Watson – 0+1, Kieran Atkinson – 0+1
Predators – Jess Cary – 1+0, Ian Russell – 0+1, Stu Davis – 0+1