Nottingham Vipers opened their 2013/14 league campaign entertaining Telford Wrekin Raiders at the National Ice Centre. This fixture marked the Vipers debuts for Canadian Robin Mullen and new starting netminder Holly Steeples. Telford’s roster remained largely unchanged from last season.
After the puck drop, both teams started speculatively, perhaps showing signs of early season rustiness. Despite the slow start, both netminders were tested with Nottingham’s Holly Steeples coming up big for her team. At the 8:15 mark, Telford were handed a golden opportunity when Vipers number 8 Lucy Kendall landed a body check on an unsuspecting Telford player. However, it was Nottingham who capitalised when Robin Mullen stole the puck and netted on her debut to the give the Vipers a shorthanded 1-0 lead at 9.19. This was to prove the end of the action for the first period.
The second period saw the Vipers up the intensity, and it paid off instantly with Rebecca Cooke burying the puck after only 17 seconds. Telford refused to give up, and continued to push for their opening goal with only smart work from the Vipers defence, a goal post and some more stirling work from netminder Steeples denying them. It was to be Vipers who would land the killer blow at the end of the period, with two goals in two minutes. Robin Mullen popped up with her second of the night on the delayed penalty, with the assist going to alternate captain Michelle Peat at 27:57. Shortly afterwards, Telford could consider themselves the victims of some bad luck when a Kendra Hourd shot deflected off a Raiders player into their goal at 29:48.
The third period saw Nottingham content to sit on their lead, absorbing the Telford pressure as they pushed for a breakthrough, including an impressive five on three penalty kill when Lucy Ebinger and Micky Johnson took penalties for roughing and slashing respectively. Telford finally achieved this at 41:18, with Heather Metcalf firing past Nottingham’s Steeples, who was desperately unlucky not to get a shutout on her debut, saving 21 of 22 shots. Nottingham restored their four goal lead minutes later, with Laura Smith netting for her first of the season at 44:22, with assists going to Rebecca Cooke and Robin Mullen for her third point of the game. This was to conclude the action for this match, with Nottingham firmly in the knowledge that tougher tests are to come, starting with Kingston Diamonds on Sunday 6th October. Spirit of the game went to Lucy Ebinger for her hard work and consistency on the blue line.