Vipers come out of Hull with a point

Vipers first game of the season saw them travel the short distance to Hull to face-off against Kingston Diamonds. A lot of new faces meant there was bound to be a lack of cohesion, but Nottingham started the game brightly, regularly testing Kingston netminder Charlotte Cook who was in fine form. Vipers were rewarded at 9:07 when a speculative shot from Robin Mullen made its way through (credited to Madison Wright but certainly scored by Robin!). Vipers continued to apply the pressure but couldn’t find that all important second goal, until a great outlet pass from Sasha Cater setup Robin Mullen on a breakaway which she reliably dispatched at 25:00.

Kingston pulled back a well worked goal courtesy of Sophie Campbell at 32:19 that Netminder Summer Cramer could do nothing about with the double screen in front, and the second period closed out at 2-1 in favour of Nottingham.

Vipers looked to kill the game off in the third, outshooting Kingston by 11 shots to 3 but just couldn’t find that all important cushion – and then as often happens in these situations Nottingham made a mistake in their zone which CJ Ashton duly dispatched to tie the game at 51:28. Vipers continued to push for the game winning goal but were left frustrated at having to settle for a point – however the positive signs were there to see and with a few weeks of team training, hopefully that sharpness in front of net will be discovered and ties will become wins.

Vipers had three debutants tonight – Renáta Mudráková, Kelly Daniels and Beatrice Lester who all performed superbly, welcome to Vipers!

MOM – Jessica Urquhart

Robin Mullen 2+0

Vipers U16s run Sheffield Close

Nottingham Vipers U16s faced off against Sheffield Shadows U16s in their third ever game, and last one of 2017. Having lost 18-2 three weeks earlier, Vipers would certainly be up against it today but were boosted by the return of Captain Madison Wright.

Vipers again started slowly, allowing Sheffield captain Grace Garbett to score quickly off the opening faceoff. Vipers were in no mood to collapse again and quickly tied the game up following some excellent solo play by Chamonix Jackson. Sheffield showed just how dangerous they could be in front of goal, quickly taking the lead again at 3:04, and going onto score 3 more goals in as many minutes to end the first period on the front foot at 5-1.

Tactical changes in the period break saw the Vipers U16s come alive. Alternate captain Chamonix Jackson netted two more goals at 22:58 and 25:05, including a shorthanded goal whilst Vipers served a body checking penalty. Excellent netminding from Jemma Dilley kept Sheffield at bay as the momentum swung in Nottingham’s favour, resulting in period 2 ending 5-3

Sheffield gave themselves some breathing room at the start of the third period, scoring at 31:49. Nottingham weren’t done yet and scored two goals in 10 seconds at 32:23 and 32:33 to bring the score within one and put the pressure back on Sheffield, who got the breakthrough they were looking for at 38:17 to re-establish their two goal lead, and thought they’d sealed the game at 41:17 when they scored again to take the score to 8-5. Vipers were in no mood to give up on this game just yet, scoring two goals in 12 seconds at 44:32 and 44:44 to set up a tense finish to the game. The Vipers coaching team called a timeout, but with only 16 seconds left Sheffield were able to hold on to take the 8-7 win.

Despite the loss, the team were pleased with the improvements they showed and are looking forward to testing themselves against Kingston Diamonds on the 27thJanuary.

Vipers lose bad tempered game 5-0 against Chelmsford

Sunday saw the vipers face off against Chelmsford Cobras in the battle of the snakes at the NIC. Nottingham were hoping to build on their win against Widnes, but found themselves short benched against an undefeated Cobras.

Chelmsford scored 5 unanswered goals throughout the first two periods as Nottingham just failed to get their game going. Chelmsford did a good job of limiting Nottingham’s chances to just 12 shots, but when the scoring chances did come they were missed again. Frustrations built for the vipers as they failed to capitalise, resulting in top scorer Megan Rathbone being ejected for fighting in the 31st minute. Vipers poor discipline continued to hamper their play as a string of minor penalties followed in the third period, but the game was already out of reach for Nottingham at this point and all Chelmsford had to do was sit back and wait for the final buzzer.

Megan Rathbone – Tripping (minor), fighting (match)
Lucy Kendall – Boarding (minor), body checking (minor), body checking (minor)

Summer Cramer 54 shots (20,11,23), 5 goals, 90.74 SV%

Shots on goal
Vipers: 12

Vipers beat Widnes for first points of 2017!

The Nottingham Vipers travelled to Cheshire for their first away game of the 17/8 season and emerged victorious against the Widnes Wild with a hard fought victory, returning to Nottingham with a 5-3 score line. Vipers were without several key players, and coupled with an in-game injury to Amy Robinson meant that they were pushed to the limit against the superior bench size of Widnes, but each player dug in deep to give Nottingham the victory they deserved.

Vipers started the first period strongly in all three zones, outplaying their opposition and outshooting them 19 shots to 10. As the scoring chances came, so did the goals with Megan Rathbone putting her first of the game away at 8:34. More was to come just over a minute later at 9:52, when Vipers youngster Madison Wright continued her stella start to the season with a well worked goal. Vipers quickly saw their lead cut at 10:38 when their defensive coverage broke down enabling Widnes to score through traffic. This only spurred on the team as they continued to ask questions of the Widnes goalie, with Megan Rathbone again being rewarded for her prowess around net at 16:11. This third goal saw rookie Laura Richmond pick up her first point of the 2017-18 campaign, which was no less than she deserved with her 100% commitment to the Vipers cause.

During the second period Nottingham decided to push the self-destruct button. Perhaps the short bench and slow ice took their toll, combined with Widnes upping their game which left Nottingham at times found wanting. Mistakes and lacklustre play saw Widnes pull to within one, and they soon had the game tied up at 34:30 with a shorthanded goal following a netminder error. The tie was broken less than a minute later with Megan Rathbone completing her hatrick at 35:19 with a well worked play.

An ice cut for the third period gave the Vipers weary legs the jump they needed. Megan Rathbone quickly restored the two goal lead at 41:25, and the whole team then turned in a complete performance to keep Widnes at bay. Netminder Summer Crammer was excellent when called upon, making several key stops to frustrate Widnes, and the period wound down without further scoring to give Nottingham a well-earned two points.

Vipers outshot their opponents 53 shots to 47, and like the last game could be accused of failing to put their chances away when they came to put the game out of sight. Spirit of the game went to Becky Towsey for her excellent positional play and work ethic, as she continually helped break down the Widnes attack. Up next weekend for the Vipers is a fierce test in top of the table Chelmsford, which is sure to be another end to end game:

Megan Rathbone 4+0
Madison Wright 1+1
Olivia Bennett 0+1
Laura Richmond 0+1
Emma Wilkinson 0+2

Madison Wright – 2 minutes interference
Bench Minor – too many players

Summer Cramer 47 shots (10,21,16), 3 goals, 93.62 SV%

Shots on goal
Vipers: 53

Vipers Remain Top Flight…

The Nottingham Vipers played against unbeaten Coventry Phoenix this evening at Coventry’s Skydome.

After an even first period, the Vipers scored 2 goals in the second period, with the final period ending 5-3 in favour of the Nottingham team. A great end to end game with lots of positives to take away.

Next fixture: Sunday 1st February, 11.15am.

Match Report v Coventry 9.2.14

Nottingham Vipers 2 Coventry Phoenix 5

Nottingham Vipers entered this game on the back of a fine 7-4 win at Sheffield, following a disappointing home defeat against Billingham. Although Coventry had lost their previous game to Kingston, they had won their previous 3 and were therefore eager to turn their recent record into 4 wins from 5. Despite the hard work of Robin Mullen in attack, was the Phoenix who emerged victorious, taking advantage of the Vipers’ short bench.

After a scrappy start to the game, Nottingham’s Robin Mullen managed to get the first shot away, saved easily by net minder Tomara Donaghue.  This then precipitated a phase of Coventry pressure during which Coventry could not generate a meaningful chance but equally, Nottingham were unable to clear effectively. The pressure was released when Robin Mullen had a great shot from the left saved by Donaghue, followed up by a shot from Lucy Kendall from the blue line. Attack then went back into defence when Debra Gibson was forced to make a great save by a swift Coventry attack. There then followed a series of break-out chances; in the first instance Rebecca Cooke had a shot padded away by Tamara Donaghue, this was followed by a Coventry shot which had to be saved by the right hand pipe and finally Robin Mullen nearly broke the deadlock with a shot which powered into the net minder.  Coventry then went onto the offensive, aided by Nottingham’s inability to clear the puck, resulting in Debra Gibson having to freeze the puck in front of a crowd of players. The resulting face off produced a sharp shot which had to be saved at the right hand pipe; the puck was eventually cleared with icing called. From the resulting face off Rosanne Adey scored an even handed unassisted goal to Debra Gibson’s left on 9.31. Directly from the re-start, Coventry nearly scored from the right, the Viper’s only saved by Debra Gibson’s alertness. A further shot from the blue line went over the goal, bounced back from the plexi and produced a perfect shooting opportunity for Hayley Laverick who duly dispatched the puck on 9.58 (assisted Preston Gennoe). The remainder of the period then followed a pattern by which most of the play took place in the Vipers end, with Coventry much more composed on the puck. This pressure was punctuated by the valiant efforts of Robin Mullen. In one case a cleared puck was chased down, Robin then cut in from the left and nearly scored inside the right pipe. Later on, she nearly scored again from another breakaway with the rebound nearly being buried by Emma French. Unfortunately, this was Vipers’ last chance of the period and they found themselves 2 goals down. (Shots on goal 7-9; penalties 2-0.).

The Vipers began Period 2 knowing that they had to pull something back early on if they were to have a chance of getting back into the game. Emma French was soon in the action with a shot which was saved by Donaghue to her left. The resulting face off nearly brought further grief to the Vipers as it generated a Coventry break out which was snuffed out by Debra Gibson. Further pressure from the Vipers produced shots from Rebecca Cooke and Stephanie Thompson, the latter resulting in a melee in front of the Phoenix net which ended with a frozen puck right on the line. From the resulting face off, Emma French shot over the Coventry bar; the resulting bounce from the plexi then brought a Coventry attack which resulted in a pad save from Debra Gibson. Thoughts of a goal almost came to fruition when a run from Lucy Ebinger down the right forced a diving save from the Coventry nettie. From the face off, Kendra Hourd nearly squeezed the puck home in from the left. It was then the Vipers’ turn to breathe a sigh of relief when Debra Gibson was confronted with a 3 on 1 break. Fortunately for her and the Vipers, the final pass was poor and she was able to freeze the puck. However, this attack was a portent of what was to come. At 22.32 Hannah Worthington cut in from the right, taking advantage of Vipers’ inability to control the puck in centre ice, and put the puck past Debra Gibson’s right hand post to extend Coventry’s lead. The assist was given to Crystal Wilkins. Rebecca Cooke attempted to get one back but this was saved by Tamara Donaghue. Coventry continued to be the stronger team; Nottingham’s inability to connect passes together in centre ice meant they were always at a disadvantage from the point of view of initiating a sustained period of offence. At the end of the period Robin Mullen was given a 2 minute minor for a body check. The face off nearly generated a fourth goal for Coventry but the puck whistled past Debra Gibson’s left pipe. That attempt marked the end of the period, with Nottingham having a further 1 minute of penalty kill to withstand at the start of the third period. (Shots on goal 6-12; penalties 2-0).

The final period began with Coventry having a further 1 minute of power play to extend their lead. This produced some pressure on the Vipers’ net but both shots were saved easily by Debra Gibson. Out of nothing, Nottingham had a lifeline with Robin Mullen scoring 2 unassisted back to back goals on 31.27 and 31.55. The first was an inspired move down the left wing with a cut back into the centre to create the shooting chance. The second goal almost came immediately from the re-start with Robin powering through centre ice to slot the puck past the Coventry net minder. Ironically, she nearly scored again with another pick up in centre ice but was unlucky with the final shot. An opportunity to embrace the new momentum which the game had taken emerged on 35.10 when Preston Gennoe received a 2 minute tripping call.  The power play produced 2 substantive shots on goal. The first was from a cross by Robin Mullen to Catherine Jones who hit over and a second from Robin Mullen who took the most direct route to goal from centre ice, only for the puck to be buried by the net minder. However, the Vipers never really took the chance to cycle the puck as they were dispossessed too easily in centre ice. There followed a phase of play which took place in the Vipers’ half but produced no meaningful shot on goal from the Phoenix. However the dynamic of the game changed following an altercation on the right wing between Emma French (2+10) and Hayley Laverick (2). The Vipers then enjoyed the advantage of the extra skater when Agnese Zirdzina took a 2 minute hooking penalty on 41.14. However, the Vipers’ seemed to spend much of the time pinned in their own half unable to break out. Any hope that the Vipers might have had with respect to pulling something back was killed off when Rosanne Adey scored an even handed goal on 43.33. Vipers took a time out but it was inevitable, based on what had happened so far, that the Vipers would be unable to take advantage of the extra skater. Coventry duly ran in an expected empty netter on 43.55.  A disappointing end to the game but, on balance, Coventry did outplay the Vipers in the key areas. The final score was about right. (shots on goal: 7-11; penalties 12-6).

The spirit of the game award was given to Lucy Ebinger #11 which was thoroughly deserved for her hard work and passion every shift.


Match Report v Billingham 19.1.14

Nottingham Vipers 3 Billingham Lady Stars 4

Nottingham Vipers contrived to lose a game they had expected to win in a one-goal game against the league’s bottom team. Vipers were hoping to gather momentum at the start of 2014 following a last-gasp home win against Manchester at the end of November and an 8-1 defeat at league leaders Whitley Squaws just before Christmas. Billingham were looking for their first win of the season after having had four straight defeats.

Billingham took the initiative at the start of period 1, with the Vipers seemingly unable to turn defence into a meaningful attack. The play was scrappy, with missed passes by both sides. It was no surprise that Billingham had the first shot on goal of the match when Joy Craighead strolled through centre ice; her shot was saved by Debra Gibson in the Vipers’ goal. This seemed to be a wake-up call, with the Vipers replying quickly with an attack up the right wing which was eventually cleared by the Stars’ defence. However, this precipitated back-to-back attacks from Billingham with Rachel Serrell and Sarah Burlington-Jackson both requiring intervention by Debra Gibson. Momentum then switched the other way when Laura Smith’s goal-bound shot was saved by Megan Quigley; this was followed by excellent interplay between Laura Smith and Robin Mullen, with the latter hitting the outside of the right hand pipe. Subsequent shots by Paige Dance and Michelle Peat did not trouble the net minder, the former running across the goal, the latter going over the crossbar. Robin Mullen then prompted a good stick save. Despite these attacks, the Vipers did not look confident. The play from both sides was scrappy with numerous attempts to take the initiative breaking down in centre ice due to sloppy passing and failure to control a bouncing puck. Towards the end of the period, Rebecca Cooke’s shot required a save from Megan Quigley and then Paige Dance’s shot across goal was inches away from Claudia Venables’ stick for what would have broken the deadlock. However, it was Billingham who finally took the initiative with an even-handed, unassisted goal, by Alison Walworth at 14.46.   The period closed with Nottingham attempting a shot on goal following the face-off, but this was saved easily. The period was summed up by the fact that both sides could only muster 6 shots on goal apiece, with neither conceding penalty minutes.

The Vipers began Period 2 more positively with Robin Mullen hitting the post with the first attack following the face-off. This was followed by Emma French nearly getting a tip in from a pass from Robin Mullen. This was agonisingly close. However Billingham nearly extended their lead when the Vipers defence seemed unable to clear their lines. The bobbling puck eventually got caught up in an array of bodies, leading to a face off which was cleared safely. However, things got worse when a horrible Vipers line change not only converted a promising attack into a penalty kill situation 9too many skaters), but also led to Billingham’s second goal when Joy Craighead (assisted Jenny Henir and Rachel Serrell) slotted the puck home following a rebound on 17.38. Worse was to come. Vipers’ ongoing inability to clear their lines soon resulted in Billingham’s third goal when Rachel Serrell scored a deserved even handed unassisted goal at 19.09. Her solo incursions into Vipers’ territory had been a problem for the home team all game and this goal was waiting to happen. At long last, Vipers managed to get a goal back when Paige Dance skilfully slotted the puck over Megan Quigley’s shoulder to score a very nice goal (assisted Emma French). It could easily have been a second goal when Emma French hit the pipe, only for the puck to bounce into the grateful hands of Megan Quigley. After putting the Stars under pressure following a 2 minute interference call on Stars’ Philippa Blackburn, the Vipers then lost concentration to allow Rachel Serrell to score another even handed solo goal on 28.27. The period finished with the Vipers on power play. Paige Dance put in a good shot at the close, but this hit the net minder’s chest. The period had continued to be somewhat scrappy, with Billingham making fewer mistakes, factor which gave them their overall edge.

(Period shots on goal: 5-12, penalties 4-4).

The final period began with 1.17 left on the Vipers power play. They immediately went on the attack from the initial face off with a shot from Emma French producing a good pad save. This was followed by a great goal from Paige Dance on 30.37 (assisted Lucy Kendall). In many respects, a replica of her first goal, the puck powering over Megan Quigley’s shoulder to make the net bulge. Vipers continued to attack. However, all nearly came to grief when the Rachel Serrell cleared up at the back, only to cut across the ice diagonally from the right and nearly putting the puck past Debra Gibson. Vipers continued to attack, with Robin Mullen and Rebecca Cooke both forcing saves from the net minder. Belinda Chillman then hit the pipe but unfortunately the Vipers were unable to dig the puck out from the melee which followed. On 36.45 Robin Mullen made Vipers renewed dominance by scoring an excellent unassisted goal for the Vipers, having weaved through the Billingham defence to slot the puck through the 5-hole. This goal gave impetus to further sieges on the Billingham goal, the first resulting in the puck bobbling around the Stars’ goal, the second when Robin Mullen hit the post following an aborted line change by Billingham. However, Billingham then went on the offensive, taking advantage of Vipers’ inability to clear the puck in key areas; this phase of play resulted in the Vipers having to endure a period of penalty kill, at one point 5 on 3. Thankfully Debra Gibson stood tall and the deficit remained at one goal. Brilliant breakout by Emma French nearly resulted in a goal for the Vipers with the puck frozen right on the line by Megan Quigley. Vipers entered the last two minutes with memories of their last home game – would a goal emerge right at the death this time? Things moved in the right direction when the Stars took a 2 minute penalty for a body check on 43.58. A time out was taken and the nettie was pulled to generate a 6 on 4 power play but the resulting siege on the Billingham goal produced shots which hit defenders or the net minder. Billingham survived and ran out winners by 4 goals to 3.

(Period shots on goal: 8-6, pens 4-12). Paige Dance (2+0) was given the Spirit of the Game award.

Match Report v Manchester 24.11.13

Nottingham took on Manchester Lady Phoenix at the National Ice Centre today in what turned out to be a fantastic end to end game with Nottingham only confirming both points in the final minute of the game.

Nottingham head coach Ryan Rathbone had the chance to ice an almost full strength team today, with Rebecca Speckman coming back to the Vipers nest. What a difference a full team made, as the Vipers flew out of the blocks in direct contrast to the recent Telford game. Manchester seemed to be having some problems getting their full roster to the bench, as players kept arriving throughout the first period. Nevertheless, they stood tall against a Nottingham team who were throwing everything they had at Manchester netminder Stephanie Drinkwater, who came up with some great saves to keep the Vipers at bay. The Phoenix were finally beaten at 8:31 with a second goal of the season for the ever-present third liner Kendra Hourd, who found herself unmarked at the back door to slot home after controlling a pinpoint pass from Vipers alternate captain Michelle Peat. The score board wouldn’t stay still for long, as exactly one minute later Rebecca Speckman delightedly announced her return, firing unassisted past a shell-shocked Manchester goalie. Both teams traded tripping penalties around the 10 minute mark, with neither team mustering anything of note on the special teams. In fact, Nottingham’s goalie Holly Steeples enjoyed a very quiet period thanks to shrewd defending by the Vipers defence, who only allowed her to face 3 shots all period, which she saved with ease.

With Manchester finally able to boast a larger bench, Nottingham stopped having it all their own way in the 2nd period as the Phoenix began to take flight. They clawed one back at 18:13, a superb solo effort from Zuzana Zauadiloua. Not to be deterred, Nottingham pushed forward and drew a tripping penalty from the Manchester Captain. On the ensuing delayed penalty, Nottingham’s Robin Mullen drove the net hard, forcing a save from Manchester’s goalie. The puck seemed to be loose, and everyone piled in forcing Manchester’s netminder back into her crease. With the goal judge unable to see if the puck had crossed the line, it was left to Refereeing duo P Braisby and J Susters to deem if the puck had indeed slid into the net with goalie Stephanie Drinkwater. They wasted little to no time awarding the goal, awarding it to Robin Mullen with the assist going to Captain Julia Coughill at 19:01. The teams again traded powerplay chances, but that was to prove to be the end of the scoring in a much more even second period, with Nottingham facing 12 shots to Manchester’s 11.

The third period started off relatively tamely, both teams traded shots on goal but seemed unable to score the goal that would either put the game to bed or reignite the comeback. Manchester was to be the team to strike, as Emma Middleton broke down the wing. Nottingham defenseman Rebecca Meats did a sterling effort forcing her wide, but Middleton fired a pinpoint shot from an acute angle, flying over netminder Steeples glove into the top corner at 38:38. The comeback was on, and from the ensuing face off the Nottingham defence pinched too high, leaving the Nottingham goalie to face a two on one break which she came desperately close to clearing off the line to tie the game 3-3 at 38:57. The Phoenix had well and truly risen from the ashes, and must have been confident of taking at least a point from the National Ice Centre as the clock wound down. This looked to be the case, until coach Rathbone wisely used his timeout to try and rescue both points. In the last 24 seconds of the game, Robin Mullen stole the puck off the manchester defence after great effort by Nottingham’s top line, and found the back of the net for her second of the night, prompting celebrations on the Vipers bench. Nottingham held on for the remaining few seconds, and skated away with a well earned two points in a 4-3 game. Spirit of the game went to Natalie Clare, who was playing her first game on D for the club, using her strong skating to great effect to help keep the Phoenix at bay.

Match Report v Telford 10.11.13

Nottingham made the short drive across to the Energy Centre in Telford today to take on the Wrekin Raiders. These two teams previously met in Nottingham a few short weeks ago, with Nottingham emerging the victors by a score of 5-1.

This fixture saw a much depleted Nottingham side take the ice, with no less than 4 key players unavailable for this game. Telford lined up in similar fashion to their previous encounter. The Raiders came storming out of the blocks, in a theme that would continue for most of the game, forcing early saves from Nottingham netminder Debi Gibson. Vipers Paige Dance was the first player to fall foul of the officials at 3:09 with a 2 minute call for body-checking. More pressure from Telford ensued and Nottingham had to dig deep, as soon as their defensive zone was cleared Telford kept brining it right back in. The pressure proved too much and at 11:39 Telford broke the deadlock with a goal from the face-off circle, finding it’s way through Gibson’s 5 hole. Nottingham could still not find a way to sustain any meaningful pressure on the Telford goal, and only managed their first shot on goal at 14:40. Nottingham’s Lucy Kendall again found herself on the wrong side of the officials with a 2 minute tripping call at 15:59, much to the delight of the Telford bench. However, this finally proved to be the spark Nottingham needed as they upped the forechecking on the penalty kill, with great individual efforts from captain Julia Coughill and Rebecca Cooke managing to test the Telford defense. When Telford finally managed to gain the zone on the powerplay, Nottingham’s number 23 Paige Dance put her head on the line, literally, to break down the attack. Nottingham were rewarded for their concentrated efforts at 18:56, when Coughill managed to beat the Telford netminder to tie the game at 1-1. This seemed to rock Telford, as the final minute was all Nottingham, with Coughill going close again.

Nottingham started the 2nd period as they ended the first, with sustained pressure from all three lines. Laura Smith, Rebecca Cooke, Emma French and Julia Coughill again lead the charge. It was only a matter of time before this pressure paid off, and it was Laura Smith who slid the puck past the Telford netminder at the backdoor after controlling a neat pass from captain Coughill, who forced a turnover on the boards at 6:09 to provide the 2 on 0 chance. Telford refused to give up and really started to bring the game to Nottingham, who themselves refused to be undone and continued to work the Telford goalie. Luck certainly seemed to be with Nottingham, as Telford rang the puck off both the crossbar and the post in quick succession. Telford got the break they deserved in slightly controversial circumstances, as the referee missed a blatant man in the crease call, only for Telford to capitalise for the equaliser when play really should of been whistled down at 14:06. Nottingham piled on the pressure for the final 5 minutes, with Emma French and Laura Smith working well together but unable to find the back of the net.


WIth a tied game heading into the third period, both teams had it all to play for. Nerves seemed to creep in at the start with both teams icing the puck back and forth, giving the officiating team the chance to display their interesting interpretation of the icing rule in women’s ice hockey. Telford broke the deadlock 2 minutes into the third, firing the puck past netminder Gibson. This seemed to spur Telford on, and for the next 5 minutes Debi had to be at her best to keep Nottingham in the game. Nottingham did manage a few individual efforts from Julia Coughill and Paige Dance, but the Telford goalie was in no mood to be beaten, until an opportunistic shot from Paige Dance fell kindly for Laura Smith  who roofed it past the sprawled Telford netminder at 8:12. The tentative play continued, until Paige Dance was called on a weak interference call. Whilst Telford failed to capitalise on the powerplay, tired legs and minds were starting to set in for the short benched Nottingham team, who made a mess of the line change at the end of the powerplay allowing Telford to walk into the zone for an easy goal at 10:07. Confidence seemed to be with Telford now, as Nottingham seemed unable to break down Telford’s stifling neutral zone. Frustrations finally took their toll as Lucy Kendall took a body checking penalty that would prove to be the nail in Nottingham’s coffin. After a brief period of Vipers pressure Telford broke into the Nottingham defensive zone, got set up and scored at 17:39 to make the score 5-3. Vipers called a timeout but to no avail as Telford wound the clock down and gleefully collected the two points. Spirit of the game for Nottingham went to Laura Smith for her points production and hard forechecking.

Match Report v Blackburn 3.11.13

Blackburn entered the game with a 0-2 record for the season, while Nottingham’s first two games had resulted in a win and a draw. With Nottingham also having won five of the six previous fixtures between the two teams, previous statistics suggested a relatively easy Nottingham win. In reality, the game was a tense affair which could have gone either way, with Nottingham finally overcoming Blackburn with two late goals, following a flurry of penalties in the last five minutes of the final period.

Period 1 began tentatively with Blackburn enjoying the first substantial attack of the game, forcing a save from Holly Steeples at 0.29. This was followed by two attacks from Nottingham, the first producing a shot from Paige Dance from the right, the second, from Rebecca Cooke following a pass by Robin Mullen. The teams continued to trade attacks through the period, with Blackburn hitting the pipe at 9.36 and Nottingham forcing a glove save from Sarah Bloor shortly afterwards. Great work by Robin Mullen then precipitated a melee around the Blackburn net, which resulted in a minor pushing scuffle. Nottingham enjoyed a period on power play when Blackburn’s Megan Bowen-Fell received 2 minutes for holding the stick at 9.51. However, the same player left the penalty box to score an unassisted even handed goal shortly afterwards at 12.03 to give Blackburn the lead. A tense first period came to a close with Blackburn leading 1-0 (period s.o.g. 9-11, pens 2-4).

The second period began in the same manner of the first with Blackburn making the first substantive attack requiring Holly Steeples to cover the puck. This was followed by a brilliant run from Robin Mullen which nearly brought the equalising goal. A subsequent shot by Rebecca Cooke which required a good save from the Blackburn net minder seemed to encourage the Vipers into a period of dominance after which the game returned to its previous pattern of the two teams trading shots which required both goal tenders to be alert and to respond quickly. Rebecca Cooke was unlucky with two shots, having been set up nicely on both occasions by Julia Coughill. The momentum of the game finally changed when Blackburn’s Megan Bowenfell took another penalty for holding the stick. With just over 5 minutes of the period remaining and Nottingham camped around the Blackburn goal, Paige Dance was able to thread the puck through the Blackburn defence from just inside the blue line to score a power play goal, having been fed the puck by Emma French. This was a deserved equaliser as Nottingham had been the better side during the period, though Blackburn were always threatening on the break. As the clock ticked down, Blackburn’s Rachel Linton just missed the Vipers’ goal following a fine run down the left. Berni Chillman then managed to pounce on a loose puck in centre ice only for the resulting shot to be saved by the Blackburn net minder. Following on, Julia Coughill and Robin Mullen were both unlucky with shots that just went by the post. The period closed with the scores tied at 1-1 (period s.o.g. 11-5, pens 2-2).

In this very tight game, the first substantive shot of the third period was an attempt by Michelle Peat which forced Sarah Bloor to parry the puck to prevent a goal. There was then a period when the two teams traded shots resulting in good stops by Holly Steeples and Sarah Bloor. Emma French was continuing to go close but Blackburn were able to turn defence into attack when clearing the puck.  It was becoming very clear, as the period progressed, that the game would end as a one goal game. Lucy Kendall nearly broke the deadlock with a great shot but a subsequent break-out nearly led to Blackburn’s Beckie Elliot getting one past Holly Steeples. The last 5 minutes of the game produced a series of incidents which ultimately defined the game’s result. It started when Blackburn’s Philippa Riddoch was given a 2 minute minor for holding (39.49) and Elizabeth Aspinall a 2 minute slashing minor (40.13) straight after Blackburn had enjoyed a power play opportunity following a hooking call on Julia Coughill (38.36). Although short-handed, Blackburn managed to break through the deadlock to score on 40.55 following a face-off. Blackburn’s Catherine Bowenfell then took a 10 minute misconduct major for abuse of the official. With Blackburn visibly losing their concentration and shape, Rebecca Cooke levelled the score on 42.55, assisted by Julia Coughill, following intense pressure. The goal prompted the Blackburn net minder to take exception to the officiating, only to land herself with her own 10 minute major (42.55). With Blackburn picking up a further 2 minute interference minor on 43.24 (Sarah Linton), the momentum had moved in Nottingham’s direction and further pressure saw Paige Dance get her second power play goal of the game on 44.08, assisted by a nice touch by Lucy Kendall. With little time to respond Blackburn had to settle with a 3-2 defeat (period s.o.g. 11-5, pens 2-26). For an excellent all round performance, Rebecca Meats received the MoM award.