HULL PIRATES slipped to a second defeat of the English Premier League campaign but stayed close on the heels of their rivals at the top of the table.
Having eased past Peterborough Phantoms 3-0 in East Yorkshire, Dominic Osman’s team staged a promising comeback from 4-1 down on the road at Guildford Flames before eventually going down 6-3.
The damage was done in Surrey during a poor second period which saw the hosts fire in 19 shots on Jordan Marr’s goal, scoring three goals.
The Flames had gone ahead through a short-handed Tom Duggan strike at 7.34 before the Pirates drew level on a James Chilcott powerplay marker at 18.58.
Former Hull Stingrays’ D-man Kevin Phillips restored the home side’s advantage 28 seconds after the restart before a Ben Campbell double at 27.33 and 32.16 left the visitors with a mountain to climb.
But, try they did – Osman’s players giving themselves hope with a second goal of the night with just 30 seconds remaining on the clock in the middle period from Ryan Watt.
That deficit became one when Stanislav Lascek struck at 45.52 but, as Hull pushed hard for an equaliser, Marcus Kristofferson made it 5-3, with Andrew Hemmings’ empty-netter with 57 seconds remaining still needed to settle any nerves among the home support.
On Saturday, Hull enjoyed a relatively straightforward win over Peterborough on home ice.
They got off to the perfect start when Jason Hewitt fired home after just 55 seconds, altough that was how it stayed until the early part of the third period when Osman’s team put some welcome distance between themselves and their opponents. The second came at 41.38 when Chilcott made the powerplay count with Peter Stepanek in the box for a hooking call.
Just over four minutes later, Lee Bonner took advantage on a delayed penalty call to settle matters.
Sheffield Steeldogs endured a frustrating weekend, going down twice in a double-header against 2015-16 champions Basingstoke Bison.
After a long trip down to Hampshire on Saturday, the hosts put aside a stuttering start to their title defence by getting on the board early through former Edinburgh Capitals forward Rene Jarolin, who fired past James Hadfield in the Steeldogs goal at 5.34.
The visitors were heavily outshot 53-15 on the night but managed to stay in the game, only going two behind in the 35th minute when Aaron Connolly pounced.
What had looked like a foregone conclusion for most of the evening was confirmed in the 54th minute when Matt Towalski sealed a comfortable win for Basingstoke.
Back on home ice 24 hours later, Greg Wood’s side proved a better match for their opponents, recovering from a seventh-minute Shaun Thompson strike through Andrew Hirst’s powerplay reply at 12.19.
Towalski repeated his scoring effort from the previous night to restore the visitors’ lead at 18.51 with a short-handed effort but again the hosts were soon level through Liam Kirk’s powerplay markler with just three seconds of the first period remaining.
Just under four minutes into the second, Arnoldas Bosas then put Sheffield ahead for the first and only time over the weekend. However, a double strike from Ivan Antonov – the second coming early in the third – saw the visitors again seize the initative, although they were peggged back yet again when Tomas Brcko’s struck on a delayed penalty call at 48.42.
It was left to Tomas Karpov to deliver the crucial blow, though, finding a way past Hadfield with just under three minutes remaining on the clock.
With results elsewhere going against them, the Steeldogs ended the weekend in eighth spot overall.