IN what has been an understandably testing debut campaign, Hull Pirates finally got a first regulation win under their belts in the English Premier League.
Dominic Osman’s team had to wait until game 18 for their first taste of success inside 60 minutes. When it came it was a thrilling 3-2 triumph on home ice against second-placed Basingstoke Bison - a team they had lost to on the road by the same scoreline back in September.
With new netminder Marty Raitums between the pipes - the 30-year-old Latvian back for a second spell with the club - the hosts had fallen behind to a 12th-minute strike by Tomas Karpov.
Having capitulated to an 11-0 defeat on the road at Peterborough Phantoms the previous Sunday, some Hull fans may have expected more goals to come from the visitors.
But Osman’s well-drilled team - who went down 6-4 at Swindon Wildcats the previous night - held firm and, after a goalless second period, that was how the score remained until 42.42 when Pasi Salonen levelled on the powerplay with Joe Rand in the penalty box for high sticks.
Again Basingstoke went in front, with Aaron Connelly’s goal making it 2-1 with just under nine minutes remaining.
But it was Hull’s powerplay that again came into play when, at 56.28, Tommi Laine found the back of the net after Declan Balmer had been called for interference.
Overtime looked the most likely outcome, but Hull had other ideas. With Salonen in the box on an interference call, Laine stunned Bison by grabbing his second of the night shorthanded with just 73 seconds remaining on the clock, the Pirates holding on for a famous victory.
Hull remain firmly rooted to the bottom of the table, seven points adrift of eighth-placed Sheffield Steeldogs, who had a mixed weekend.
Greg Wood’s side got the better of rivals Manchester Phoenix 4-2 at home on Saturday, but couldn’t back it up on the road at Peterborough when they went down 6-4.
The Steeldogs did it the hard way on Saturday, coming from 2-0 down to gain revenge for a 5-2 loss at Manchester back in September.
Nico Aaltonen put the visitors ahead at 7.34, with their lead being doubled at 26.08 through Stanislav Gron.
But the Steeldogs halved the deficit inside a minute when Ashley Calvert fired home before two goals in just over a minute gave them the lead before the end of the second period.
Lubomir Korhon was the man to do the damage, levelling for the hosts at 38.34 before adding his second of the night at 39.50.
Although Phoenix outshot their hosts by almost two-to-one in the third, the only other goal came at the other end, Korhon completing a memorable hat-trick at 56.43 with a powerplay strike.
A poor second period cost Steeldogs dearly in Peterborough the night before, despite them twice taking the lead.
Calvert gave the visitors a 14th-minute lead before the hosts levelled through Will Weldon just over four minutes later.
Stanislav Lascek restored Sheffield’s lead early in the second only for the Phantoms to restore parity quickly once again through former Nottingham Panthers’ forward Marc Levers.
That was the first of four goals in just over six minutes for the hosts, who stormed into a 5-2 lead through further strikes from Weldon, former Steeldogs forward Edgars Bebris and James Ferrara.
With just under three minutes remaining it looked like being a simple victory for the hosts, but the visitors had other ideas when, first Arnoldas Boas made it 5-3 at 57.08, before Korhon added to his Roses heroics the previous day by reducing the lead to one goal with 79 seconds remaining.
But, as they pushed for an equaliser and overtime and pulled goaltender Dalibor Sedlar, the Steeldogs left themselves exposed and Peterborough made the points safe through Levers’ empty-net strike.