HULL PIRATES delivered a strong message to their English Premier League rivals when registering another four-point weekend to remain in touch at the top of the standings.
Most notable for Dominic Osman’s team was how they started the weekend, handing a first regulation loss to leaders Telford Tigers by cruising to a 6-0 triumph to maintain their unbeaten home record.
The East Yorkshire club then ended the weekend seven points adrift of Telford with a game in hand, but only after a securing a 4-3 win in overtime at strugglers Manchester Phoenix.
It was also a positive weekend for Sheffield Steeldogs, who produced a stunning comeback before settling for a point in a 4-3 overtime loss at second-placed Milton Keynes Lightning before enjoying a 6-2 win over Swindon Wildcats on home ice.
It was player-coach Osman who got the puck rolling on Saturday at home to Telford when he opened the scoring after just 19 seconds. Stanislav Lascek doubled the lead in the eighth minute.
But three unanswered goals in the second period put the game beyond the reach of the visitors, a powerplay strike from Jaroslav Sarsok at 24.30 adding to Hull’s tally before a brace from Nathan Salem. It got worse for the leaders when the league’s top goalscorer, Andrej Themar got in on the act to complete the scoring two minutes into the third.
It proved a much more difficult task for the Pirates on Sunday, three times having to come from behind with Themar and Lascek among the scorers before the game went to penalty shots where the extra point went the way of the visitors.
Greg Wood’s Steeldogs could count themselves unlucky in Milton Keynes when they staged a rousing comeback after finding themselves 3-0 down after two periods.
The first hint of a revival came through a powerplay strike from Donatas Kumeliauskas in the 47th minute. Hopes were raised further when the 29-year-old Lithuanian pounced again on the man advantage just over six minutes later.
The visitors then forced the game into overtime through a dramatic last-minute strike from Pavel Mrna, but the Steeldogs’ joy was to prove short-lived when Lewis Hook grabbed the extra point for the hosts just 14 seconds in.
A three-point weekend was sealed in comfortable style back on home ice on Sunday, but only after a mad opening spell produced five goals, leaving Sheffield 3-2 ahead.
Callum Pattison opened the goal blitz at 3.19 with Swindon’s Tomasz Malasinski levelling on the popwerplay a minute later.
Mark Smith then put the visitors ahead in the sixth minute, before the Steeldogs came back to seize the initiative through strikes from Tomas Brcko and Kumeliauskas.
Mrna’s 13th-minute marker ensured the hosts went in at the first period break 4-2 ahead.
Adrian Palak made it 5-2 in the 26th minute before Arnoldas Bosas added a third period shorthanded strike to complete a deserved win.