HULL PIRATES may have been forced to do it the hard way, but they emerged from a tough NIHL National weekend with a maximum four-point haul.
Both victories came without player-coach Jason Hewitt in the line-up, both required overtime to secure the extra point, a 4-3 win at Basingstoke Bison ending a four-game losing run for the Pirates before an equally-dramatic 5-4 win at home to Leeds Chiefs took them up to sixth in the standings.
As for Leeds, a point was the least they deserved in a pulsating first-ever derby between the two teams, although a 4-3 defeat the previous night at joint-leaders Swindon Wildcats will have left player-coach Sam Zajac rightly frustrated at not having taken more from the weekend.
Hull took the lead through the returning Bobby Chamberlain at 6.11, but Leeds were level just 33 seconds later through Ethan Hehir’s first of the campaign.
Two second-period strikes from Josh Gent put the Pirates in control,but the Chiefs refused to go away, halving the deficit through Lewis Baldwin at 33.08 and then drawing level again through a short-handed strike from former Pirates forward James Archer at 43.19.
The hosts looked to have the game won when, with just 92 seconds left, Chamberlain struck his second of the night.
But, with just 23 seconds remaining the Chiefs earned themselves a point through Adam Barnes, although their hopes of a second win of the season were soon dashed when Lee Haywood struck an overtime winner just 27 seconds in.
“I’ve said all summer what a strong team Swindon are and so to run them as a close as we did on the road with everything we’ve got going on, gives us plenty of positives to work on,” said Zajac.
“In Hull, on the balance of the two teams out there, I felt we had enough to get the win, so that was frustrating – but there were some great performances across the weekend.”
Saturday was to prove a miserable night for Sheffield Steeldogs who, after losing 3-2 late on home ice to Swindon on Friday night, went down 4-2 at Telford Tigers.
Two-way forward Kieran Brown had put the Steeldogs ahead at 14.18 only for Tom Watkins’s side to level three minutes later through Jed Moreland.
There was little to choose between the two until late in the third when the Tigers went ahead through Jonathan Weaver with a short-handed effort.
Dominik Florian then made it 3-1 to the hosts at 44.16 and the game was put to bed at 56.21 by former Steelers’ forward Brandon Whistle before Steeldogs’ captain Lewis Bell grabbed a late consolation.
Leeds had held their own in Swindon, with Radek Meidl’s 46th-minute strike drawing them level at 3-3 after earlier efforts from team-mates Steven Moore and Adam Barnes.
But the visitors were to be undone by a game-winning strike from player-coach Aaron Nell at 53.38.
Hull ultimately prevailed in Hampshire thanks to a Peter Fabus overtime winner but, after going ahead through a fifth-minute Jonathan Kirk strike, then found themselves trailing 3-1 after 35 minutes.
But Haywood halved the deficit at 37.03 before a power play strike from Sam Towner brought them level at 52.47, setting up Fabus for his match-winning strike.