HULL PIRATES got off to the perfect four-point start in their NIHL National campaign, leaving them joint-top with Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Steeldogs.
It required a Matty Davies-inspired comeback for Hull to follow-up the previous night’s 5-4 win at Milton Keynes Lightning with another two points in their home opener against the much-fancied Swindon Wildcats.
Jason Hewitt’s team looked down and out when trailing 6-4 with just over two minutes remaining but, in a remarkable late turnaround, Davies gave them hope when doubled his tally for the night with a second power play goal at 57.52.
Just 54 seconds later, Davies struck again with his hat-trick strike, forcing the game into overtime where, suitably, he popped up with the game-winning goal at 62.42.
Having taken a fourth-minute lead through Bobby Chamberlain, Hull trailed 3-1 after 20 after a first-period hat-trick for Tomasz Malasinski.
The Pirates clawed their way back level through Lee Booner’s power play marker at 22.57 before Davies got his first of the night - also on the man advantage - at 35.19.
Max Birbraer restored Swindon’s lead at 41.44 only for the hosts to again hit back, this time through Kevin Phillips at 54.20.
But Hull looked like they were heading for home opening night misery when Swindon player-coach Aaron Nell and then Birbraer with a second made it 6-4. It was then that Davies came to the fore to inspire a near-miraculous comeback win.
The Pirates had to endure a late comeback from Milton Keynes on the road the previous night, when goals from Bonner, Chamberlain, Peter Fabus (2) and Hewitt saw them establish a 5-2 lead by the halfway mark.
But the visitors were made to endure saw nervous moments, particularly in the closing stages after Cale Tanaka’s 49th-minute strike made it a one-goal game, although the Lightning couldn’t close the gap any further.
Sheffield Steeldogs are just ahead of their Yorkshire rivals at the top of the table after they followed up their curtain-raising 3-1 win over Leeds Chiefs with a 6-4 win at home to the Lightning on Su nday night.
The Steeldogs got themselves 3-1 ahead early in the second period thanks to strikes from Nathan Salem, Vladimir Luka and Ashley Calvert but, with 10 minutes remaining, found themselves pegged back at 4-4 after goals from Leigh Jamieson, Russell Cowley and Tomas Kana – broken up by an Alex Graham strike at 39.41 for the hosts.
But, ultimately, Ben Morgan’s team had too much for the Lightning, with goals from James Spurr and Salem, sealing the win.
Leeds are still searching for their first win after twice giving up the lead in their NIHL National clash with hosts Telford Tigers before losing out 5-2.
Back-to-back road games next weekend at Milton Keynes Lightning and Bracknell Bees offer the Chiefs the next opportunity to record that historic first win.
The Chiefs took the lead inside three minutes at Telford, James Archer first to react to a rebound off a Radek Meidl shot at 2.39. Telford rallied, however, and were level at 6.22 with a short-handed strike from Dominik Florian.
Lewis Baldwin restored the visitors’ lead with a fierce shot at 11.08 but, once again, the hosts showed their quality when Adam Taylor levelled six minutes later.
Crucially, the Chiefs conceded two goals inside four second-period minutes, Jack Watkins’s strike at 34.00 being followed up by another from Florian at 37.39 to make it 4-2.
It was a blow the visitors never recovered from, their hopes effectively ended when Joe Aston made it 5-2 at 48.05.