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Officials Feel the Heat on Fiery Opening Night

The McTimoney Chiropractic Bracknell Hornets started the season off with a loss to Berkshire rivals, the Slough Jets.

With pre-season now over, this early evening game provided the Hornets with their first chance to put some points on the board and get the season started on a positive note. The game was always going to be a test against last season’s NIHL 2 division winners, but it was the officiating that took centre stage in this match-up.

Opening night jitters were evident in the first couple of minutes, but the Hornets quickly felt their way into the game. However, it was the Jets that would break the deadlock. Just over halfway into the first period, Sam Talbot opened the scoring for the home team. Disappointing for the Hornets, as goaltender Tom Annetts was really strong in the first, facing a total of 19 shots on goal.

It was just over a minute later that the game was turned on its head. Forward Michael Stratford was ejected from the game for what looked to be a high stick. Despite protests from the fans and players, the referee stuck to her guns and Stratford played no further part in the game. The Hornets were already shorthanded when this penalty was called, but they pulled off an incredible penalty kill to keep themselves in the game in an elongated Jets powerplay.

That wasn’t the end of the penalties in the first period. Forwards Connor Hutchinson and Josh Ealey-Newman both picked up big penalties as the game threated to boil over completely. Hutchinson served 10 minutes for misconduct, while Josh Ealey-Newman somehow managed to spend a total of 16 minutes in the box for roughing and misconduct, after he was boarded by Sean Norris of the Jets, who served 12 minutes for his part in the events.

The first period finished with the home team in front and the Hornets having to start the second period shorthanded once again. That didn’t seem to faze them though, as they came out firing. Less than two minutes into the second period, Steve Osman took advantage of a two on one scenario, playing catch with Ben Ealey-Newman, before slotting it past Matt Smital in the Jets goal.

Yet more Hornets penalties followed, as the officials really tried to put their stamp on the game. By this point, it seemed fairly obvious that they themselves had lost control of the game and were desperately trying to re-establish themselves. The game was tied at one a piece at the end of the second period.

It took the Jets all of nine seconds of the third period to regain the lead, Sean Norris with the early tally. It wasn’t long after the Jets gained their lead, that they managed to extend it. Harry Harcup made it three and gave the Hornets a lot to do in the third.

Unfortunately for the Hornets, the officials once again decided to make their presence known. Harvey Hind-Pitcher took 2 + 10, ruling him out of the rest of the game. Only for Matt Foord to then be served 2 + 20, 50 seconds later. To rub salt in the wounds, the Jets scored their fourth goal of the game on the resulting powerplays.

In what looked like an opportunity to possibly salvage something from the game, Tamas Elias looked to have been clipped on a breakaway, but nothing was called. The Jets regained control of the puck and while through on goal, Ben Ealey-Newman was given 2 + 10 for clipping. Another Hornets player that would play no further part in this game.

Overall, the Hornets were awarded a total of 129 penalty minutes over the course of the game. A large source of frustration for the players, coaches and fans.

McTimoney Chiropractic Bracknell Hornets goals:

  • 21:51 Steve Osman assisted by Ben Ealey-Newman

Slough Jets goals:

  • 11:01 Sam Talbot assisted by Juha Lindgren & Stewart Tait
  • 40:09 Sean Norris assisted by Sam Talbot
  • 42:25 Harry Harcup assisted by Luke Dreelan
  • 49:00 Sam Talbot assisted by Daniel Rose & Sean Norris

Shots faced: Tom Annetts (BRA) 63 shots – 93.65%, Matt Smital (SLO) 31 shots – 96.77%

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