In the opening weekend of the 2019/20 inaugural National League campaign, Smailes Goldie Hull Pirates hit a perfect four with a 5-4 away win over MK Lightning and a 7-6 home victory over Swindon Wildcats.
On Sunday, against Swindon, in front of a packed stadium, his Worshipful, the Lord Mayor of Hull and Admiral of the Humber, Cllr. Steve Wilson, opened the season with a speech followed by a ceremonial puck drop and banner raising. He also celebrated Hull Pirates’ proud honour of being granted use of the Hull 3 Crowns symbol, a rare privilege for any sports club or business.
Ian Mowforth, Pirates’ Media Spokesperson commented, ‘During the summer we looked to cement our roots in the community. I applied for a civic reception and then use of the 3 Crowns symbol. The Lord Mayor has been instrumental in granting our application for the 3 Crowns and to commemorate the accolade, Shame Smith designed and produced a special edition shirt bearing the city crest.’
After the opening ceremony, Pirates’ faithful were then treated to a spectacular sound and vision treat before the game commenced.
On an evening which celebrated the Pirates’ achievements of last season, it was home-grown player Matty Davies who stole the show, scoring four goals including the game winner.
The Pirates took the early lead when Jason Hewitt’s initial shot was saved by Reny Marr in the Wildcats’ net only to fall to Bobby Chamberlain to poke home just after 3 minutes.
Swindon wasted little time in responding; Tomasz Malasinski finding himself one-on-one with Ash Smith after 9 minutes and beating the young goalie with some strong stickwork.
A spree of penalties followed as both sides tried to gain the upper hand; until a shot from Malasinski found the net after 15 minutes. The Wildcats ended the first period with a third goal, Malasinski completing his hat-trick with just 9 seconds of the opening 20 minutes remaining.
The second began with both teams exchanging penalties until Lee Bonner rang a shot off the post and past Marr after 23 minutes to bring the Pirates within one. Chance after chance fell into Pirates’ hands, only kept out by both Marr and the Swindon pipework. The home side eventually found their equaliser on the power play, Hewitt’s initial shot redirected in at the back post by Davies after 35 minutes, tying the scores at 3-3 for the end of the second period.
The visitors once again drew first blood after just 2 minutes of the third; Maxim Birbraer slotting the puck in after the Pirates had failed to clear the zone.
However, with Swindon seemingly controlling the play and the clock ticking down, a pass from Peter Fabus found the stick of Kevin Phillips who unleashed a wrist shot past a sprawling Marr to tie the game once more with 6 minutes left to play.
All thoughts of a comeback seemed to be dashed as twice in a minute the Wildcats skated through the Pirates players and found the back of the net. Aaron Nell the first after 54:33, followed 57 seconds later by Bribraer grabbing his second and the Wildcats’ sixth of the night.
As the third period drew to a close, the Pirates found themselves once more on the power play; and on the 58 minute mark Fabus unleashed a rocket of a shot which Davies deflected in at the back post. A mere 44 seconds later and Davies again slipped the puck past the Swindon goalie to level the scores at 6-6, bringing the arena to its feet.
With both sides seemingly running out of steam, regulation time ended and 3 on 3 overtime loomed. The Wildcats put pressure on Smith and the Pirates’ net until Davies broke out with the puck, danced through the Swindon players and slotted past Marr to seal a remarkable overtime win, 7-6.
(Written by Media Team Partner, Greig Cardwell)
Man Of The Match Awards:-
Swindon Wildcats – #30 Reny Marr
Hull Pirates – #26 Matt Davies