Devils fail to capitalise on fine start

Richard Brown, pictured, set up George Norcliffe for the crucial leveller. Picture: Reece Gough
Richard Brown, pictured, set up George Norcliffe for the crucial leveller. Picture: Reece Gough
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Solent Devils let slip a three-goal lead as they were held to a 6-6 draw by Milton Keynes Thunder in National League south division one on Sunday night.

It was the Gosport Ice Arena outfit’s ninth tied game of the season.

And the result left Alex Murray’s side in seventh spot in the table – four points adrift of Thunder but still with four games in hand.

The Devils had beaten their hosts 7-3 the previous weekend.

But with the Milton Keynes outfit back to full strength, they posed more of a threat on home ice.

The contest started promisingly for the Devils, though.

Alex Cole and Richard Facey set up Andrew Magee to open the scoring before two minutes of the game had even been played.

And shortly afterwards, with both teams battling for supremacy, Magee and player-coach Alex Murray helped Facey double the advantage.

Less than a minute later, Facey and Magee were running the hosts ragged again – this time teeing up Mitchell Murray to make it 3-0.

The third goal clearly woke Thunder up and within seconds of the restart, Ross Bowers pulled a goal back.

Five minutes later they reduced the deficit further when Luc Johnson found Glenn Billing to fire home.

The only penalty of the first period saw the home side’s Nidal Phillips sit out two minutes for tripping.

However, Thunder managed to kill the power play off and seconds before the break they levelled through their captain Jamie Line.

The home side’s momentum continued in the second period when James Clarke fired them in front for the first time.

The Devils failed to make the most of a power play as Mboya was sent to the bin for hooking.

But within seconds of his return, they managed to find an equalising goal.

Magee and Alex Murray combined for Mitchell Murray to net his second goal of the game.

Parity did not last long, though. As Steve Gosset was sent to the penalty box for tripping, Thunder regained the lead through Bowers.

The game was now being played at a frantic pace and the Milton Keynes side extended their lead when Mboya fed Billing to make it 6-4.

But the Devils refused to give up.

Facey and Mitchell Murray linked up to help Magee make it 6-5.

And just two minutes later, Ralfs Circenis picked out Richard Brown, who in turn fed George Norcliffe to score his 17th goal of the season and level the scores at 6-6.

After such a free-scoring opening to the game, neither side found the net in the third period.

The Devils had one ruled out before surviving the last 14 seconds without Mason Wild after he was found guilty of tripping.