Video: Leeds Chiefs 3 Telford Tigers 2 (OT) - Chiefs open their home account in thrilling style
LEWIS HOUSTON slapped home an overtime winner to sink league leaders Telford Tigers 3-2 and hand Leeds Chiefs their first-ever win at their new Elland Road rink.
The 18-year-old has made a big impact since heading south from Scotland before the turn of the year, and developed a handy knack of scoring big goals for the Chiefs as they continue their bid to make a late push for the NIHL National playoffs.
In only his second appearance for the club, the former SOlway Sharks forward scored an overtime winner at Basingstoke Bison and, just three weeks ago, scored in a shootout as the Chiefs beat hosts Telford at Saint Quentin Gate.
And again, he was in the right place at exactly the right time to smash home a neat feed from Richard Bentham past a slightly unsighted Brad Day, writing himself into the history books once more, adding to his entry from last week when he became the first Chiefs’ player to score at the new venue, albeit in a losing cause against Sheffield Steeldogs.
It capped a spirited comeback from the Chiefs, who twice came from behind against Tom Watkins’s team, who had gone ahead at 8.17 on the power play when Dominik Florian was left with asimple finish off a feed from Adam Taylor.
It was no more than Telford deserved who had come close on a couple of occasions to breaking the deadlock previously, only to be denied by the pipework on both occasions.
But the Chiefs were again a good match for their far loftier opponents, creating numerous opportunities to keep Day busy in the Telford goal.
And the hosts got their rewards with just under two minutes of the second period remaining, Joe Coulter effectively playing a one-two with Patrik Valcak, who showed patience behind the net before finding Coulter eight yards out in front from where he fired home past Day for a power play marker.
There was again little to choose between the two teams in the middle period, the Chiefs coming closest towards the end when Caly Robertson was denied by a superb save by Day at the back post.
A scrambled effort just over two minutes into the third period saw Telford take the lead for a second time, Finley Howells deemed to have got the final touch to poke home past Sam Gospel.
But it didn’t take the Chiefs too long before they were back on level terms, defenceman Richard Bentham firing a rasping shot through traffic off a feed from Lewis Baldwin.
That was how it stayed, Gospel and Day both called upon to make crucial saves before regulation was up, the Chiefs gaining a crucial advantage when Florian was sent to the box on a slashing call just over two minutes into overtime, Houston making the 4-on-3 count with 85 seconds remaining on the clock.
At one point it looked as if Leeds wouldn’t make up any ground on playoff rivals Raiders IHC, the team currently sat in the eighth and final playoff as they entered the final minute at second-placed Swindon Wilcats 4-3 ahead.
But, with just 21 seconds on the clock, Tomasz Malasinski levelled for the hosts, who then grabbed the extra point in overtime through Tyler Vankleef.
It meant Raiders still picked up a point, with Leeds’ win meaning they closed the gap to 10 points with 15 games remaining.