A Christmas Miracle….nearly!
Sunday 9th December 2018
Sutton U20s 4
Nottingham U20s 3
A host of fixture clashes resulted in a very young Nottingham U20s side travelling to high-flying Sutton, whose roster featured a glut of players already making a name for themselves in NIHL1.
With just three regular U20s available to skate, a Nottingham squad of 14 players and 2 goalies was put together at a very late stage. Five of Nottingham’s Division 3 U18s players stepped up, with nearly all of them having no U20s experience (Mac Stevenson, Joel Catley, James Kimber, Madison Wright, Renata Mudrakova). They were not, however, there to just make up the numbers!
Stand-in coach Steve Kimber asked for a big performance from this team and that is exactly what he got. A very close score line deservedly went in favour of Sutton by the end, but the game winning goal arrived only in the final few minutes, just as a Sutton power play ticked out.
Harry Hopkins gave a Captain’s performance with his hat-trick to keep a heavily pressured Nottingham always in the game. One of those goals was assisted on a breakaway by James Kimber of the 18Bs (aged 15), his first point at this age level; another was by Ryan Winters.
A mature and disciplined display from the Captain, Owen Davies and Ryan Winters showed the way for the younger members of the team and provided welcome encouragement.
Line 2, comprising mostly first year 18As (Toby Fisher, Leo Harris and Cole Arnold) supplied solid protection and outlets to Nottingham’s plucky defence all night long.
When Nottingham’s Declan Orange was ejected from the game for spearing at the end of P1, it left just 4 Defenseman, two of whom were 16-year old young ladies from the 18Bs in their first ever U20s game. (Renata Mudrakova and Madison Wright).
Huge respect must go to these two girls who played the entire game in D, facing down opposition with significant NIHL1 experience and who gave such a confident performance from the outset that Coach Kimber regularly shifted them together.
The more experienced D-men of Tom Dermott and Bradley Fothergill produced their own outstanding performances and were a constant source of support to their U20s rookies.
On any normal day, a hat-trick would have comfortably earned Man of the Match. However, that honour could only go to Massimo Agostini, posting a 92% save level on 50 shots and undoubtedly the rock on which Nottingham’s young defence had relied.
There were no points gained from the game, but an inexperienced side making such a match of things against high quality opposition will go down as one of the Club’s gutsiest performances of the season.
Scoring: P1 (1-0); P2(1-2); P3(2-1)
Nottingham points: Hopkins 3+0, Winters (0+1), Kimber (0+1)
SOG: Sutton 50 ; Nottingham 12
PIM: Sutton 29 ; Nottingham 35
Netminding: Massimo Agostini (Nottingham): SVS% 92.0