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Ice hockey: Flintshire Freeze end season on victorious note

Flintshire Freeze 7 Lancashire Raptors 5

FREEZE enjoyed a winning end to their ENIHL North Two campaign on Sunday.

A crowd of 414 watched Flintshire play-out a thrilling end to an action-packed season in which they finished third in the table.

After six minutes, a flurry of activity around the Raptors net resulted in a David Swanston shot sneaking over the line for Freeze to get the first points on the board.

Peter Gazda was sin-binned after both sides created further chances and the Raptors made the most of the power-play opportunity to score their first goal with less than three minutes of the period left.

The second period started with Freeze peppering the opposition goal and they were rewarded when top scorer Chris Jones netted following an Andy Chappell assist.

Jones was then sent to the bin after a fracas but Freeze didn’t waste any time in extending their advantage as Gavin Austin and Bryn Roberts fed the puck to Gareth Roberts who scored a lovely switch-back goal.

Raptors hit back instantly, however, reducing their deficit once more and Freeze stopper Phil Crosby kept his side 3-2 in front with fine saves.

Yet with four minutes of the period remaining, Austin made the most of a Michael Jones pass to sidestep the Raptors defence for the sweetest of goals.

The visitors refused to lie down, though, and they made it 4-3 in the final stages of the second.

Within two minutes of the third period, the home side had regained their two-goal cushion when top scorer Chris Jones found the net.

Alex Parry was carried-off with a leg injury and Raptors took full advantage to bring the score back to 5-4 before drawing level.

With just over a minute on the clock, Raptors called a timeout to and, on the restart, cool-headed Freeze captain Marc Lovell shimmied up the ice to score an unassisted goal which knocked the wind out of the Raptors’ sails.

Following a Flintshire timeout with 32 seconds left on the clock, Raptors replaced their keeper with another outfield player and Freeze stopper Crosby had to be on his guard to keep them out.

And Freeze had the last laugh with 12 seconds to go when Chappell played-in Jones to roll his hat-trick into an empty net.