The Dayshift Recruitment Bristol Pitbulls have kicked off their 2018-19 season with a first ever win in the Alexandra Palace, beating the Haringey Huskies 4-3.
The game also marked the first time since 2012 where the Pitbulls have returned from a summer break without losing their first game.
With no sign of bus legs, Bristol dominated the first period. Jamie Newton opened the scoring just 24 seconds in, the fastest ever goal to start a new season by Bristol, immediately putting them into the driving seat.
The first line of Newton, Osman and Chilcott looked particularly strong and doubled Bristol’s lead after eight minutes. Chilcott this time the scorer with his first ever for the club. But, it wasn’t all about the new look first line. All three lines looked strong throughout, with Olly Shone in particular getting multiple chances.
However, those two goals were all that Bristol had to show for that first period dominance. That was largely down to a strong performance in the Haringey net by David Wride, showing exactly why Haringey signed him after he’d spent several years in the higher league.
Having shown that they couldn’t cope with Bristol’s speed, Haringey slowed the game down for the second period, turning it into more of a grinding game. It certainly brought them back into the game as Bristol lost some of the shape and fluidity that had made them so successful in the first period.
That success was reflected on the scoreboard, too. Two goals in the space of 41 seconds late in the period suddenly tied the game up and gave Huskies a confidence that had been lacking earlier in the game.
Haringey tried to continue that strategy in the third period but with much less success. Certainly Bristol didn’t have the domination of the third period, but they were once again getting long periods of complete control where Haringey struggled to cope with Bristol’s speed.
Osman got his first goal since returning to the club over the summer five minutes after the restart before Newton got his second of the night, on the powerplay, with seven minutes left to play.
That two goal lead should have given Bristol confidence to close the game out. However, Haringey’s Woodford reduced the gap to a single goal with just under four minutes left to give his team a chance of at least forcing overtime.
Bristol held on, though, managing to maintain enough pressure to prevent the home side from pulling Wride in favour of an extra skater.
Bristol next face Stars in the “Oxford Derby” this Sunday, keen to build on the momentum and stay in the driving seat for a playoff spot.