The Dayshift Recruitment Bristol Pitbulls maintained their strong start to the season after a hard fought 6-3 home win over the Invicta Mustangs.
As a result, Bristol now sit third in the table after four games, with their only loss coming against the unbeaten Oxford City Stars. However, Pitbulls were made to work harder for their win than Invicta’s 14th place in the table would imply.
Mustangs started the game strongly. Crowding the puck, forcing turnovers and quick on the break, they opened the scoring just three minutes in through captain, and Man of the Match, Bradley Gutridge. Any control that Bristol took, they continued to find difficult to sustain thanks to that puck pressure by Invicta.
Olly Shone tied the game after 10 minutes, but Mustangs re-took the lead less than two minutes later through Jospeh Bliss in what was almost a carbon copy of the first goal. Pressure forcing the turnover and a quick break behind the Bristol defence to give a free shot on Ross Miller in net.
Janne Virtanen scored his first goal of the season to tie the game at the first break. And with shots on goal at 17 apiece, this period had been very finely balanced.
That was far less true of the second period with Bristol enjoying a 25-6 superiority on the shot count. Yet, Matthew Passmore in the Invicta net made sure Bristol’s domination, particularly in the second half of the period, didn’t take his team out of the game. Jamie Newton gave Bristol their first lead of the game after 25 minutes. But, Anthony Baskerville tied the game just three minutes later as Mustangs refused to let the game go away from them.
It would take a powerplay goal by Steve Osman in the 39th minute before Bristol finally got their first lead of the game.
Strangely, despite the third period seeing the shot count equally split again, Bristol finally managed to take control of the game. Even then, it would take the game’s dying minutes to put it to bed.
Jack Hayes got not only his first ever goal for Bristol, but his first ever goal in a senior game, with five minutes left. A minute later, Bristol’s Man of the Match, Steve Osman, scored his second of the game and Pitbulls finally looked good for the win.
There was a late nervous moment, though, as Josh Dolphin and Sam Shone both took minor penalties at the same time giving Invicta a late opportunity with a double powerplay. But, Bristol survived the late scare to hold on for both points.