BRACKNELL Bees slumped to their eighth defeat in nine National Cup Group D games when losing 4-3 to Telford Tigers at the Hive on Saturday, writes Dave Wright.

But Bees battled hard right to the final buzzer and as skipper Matt Foord commented: “The game could have gone either way. They never outplayed us at all. It was a good end-to-end game, both sides had chances.

“On another night, it could easily have been a different result.”

The match started 50 minutes later than scheduled. The face-off was put back for 15 minutes after match officials had been delayed en route and just before play was due to start ridges were spotted on the outside of the ice which had to be flattened out by the Zamboni which had caused the problem in the first place.

Bees, who were missing five regulars with Harvey Stead the latest to join their casualty list, found themselves a goal down inside two minutes when Scott McKenzie fired home after net-minder Alex Mettam had blocked the initial shot.

Bees equalised in the seventh minute when Frankie Bakrlik was sent clear by Josh Martin. His first shot was saved, but the Czech followed up to score.

The hosts created a number of chances which either sailed wide or were stopped by Denis Bell before McKenzie restored the visitors’ lead with just over 14 minutes gone.

Bees ended the first period and started the next with Bakrlik and Ben Ealey-Newman both in the sin-bin.

But they survived the power-play well and the same two players were not far away from levelling the scores.

Bees were pressing hard and Bakrlik was charged down behind the goal and was still lying on the ice when Tigers launched a swiftly-executed counter-attack which led to captain Jason Silverthorn making it 3-1 in the 34th minute.

For a time, tempers became a little frayed with both sides picking up penalties and on occasions referee Paul Brooks appeared to be struggling to keep control of the game.

McKenzie completed his hat-trick just before the 36th-minute mark, but just 47 seconds later Bees made it 4-2 thanks to Alex Barker’s goal.

After Carl Thompson had struck the crossbar early in the final period, the hosts reduced their deficit to just one thanks to a 15-yard screamer from Bakrlik, his seventh cup goal and 27th overall.

He nearly grabbed the equaliser, although it needed a couple of smart stops by Alex Mettam to prevent the Tigers increasing their lead.

With Mettam having been withdrawn, Bees made a last-ditch effort to level the scores, only for Bakrlik to be controversially sent to the sin-bin with just three seconds of the game remaining, prompting some fans to boo Brooks as he left the ice.

In all, Bees had 27 goal attempts, three fewer than the Tigers.

Carl Thompson was voted Bees’ man of the match on his first home appearance since rejoining the club as cover for his injured brother, Shaun.

Foord concluded: “It was a good game, we battled hard, and were a bit unlucky.”

The return fixture at Telford on Sunday was called off due to the bad weather.

There is no game at the Hive this weekend, but Bees visit Streatham in the league on Saturday (5.30pm) seeking revenge for the 5-3 defeat they suffered there earlier this month.