Ice Hockey: Bombers on target at last

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AFTER 10 years and 44 visits Billingham Bombers finally won a Heineken Premier Division game at Durham Wasps, their second victory of the weekend seeing them move from the foot of the table.

It started to go right for Bombers against Bracknell Bees. Stephen V Johnson opened the scoring after a minute and, in spite of Bees' comeback in the second period, the same player scored three more to make it 8-6 to Bombers.

The next day, Billingham scorched to a 5-1 lead at Wasps thanks to three goals in 85 seconds. Rick Brebant and Robert Wilkinson cut the deficit to 5-3, but Bombers held firm with two goals from Richard Laplante and another from Mark Pallister to counter one from Damian Smith for an 8-4 win.

It was also a good weekend for Nottingham Panthers under their new coach, Kevin Murphy. They combined hard work with skill to beat the league leaders, Cardiff Devils, 6-5. In fairness, Devils were without Hilton Ruggles, their suspended import and leading scorer, but Selmar Odelein's game-winning goal 12 seconds from time saw Panthers move from ninth to seventh in the table.

Ruggles was back the following night against Whitley Warriors, scoring four in a 19-6 win. Devils were so confident that, when leading 15-2, they lifted goal-minder Jason Wood and put on the 19- year-old Sean Ward. He conceded four goals from seven shots, but gained valuable experience.

There were no upsets in the First Division. Basingstoke Beavers remain top, but Sheffield Steelers stole into second place by beating Milton Keynes Kings 11-7. Kings held their own until Steve Nemeth nudged Sheffield ahead 7-6 at the end of the second period. They went on to win the final period 4-1 to climb above Kings.

Results, Sport in Short, page 29