8 December 2017
There’s been a fair bit happening over the past week in The Wilkinson. Most notably, following on from Chelmsford Chieftains home defeat by league leaders Oxford City Stars, the Essex based team announced on their social media on Wednesday night that they would be releasing Slovak forward Filip Supa. Having played in all eight of Chieftains games this season, Supa had amassed 15 goals and five assists and, averaging 2½ points per game, was the team’s most productive player. Last Sunday, Oxford managed to keep him at bay, but we feel that speaks volumes about how good Stars’ were at sticking to their game plan. Thursday morning, Chieftains then announced the signing of Supa’s replacement in the form of veteran Slovakian forward Michal Oravec. The 37 year old shooter has played in NIHL S1 for the last five seasons and had iced for Streatham, Invicta Dynamos, London Raiders, and had a spell with Bracknell Hornets last season. In his time in NIHL he’s racked up 158 points in 134 league games, as well as a further 39 points in playoff and cup games. Chieftains head coach, Ben Clements, said in the team’s statements: “Decisions like this are never easy to make especially during the season but it is something that I felt I needed to do to help get the team back on track and will now allow me to add to the team in other areas and ensure we carry on in the right direction as a club. Supa is a great professional and I’m sure he will have no problem finding a new team. I would like to thank him for his time and efforts with us and wish him all the best for the future. Oravec is a big signing for us, he will add his experience to the team which is something I think we have lacked at times. He will be playing an offensive role to help us climb the table and close the gap at the top. Speaking to him about the season ahead he is committed to the team goals and I believe he is a great addition to our squad.”
On the South Coast, Solent Devils have also been strengthening their squad, announcing on Friday night the return of fan favourite Jamie Fitzpatrick. The 27 year old defender, who hasn’t iced since the 15/16 season, has spent his whole career at Solent, playing in a dozen seasons during which he’s amassed 31 goals and 100 assists in 300 games played over that twelve years.
On to this weekend now, and in the WPL there’s a pair of games while in The Wilkinson, there’s five of them to look at. Firstly, on Saturday, Invicta take on Solent Devils at Gillingham. I think it’s fair to say that Mustangs are struggling this season, having won just 3 games in 13, having needed overtime to finish the job against Lee Valley Lions last month. Solent, in contrast, are flying high in 3rd place having lost just two of their ten. It’s Devil’s last game before the Christmas break and they’ll be wanting to finish the year on a high. Depending on other results on Saturday, they could be ending the weekend in second place. Secondly, on Saturday, Chieftains take their new import for a trip to Peterborough as they face the Phantoms. Phantoms have had a tough time in recent games, having been shut out by Solent and Oxford in consecutive games, and needing overtime to take the extra point in a thrilling 8-7 win at home to Basingstoke Buffalo last weekend. Phantoms remain in second place with a game in hand of Oxford, however they are six points adrift so winning this game will level them up on games with the league leaders but won’t improve their position. Indeed, if Chieftains take the win and Solent beat Invicta, Phantoms will slip down to third. Looking at Chieftains, they will surely be smarting from last weekend having been outplayed by Oxford at Riverside last weekend, a result which triggered the team switching their import. Although behind the leading pack in points, they’re also lagging massively behind in games played too. Winning their five games in hand of Oxford would put them back in contention, leaving them just two points adrift. But Phantoms have their own agenda, having lost a lot of ground in the table over recent weeks. A win for Phantoms narrows the gap at the top, while if Chieftains take the points, they could start their climb up the table if Haringey Huskies lose in regulation at Slough. Finally, on Saturday, Haringey Huskies travel to Berkshire to take on Slough Jets. Huskies are 4-2-0 away from home, having lost only to Bracknell and Guildford on the road. Jets are 4-3-0 at home, but two of those home wins they have been forced into overtime. With four league places between them, in Haringey’s favour, we think this is going to be a thrilling encounter. A win for Haringey would see them level on points with Bracknell, although Hornets will have the tie break between the two so Huskies won’t gain any position advantage. A Jets win would see them leapfrog Basingstoke, overnight at least.
Sunday sees two games in S2, firstly in Hampshire, Basingstoke Buffalo welcome Bristol Pitbulls. With just two points separating them in the league, this does look to be an interesting fixture. Pitbulls have two games in hand over Buffalo, but the also have the psychological advantage of having been the only other team to take down Chelmsford Chieftains this season. These two teams have a long history with 25 games between them going back to 2009. Overall, Bristol have the bragging rights with 13-8-4 in all games, while Basingstoke are 4-5-4 at home against Bristol. A win for either team could see them move up the table, but that’s all dependant on Saturday’s results. The other game on Sunday is in Essex as Chieftains look to give their fans something to cheer about after the disappointment of defeat last weekend. Lee Valley Lions are the visitors this time, and they will be looking to cause a major upset in the league. Lions are still winless so far, but have been improving of late having taken points from overtime losses in two consecutive weekends. Having pushed Cardiff and Invicta to an extra period, the confidence will be building and they’ll be hoping to finally get something in the ‘W’ column. Chieftains, having played Saturday night, should be game fit and, as long as they don’t see this game as an easy two points, should be able to dispatch Lions. But you can be sure that Lee Valley won’t be going down without a fight. In WPL action, 2nd placed Swindon Topcats travel North to take on Kingston Diamonds. One of two teams left in the league to still have a 100% record, Topcats will no doubt fancy their chances on the road. Diamonds, while sitting right in the middle of the table, look to have improved on this point last season, they’ve still only played three games and have only won one of them. A win for Kingston won’t have any impact on league position, while if Swindon win it’ll put them level on points with Chelmsford Cobras, but they’ll have to win by 14 or more goals to take the lead from Cobras. In the return leg of last weekends game in Cheshire, MK Falcons welcome Widnes Ladies. Falcons took the win 6-4 at Widnes last week, and massively outshot the home side 52-27. With Falcons Kaya Moore receiving a 5+GAME penalty for a check to the head in the dying seconds of last weeks game, there could well be some bad blood between the two teams in this one.
We did pretty well on last weekend’s predictions, although the teams we thought would win big make quite hard work of it. We did say last week that Chieftains would struggle against Oxford, we got that bit right but we did expect them to take a win from the game. This week, we think it’s going to be even harder to predict, with teams involved so close to each other in regards to league position. However, we’ll have a go. Invicta, we think, will have a good crack at Solent, but even so they just don’t have the firepower to stop the bigger teams. And with Devils having won their last four, including a 6-0 thumping of Peterborough, we expect a Solent win. In Peterborough, both teams have a point to prove here, Phantoms struggling of late having been shut out twice and taken to overtime by Basingstoke last weekend. Chieftains will be wanting a quick rebound after last Sunday’s game at Riverside. And with new signing Michal Oravec, there’s a hint of the unknown about the side. As Chieftains fans, we want to say a Chieftains win here, but it’s certainly not going to come easy and, as an objective unbiased hockey-fan-in-general, we wouldn’t be surprised if Phantoms take it. Yes, for this one, we’re going to sit on the fence - and no doubt the pointy end of it too. In Berkshire, we predict another close one but Haringey have looked the better team so far so we’re going for a Huskies win. On to Sunday’s games, and in the WPL we really don’t expect any surprises here. Topcats are 100%, Diamonds have won 1 out of their three and while they only won one game last season, they’re still not performing that great. Easy win for Swindon. And a winless Widnes travelling to MK, we expect a repeat of last weekend’s result here, another two points for the Falcons. Although Widnes’ 6th position ahead of Fire Bees should be safe unless MK win by 19 or more. In NIHL, Basingstoke and Bristol should be a spectacle of a game on paper, and probably a close one at that. Historically, Pitbulls have the edge overall, and Basingstoke are 4-5-4 at home. And with them being so close in the league, it’s another one that’s a tough one to predict. But we’re going to keep with tradition and say a win for Bristol. And, in our last game of the weekend, at Riverside Chieftains shouldn’t have as tough a time as they did last weekend. Lee Valley will push them, but we don’t think they’ll have enough to take this one to overtime. A win for Chieftains here, probably not an easy win but a comfortable one.
As always, we’ll be at Riverside on Sunday with updates of the action as it happens on twitter. Give us a follow at HERE
4 December 2017
What a weekend of hockey that was. While last weekend didn’t really give us any surprises, this weekend certainly did. Saturday night, the only thing that happened that we expected to happen was for Guildford Phoenix to win comfortably at Invicta Mustangs. Guildford dominated the game with Bailey Wooton and Josh Abbott getting a pair of goals each, and Jonah Stoodley and Luke Tull both getting one each, while Mustangs Anthony Baskerville and Brad Gutridge got a pair of consolation goals as Phoenix took the points in a 6-2 road win.
At Lee Valley, the Lions looked to improve on last week's OT defeat in Gillingham but were only able to match it. Lions goals came from Nick Alley, Matt Brown, with a pair each. While Lewis Smith got two, Captain Ross Wilkinson, and Joe Morris got the regulation goals for Cardiff, Elliott Murdoch the hero for Fire bagging the winning goal in the third minute of overtime, 4-5 the final score.
In Berkshire, Slough and Swindon went at it, Swindon getting their first point of the campaign as this game also went to overtime, Jets coming from 3-1 behind. For Slough, Adam Coakley, Nathan Chilcott, Chris Leykam, and Deakan Fielder grabbed the goals, while for Slough it was Nathan Darmanin with a pair, Timo Lindgren and Luke Reynolds with the regulation goals, and Jamie Chandler with the golden goal just 1:18 into the extra period. Despite the EIHA recently promising to get tough on checking to the head, Swindon’s Jack Clements was ejected from the game for that very offence.
Sunday saw four games across NIHL S2 and WPL. Starting in Bracknell in the WPL, the Fire Bees faced Chelmsford Cobras. Having gone down 12-2 in their previous encounter, the home side looked to improve on that. However, Cobras dominated, and rubber stamped their intention win some silverware this season. A pair of goals each from Jen Bolton and Abbie Sylvester to add to a single effort by Tereza Plankova saw Cobras take the points, Fire Bees only able to grab a single consolation goal thanks to Carly Lilwall.
In the North West, Widnes Ladies remain winless after going down 6-4 against MK Falcons. A hat trick by Rachel Piotrowski to add to a brace by Monica Petrosino and a single tally for Aiyana Moran for MK, Widnes’ goals coming from Lucy Kirkham, Katie Hills, and Amanda Williams with a pair. Widnes are second from bottom on goal difference, Fire Bees with the dubious honour of propping up the rest of the league.
In NIHL S2, Peterborough Phantoms welcomed Basingstoke Buffalo in what turned out to be a thriller. Goals for the home side came courtesy of Clint Herring, Conor Pollard, Connor Stokes, Bradley Moore(2), and James Pentecost(2), while for Buffalo Blair Dubyk grabbed a hat trick to add to goals from Marcus Russell, Cameron Buckle, Warren Jones, and Daniel Lackey to give a final score after 60 minutes of 7-7. A further 5 minutes of 3 on 3 couldn’t separate the teams so it was down to the pot luck of penalty shots to decide the winner. Gregory Martyn scored for Basingstoke, but Moore and Yardley handed the extra point to Peterborough.
At Riverside, a tough game against Oxford City Stars was billed and that’s exactly what Chieftains got. Goals from Josh Florey, Andy Cox, Matt Lawday and Dom Hopkins and a shutout for Milan Ronai gave Oxford a big win, their first at Riverside, extending their winning streak to 10 games and cementing their place at the top of The Wilkinson league. Chieftains mischief maker Cameron Bartlett was awarded a 10 minute misconduct penalty after the final buzzer for abuse of official - presumably he told Referee Adams what he thought of his whistle.
As far as our predictions went, with the exception of Chieftains, all the teams we predicted would win did win - although the ones we expected to win big made very hard work of it.
Chieftains V Oxford City Stars Match Report
Sunday night at Riverside and Chieftains faced their toughest test of the season so far as they welcomed league leaders Oxford City Stars. Having lost just one game in twelve, and on a nine game winning streak, Stars are currently favourites to lift the league title. Chieftains plan was to stop them in their tracks and start climbing the league themselves. But with a team that is largely unchanged from last seasons Division 1 squad, it was going to be a test of Chieftains character and nerve.
The puck dropped on the game and after just a minute of play Chieftains were on the back foot as Rob Veares was called for hooking, sending Oxford on an early power play. Stars set up in the Chieftains zone, but the home side killed the penalty largely thanks to some stellar goaltending by Sonny Phillips. Oxford appeared to have a game plan, and that was to keep Chieftains from having any time on the puck. And they were sticking to it religiously, allowing Chiefs barely any possession in the opening stages of the match. And it took just 7:14 for it to pay off, Matt Lawday finishing from a nice pass by Josh Florey. Just over a minute later, the puck was in the net again, this time big Dom Hopkins taking a pass on the blue line and skating between the face off circles and wristing a shot just under Phillips’ glove. There was relief for the home side and their fans, however, as referee Richard Adams washed out the goal, the score remaining 1-0 in favour of the visitors. Things weren’t looking good for Chieftains as they started to finish their checks and hit hard, Cameron Bartlett slamming Connor Redmond into the boards and narrowly avoiding penalty time before Anthony Leone skated half way across the width of the ice to finish his check - he didn’t escape the wrath of Mr Adams for that, charging the call. Stars’ second power play not as effective as the first, Chieftains getting the better of the chances shorthanded as, first, Filip Supa skipped between a pair of Oxford defenders to get a breakaway, only to be robbed by Milan Ronai, the Ross Brears skated at speed down the right wing. Chased all the way by a band of Oxford players, he did a 360° spinorama in the face off circle to the left of Ronai, skated into the slot and fired - his shot also saved by the big Hungarian stopper. Although Chieftains managed to apply some pressure to the Stars in the closing minutes of the period, they were unable to capitalise and the period ended with Stars leading 1-0 on the scoreboard and 17-5 in shots on goal.
Period 2 began more sprightly for Chieftains as just a minute in, Cameron Bartlett beat Ronai but his shot came off the top of the crossbar to safety. Moments later, Bartlett, in on goal again, faked a shot to the left of Ronai, then skated to his right forcing him to display his ability to do the splits to make the save. Almost immediately a big gap in the Chieftains defence allowed Oxford to counter attack, Redmond having his attempt on goal guided behind the net where Josh Oliver collected it, skated it round the front and shot low to Phillips’ right side, 2-0 Stars. A minute later, things got desperate for Chieftains as Andrew Cox had a punt and floated a shot in from the blue line which appeared to hit Rob Veares taking a massive change in direction that Sonny Phillips could do nothing about. 3-0 Stars. Oxford took their first penalty of the game just under 27 minutes in, Josh Florey going to the box for high sticks, and giving Chieftains an opportunity to get back into the game. Oxford’s game plan was still keeping Chieftains from getting set up, however, and Oxford cleared the puck over and over. Kamil Kinkor came close to adding to Chieftains woes as he stole the puck of Phillips, who’d gone behind the net to play it, and was only prevented from scoring by some quick thinking poke checks from the Chiefs defence. Phillips redeemed his slip up almost immediately, however, as he made a spectacular diving save on a Michael Whillock shot. A second high sticks penalty for Oxford, this time on Josh Oliver, also came to nothing thanks again to Stars’ game plan. Chieftains did manage to string together some passes to get Leone on goal, only for him to shoot straight into Ronai’s glove. Bartlett managed to let a rocket go from the faceoff circle that Ronai saved but gave up a massive rebound that bounced around the crease that no Chieftains player could get a stick on, Ronai eventually covering for the face off. Just before the break Leone had another chance, firing on Ronai point blank but once again Ronai stonewalled him. Cameron Bartlett then took a golf swing at an Oxford player’s stick, breaking it clean in half and getting himself a 2 minute slashing penalty for his trouble, the period subsequently ending 3-0 in favour of Oxford. A more even period, statistically at least, as the teams had 11 shots on goal each.
The third period came around quickly, and Chieftains needed the biggest third period they’ve ever had. However, the third started as the first did, Oxford not letting Chieftains have any time on the puck. With seven minutes of the period gone, Chieftains had had just two chances, with Ronai equal to both. Then, during a spell of pressure during which Chieftains were cycling the puck well around the Oxford zone, the Stars took possession and countered en masse and descended mob handed on Phillips goal, the Chieftains stopper sprawling across his crease to keep multiple shots out. Dom Hopkins, desperate to get the goal that was owed to him from the first period, fired from the point, the shot hitting Veares stick and deflecting on goal - this time going straight into Phillips’ glove. Just over half way into the period, Bartlett was once again in the penalty box for another slashing call. This time Chieftains weren’t so lucky as Hopkins finally got his reward ripping a laser guided rocket from the top of the slot, making Chieftains pay on the man advantage. Chieftains made an attempt to fight back, Leone having a punt from centre ice forcing Ronai to make a save then has to react quickly to cover the rebound. From the face off, Joe Edwards went coast to coast at speed, a well timed poke check from Phillips’ stick stopping his charge in it’s tracks and sending Edwards sliding past Phillips and left him sat in the net. With the game all but won, Ronai also robbed Brears, who fired point blank, and Ayling who’d made an impressive move down the left wing. In the end, the final buzzer couldn’t come soon enough for Chieftains as Oxford not only got their first ever win at Riverside, but managed to shut out Chieftains on their home ice, and extending their winning streak to 10.
MoM awards going to Milan Ronai of Oxford for his 25 shot shut out, and Danny Wright for Chieftains.
Chieftains have a two game week next weekend as they head to The Fens to take on Peterborough Phantoms on Saturday, face off at 5:30pm, then on Sunday they welcome Lee Valley Lions to Riverside, face off 6:30pm.
Photos from the game are HERE
1 December 2017
Last weekend didn’t throw up much in the way of surprises, particularly in terms of which teams won - there can’t have been that many surprises for us to get 100% in our predictions. What did surprise a few, including us, was some of the score lines. Guildford, thus far, have been dark horses of NIHL S2 and, in all honesty, we expected them to put up more of a fight at Riverside against Chelmsford. But Chieftains were, for the most part, clinical in their dissection of the Surrey team. And in the top of the table clash in Oxford, we expected it to be a much closer affair than a 7-0 shutout for the home team.
This weekend may well be a similar affair, with a total of five games, all of which on paper look predictable but all of which could throw up a surprise or two. So let’s look at what’s to come. Three games on Saturday, starting in Kent where the Mustangs host Guildford Phoenix. Mustangs took the points in Gillingham last week against Lee Valley, but they needed overtime to do it, Lions taking their first point of the season. This could work both ways for Mustangs, a confidence boost for the win, but they’ll surely be disappointed they couldn’t get the job done in regulation against the then bottom team. Phoenix will also have some disappointment to avenge after Sunday’s loss in Chelmsford, conceding three early goals having sealed their fate. It was Guildford’s fifth loss in twelve outings, one of which was the OT loss in Oxford a couple of weeks ago. Not a bad record for a team in their inaugural season, and one which leaves them in 5th position in the league, while Mustangs are hanging around in 11th. In Lee Valley, the Lions take on Cardiff Fire. Lions are yet to achieve a result better than an overtime loss this season and have a goal difference of a whopping -63. While Cardiff have a 50% average, having won four and lost four. Hovering precariously in mid table, Fire are in 8th place with four points less than Chieftains a place above them who also have a game in hand. However, Cardiff’s recent form is far better than Lee Valley’s having won two of their last three. Finally for Saturday, Slough welcome Swindon to the Mini Hangar. Jets will be smarting after losing big to their local rivals Bracknell Hornets last weekend, registering 25 shots on James Richardson and only managing to get three past him, while Chris Douglas at the other end saved 39 of Hornets 48 shots. The result saw them drop down to twelfth place, although their opponents, while sitting dead last with zero points, are only two places below them. The ‘Cats are seemingly having as hard a time scoring goals as they are stopping them, having the lowest goals for tally in the league with just 25.
Sunday brings us two games in NIHL and two in the WPL. Starting with the ladies, Widnes Ladies welcome MK Falcons to Cheshire. Winless in their two outings so far, it’s a double header for these teams as they meet again in MK next weekend. This will be their third successive home game this season and will be wanting to break the duck. MK Falcons are sitting in third spot in the WPL with a 50% average, taking wins against Bracknell Fire Bees and Kingston Diamonds, but losing out in two games against Swindon Topcats. At The Hive, the Fire Bees take on league leaders Chelmsford Cobras in the return leg of their game a few weeks ago, which Cobras won convincingly 12-2, a game in which Jen Bolton got the first of her three hat tricks this season, as did new signing Ellie Wakeling. Fire Bees, in comparison, are sitting on the bottom of the table having yet to get a point. In The Wilkinson, last weekend's defeat at the hands of Oxford saw Peterborough Phantoms plummet to 4th place following wins by Bracknell and Solent. But after that heavy loss they’ll be looking to get back to winning ways at the expense of Basingstoke Buffalo, who haven’t played since their loss on home ice to Cardiff in mid November. While there’s a difference of 9 places between them, Phantoms have failed to score in their last two outings so they will be in desperate need of a confidence boost and they may well take it out on Buffalo who tend to have a short bench at away games. Finally, at Riverside, in our featured game this weekend, Chieftains welcome league leaders Oxford City Stars. It’s been a while since the top of the league team playing at Riverside wasn’t the home team. But, this year the league is different. It may be said, however, that the only reason Chieftains aren’t top of the league now is because they’ve played so few games. And there may be some truth to that. Chieftains have played 5 games less than Oxford, both teams have lost just one game. Since dropping down to NIHL S2, it’s fair to say Chieftains have lost a lot of firepower from their lines. That’s not to say the current line up isn’t capable of the task at hand. It was no doubt a shock losing to Bristol three weeks ago, one which the team rebounded from in the style of true champions, ending the 100% record of Bracknell. But Oxford have managed to retain a lot of last season’s NIHL S1 talent, particularly in the form of Kamil Kinkor, Joe Edwards, Dax Hedges, Josh and Jake Oliver, big Dom Hopkins, and, crucially, former Chieftains fan favourite Alex Staples. And with a pair of more than capable goalies in Mark Duffy and Milan Ronai for Kenny Redmond to choose from, this is going to be a test for Ben Clements and his Chieftains. Stars haven’t lost a game since their trip to Bracknell back in mid September, so form this season is most definitely on their side. Historically, however, things are a little more favourable for Chieftains. The teams have met 12 times since 2014 with Chieftains winning 9 of the clashes. Oxford’s last win against Chiefs being just over two years ago at Oxpens Road, they’ve never won at Riverside, although they have managed to hold Chieftains to a draw twice. We caught up with Chieftains head coach Ben Clements to ask him his thoughts on Sunday's game. He told us: "I'm really looking forward to the game this weekend, it should be a good test for the team. And with Oxford being one of the teams to beat this season, I know the guys are up for the challenge. Looking at their team, they haven’t changed much from last season other than adding few new guys, one being Alex Staples which is a great pick up in my eyes and I’m sure our fans will give him a warm welcome on Sunday. I believe if we play like we did against Guildford, especially in the first period, then we will cause them problems. But we must play for the full 60 minutes as Oxford have never been a team to give up and, over the years, this fixture has always been a close one." While not actually saying so, reading between the lines we'd think that Coach Clemma was quietly confident.
We think that the majority of the games this weekend will be a tad predictable, although there is the potential for a couple of surprises. On Saturday, Invicta v Guildford should, on paper, be an easy win for Guildford, but we didn’t expect Mustangs to struggle so much against Lee Valley last weekend. Even so, we’re going for a Guildford win here. Lee Valley v Cardiff, we don’t really expect any surprises here. While Lions may have had a confidence boost getting a point last weekend, we think Cardiff will roll out easy winners here. And Slough v Swindon, although there’s not much difference in league position, ‘Cat’s inability to score and save will hand the Jets a win, although we don’t think they’ll give up without a fight. On Sunday, in the WPL, we think Widnes are going to struggle against Falcons, giving the Buckinghamshire side their third win of the season to take back to the concrete cows. And in Bracknell, Cobras are on fire being 4-0-0 in the league and having conceded just two goals this season, shutting out Nottingham Vipers twice and Kingston Diamonds. We expect a win for the Chelmsford ladies here. In NIHL S2, Peterborough are desperate to get back to winning ways after being shutout in consecutive games against last season’s Division 1 teams and we expect them to do so against Buffalo, possibly in a big way. And, finally, at Riverside, we think that Chieftains may well struggle against Oxford. But, with history on their side, if the bigger names in Chieftains side turn up to play, they should edge the Stars.
We'll be at Riverside on Sunday for all the action in the Chieftains v Stars game, live updates as the action unfolds on our twitter, follow us by clicking HERE
27 November 2017
Another exciting weekend of NIHL S2 action has come to a conclusion, with not much in the way of surprises being thrown up, the main surprises being the scorelines more than the results. Indeed, if you look at our predictions against the results, we hit 100% this week.
On Saturday, at Invicta, Lee Valley Lions finally managed to get some league points, lifting themselves off the bottom spot of the table. They went down fighting after scoring a late equaliser to send the game to overtime, Mustangs getting the golden goal to win the game 4-3. A seemingly easy 2 points for newcomers Guildford Phoenix in Surrey as they took on Cardiff Fire, winning by an 8-4 margin. At Alley Pally, Chelmsford Chieftains carried on where they left off, beating Haringey Huskies 7-3 on home ice, Filip Supa the hero for Chieftains as he bagged four goals. And in the Berkshire derby, Bracknell Hornets took the bragging rights as they rompted to a 9-3 victory, Josh Ealey-Newman claiming himself a hat trick.
Sunday night was much of the same. Lee Valley hoped to build on their point at Invicta the previous night, but it was back to normal service for them as they went down 11-1 at home to Bristol Pitbulls Olly Shone with a four goal night for Pitbulls. At Oxpens Road, the much anticipated 1st v 2nd game was, on the scoreboard at least, a little one sided. Our friends at 482days.com were at the game and commented that "Oxford were deserved winners but the game never really came alive." The 7-0 scoreline a bit of a surprise given the results Peterborough have put together recently. In Chelmsford, it was another much anticipated game that was expected, on paper at least, to be a close affair. In reality, although Guildford had plenty of chances, they weren't able to beat the Chieftains defence, nor were they able to do much about their attack as Chieftains ran out 5-0 winners, Filip Supa bagging another brace to add to his 4 goals the previous night. Finally, in Swindon, they remain bottom and pointless as they pushed 4th placed Solent Devils all the way to lose out 5-4. In the WPL, Chelmsford Cobras continued their winning streak as they ran out 6-0 winners over Nottingham Vipers, team Captain Jen Bolton the heroine taking a hat trick.
Chelmsford Cobras v Nottingham Vipers
It was a chilly afternoon in Chelmsford as Cobras welcomed the Nottingham Vipers to Riverside in the return leg of both team’s last game. Back in October in Nottingham it was Cobras who took the spoils with a 5-0 win, Tereza Plankova and Jennifer Bolton splitting the goal tally between them. Could Vipers return the favour at Riverside?
The first period was, in all fairness, a slow affair - although Referee Solovjovs allowed the play to flow. Despite lots of errant passes into open ice and turnovers from both teams, the play was end to end, although there wasn’t to trouble either goalie. With good defensive play from both teams chances really were few and far between. It wasn’t until just before the 18 minute mark that Tereza Plankova sent a cross ice pass to Tara North who was waiting on the far post to slot the puck home. It took just 40 seconds for the hosts to double their lead, North again getting the shot away that beat Summer Cramer in the Vipers goal - but not the goal post that stopped the puck and spat it back out only to ricochet of Cramer’s skate and skid back into the net. 2-0 Cobras, and that was pretty much the end of the period.
Period 2 started a bit more sprightly, some early pressure forcing a spectacular diving save from Cherry Hambleton. The first penalty of the game going against the Vipers, Jade Cito given two minutes for tripping. The ensuing power play saw plenty of pressure from Cobras but they were unable to convert, with Bull, Noble, and Woodard camped out in front of the Vipers goal taking swipes at the puck but couldn’t find a hole. Madison Wright forced Hambleton into another bag save allowing Katy Bull the opportunity to skate down the right wing and cut across the front of goal, her back handed shot saved by Cramer. Just after the halfway mark the pressure paid off, Jen Bolton getting a tip in to make it 3-0. Less than 2 minutes later, it was Bolton again skipping through the Nottingham defence and firing over Cramer’s right shoulder. Czech sniper Plankova came close to increasing the lead, her shot from a tight angle had Cramer beat but the puck skipped through the crease and wide. The pressure started to get to Vipers as Madison Wright knocked Bull to the ice behind the play not once but twice, drawing the wrath of Mr Solovjovs just a minute from the break. With Cobras not able to set up the power play the period ended with the home team having doubled their lead.
The third period started with a minute of power play time remaining from the 2nd for Cobras, Nottingham able to keep them from getting any kind of play going. 2 minutes into the period, the puck popped out to Jen Bolton on the blue line who sent a laser guided rocket past Cramer to add a 5th to their tally and claiming her hat trick. Shortly after, another rocket from the Captain forced a stoppage in play as it hit Cramer’s mask. A second attempt from the short angle by Plankova with just over 7 minutes remaining paid off, the puck just sneaking in by Cramer’s right shoulder, 6-0. With Madison Wright back in the penalty box for Vipers, Cobras camped out in front of the visitors goal, Plankova ringing one off the post before Lotte Ahmed skated in, fired wide, picked up the loose puck and skated round front for a perfect tape to tape pass to Plankova who once again had Cramer beat but was thwarted by the post. In t he dying seconds, with Vipers in penalty trouble again, AJ Woolard went hard on goal chasing a rebound, colliding with Cramer - the Cobras forward being helped from the ice by her team mates. With only enough time on the clock to drop the puck, the game ended with an emphatic 6-0 victory for Cobras, the result sending them to the top of the Women’s Premier League.
Next game for Cobras is 3rd December away to Bracknell Fire Bees, next home game is 21 January 2018 when they welcome Kingston Diamonds to Riverside.
Photos from the game are HERE
Chelmsford Chieftains v Guildford Phoenix
It was a game that, on paper, should have been close and evenly matched. Chelmsford Chieftains, favourites to be challenging for the league title again this season, welcomed brand new team Guildford Phoenix to Riverside. Phoenix have turned out to be one of the league's dark horses this season, taking wins from some big teams and, even though they lost out to the in-form Bracknell Hornets last weekend, they pushed them all the way to the final buzzer. Both teams came into Sunday night's game having won on Saturday, Chieftains with a scrappy 7-3 win at Alexandra Palace over Haringey Huskies, Phoenix taking an 8-4 victory against Cardiff.
It didn’t take Chieftains long, just 1:47 into the first period and import Filip Supa fired the home side into the lead from close range. Just seconds after the restart, Supa was in the thick of things again as he rang a shot off the post of Sam Calder, before he was hit hard by Joe Richardson, power play Chieftains. While the home side managed to set up on the man advantage, Phoenix were able to keep Chiefs chances largely to the outside and comfortably killed the penalty. But just before the 5 minute mark, Cameron Bartlett, from a tight angle just below the faceoff circle, fired a shot that found a space just above Calder’s left shoulder, doubling the lead. Phoenix regrouped and responded, managing to apply some pressure of their own in the Chieftains end, forcing Sonny Phillips in goal to make a spectacular quadruple save. Chieftains found themselves on the power play again when an unlucky bounce made the puck hit a Guildford player as he was coming onto the ice, too many men the call as the player he was replacing hadn’t yet left the ice. Again, Phoenix frustrated the Chelmsford power play, with little more than a couple of chances from the outside again. Penalty over, Gary Brown made an attempt to clear the puck, but inadvertently shot it straight over the plexi, attracting a 2 minute delay of game penalty for his trouble. Phoenix took up camp in the Chieftains zone, Chieftains cleared. Phoenix set up again, Chieftains cleared. This time, Supa chased the puck down the ice and, as it fell to a Phoenix player, he poked his stick in, stole the puck and slotted it past Calder to make it 3-0. Phoenix immediately called a time out and replaced Calder with back up Nettie Jacob Stoodley. With a minute remaining, Ross Brears went one on one with Stoodley but had the puck roll off his stick and couldn’t get a good enough shot away. At the end of the first period the score remained 3-0.
With Phoenix woefully outshot 24-6 in the first period, Chieftains fans hoped for more of the same from their team. Their hearts stopped with 30 seconds gone, however, when Guildford broke out of their zone 2 on 1, forcing Phillips into action. On the attack at the other end, Richardson tried to lay a big hit on Chiefs Tom Wilson, only to find that Wilson doesn’t move that easily, and Richardson was left sat on the ice with egg on his face and snow on the seat of his pants! Following some more pressure from Phoenix, Chieftains had another lucky escape when, as they tried to set up and break out of their zone, Andrew Hemmings intercepted a pass firing a rocket at Phillips only to see his shot saved. Just before the halfway mark, with Chieftains once again on the attack, Anthony Leone and Ross Brears combined in the face off circle, the pass going out to Rob Veares on the left point, who sent a laser guided missile that seemed to dodge every player on the way into the back of the net. 4-0 Chieftains. Another chance for Chieftains as the puck was loose and bouncing around the crease in front of Stoodley, but nobody could get a stick on it to poke it home. Phoenix then seemed to come alive, with an extended period of pressure while they set up camp in the Chieftains end. First, Jacob Rondeau-Smith forced Phillips to make an acrobatic diving save, then Bailey Wooton and Harry Hatfield rang the puck off the post within seconds of each other. With Guildford looking like they were starting to get the better of the play, it was a relief to hear the buzzer signalling the end of the period.
Into the third, and Chieftains started the period with just over a minute of power play time and, although they came close, forcing Stoodley to lay down on the puck at one point, again they couldn’t capitalise on the man advantage. Both teams mounted attack after attack, both sets of fans on the edge of their seats as either team looked on the verge of scoring. There were amazing saves from both goalies as both teams were caught on the break and gave up odd man rushes the opposite direction. The pressure paid off for Chieftains, however, when at 49:54 Donald Campbell floated a puck in from the blue line that seemed to take an age to travel the length of the attacking zone and somehow found it’s way over Stoodley’s shoulder for goal number 5. Phoenix battled hard to get a consolation goal, but everything they threw at Sonny Phillips he managed to stop. 5-0 the final score, the game was close on the ice if not on the scoreboard, not really doing justice to the effort the visitors put in.
Man of the match awards deservedly going to both goalies, Jacob Stoodley for facing 29 shots, and Sonny Phillips for his 31 shot shut out.
Next up, Chieftains face current league leaders Oxford City Stars at Riverside on December 3rd, face off 6:30pm, a game that should also be a close, hard fought affair.
Photos from the game are HERE
24 November 2017
It’s hockey weekend again as we look forward to more NIHL S2 action. Before we look ahead to this week's games we’ll have a quick recap on last weekend, which certainly threw up a couple of surprises that many didn't expect. Most notably, we predicted that Peterborough would win over Solent in a tight game, we certainly didn’t expect Solent to take a 6-0 victory from the Phantoms. Nor did we expect a four point weekend for Cardiff. We did, however, predict tight games between Bracknell and Guildford and Chelmsford and Bracknell, and we were certainly treated to a couple of doozies. On Saturday, Guildford pushed Bracknell all the way, as did Bracknell against Chelmsford on Sunday, the points going the way of the home team on both nights. Also expected were wins for Haringey Huskies over Invicta and Oxford over Slough.
This weekend promises as much, if not more. With eight games over the weekend, four on each night, there’s a lot to talk about. On Saturday, first up we have Invicta against Lee Valley Lions. With both teams on losing streaks, this one will be about who can break the slide. Invicta’s 3 game streak has seen them slip down to 12th in the table, not having won a game since the end of October when they beat Cardiff. We have noted that the two games they’ve won so far have been at home, so this may be a factor in this game. Lee Valley, on the other hand, can’t seem to buy a win. Although they came close last weekend against Haringey, both teams trading goals and Lions in the lead for a time, Huskies came back to win the game 8-6 sending Lion’s slump to 10 straight games and leaving them firmly rooted at the bottom of the table. Next up, Guildford welcome Cardiff to Surrey. Although losing out against Bracknell last weekend, Guildford pushed the Hornets for the whole game, losing out 4-3 in what really was a nail biter. Despite the loss, Guildford have proven that they’re no pushovers, having taken league leaders Oxford to overtime the weekend before. They are certainly proving themselves to be a bit of a dark horse in their inaugural season. Cardiff will no doubt be feeling confident though. Having won both games against Basingstoke and Bristol last weekend, they may well fancy their chances of taking the points here too. Haringey who entertain Chelmsford Chieftains, also had a four point weekend last week, winning 8-6 at Lee Valley on Saturday and 5-3 at home against Invicta on Sunday. However, until last weekend, they’d only won one in their last five. With consistency looking to be a bit of an issue there, Chieftains will look to capitalise. Having won 4 of their 5 games, they will put their one loss against Bristol down to a momentary lapse of concentration. In the final game on Saturday, there’s a Berkshire derby at The Hive as the Hornets take on Slough Jets.
James Ayling makes his return to Chieftains last week
Hornets 100% record finally came to an end on Sunday with the loss at Chelmsford so they will be wanting to bounce back from that and what better way to do it than in a derby game? The team certainly have the strength of character to forget about Sunday and move on. Slough, however, will be smarting from their 9-2 thumping by Oxford last week. Although not a surprising result, they will also wanting to get back to winning ways in a derby game. That said, Slough have won just 3 of 11 games and have slipped down to 10th in the league.
Sunday has potential to be even more thrilling with another four NIHL S2 games, including a highly anticipated 1st v 2nd. First game of the night is at Lee Valley as the Lions meet the Pitbulls. Lions have the chance to climb off the bottom of the table if they beat Invicta on Saturday night. Bristol’s win last weekend has lifted them to the dizzy heights of 12th place. Both teams have shown they have the ability to score goals, so it may come down to who has the better ability to stop goals being scored. In Oxford, league leaders Stars welcome 2nd placed Peterborough to Oxpens Road. Stars have won 10 of their 11 games, their only defeat coming at the hands of Bracknell a few weeks ago. Peterborough also have an impressive record, however, winning 8 of their 10 games. Aside from their shock 6-0 reverse last weekend, their only other loss so far this season was at the hands of Oxford at home just three weekends ago, Stars taking a 7-3 win in a game that was closer than the scoreline would suggest. This may surely be the game of the weekend in The Wilkinson. In Essex, Chieftains play host to Guildford. Chieftains marked their return to winning ways last week by announcing that fan favourite and filmmaker James Ayling would be returning to the team on a part time basis, and he sealed his return by grabbing an assist and plenty of ice time. Guildford will be hoping to arrive at Riverside having won a 7th game and, perhaps climbed a place or two up the table overnight. Having seen their performance against Bracknell last week, we thoroughly expect this one to be another nail biting affair. And in the last game of the night, Swindon Wildcats welcome Solent. The only other team in the league to not have any points, the ‘Cats will certainly have their work cut out for them having given up double figure scores four times this season already. And after beating Peterborough 6-0 last weekend, Devils will most definitely be looking to add to that figure. Aside from a chronic inability to stop pucks going in the net, Swindon also seem to be unable to score. With Solent having the second lowest goals against, this one looks like it’s going to be an uphill struggle for Swindon, who may be coming into the game bottom of the table if Lee Valley take anything other than a regulation time loss away from Invicta.
Cobras Captain Jen Bolton scored a brace against Vipers last time they met
Also on Sunday, in a lunchtime face off at Riverside there is some WPL action in a game that’s beed dubbed “The Battle Of The Snakes”. Chelmsford Cobras will play their fourth game of their short season, welcoming Nottingham Vipers to the ice. The teams met in Nottingham last month, Cobras taking an impressive 5-0 victory away from home. The game wasn’t without incident either, as Cobras Zara Schott and Vipers Megan Rathbone reportedly dropped their gloves. Not exactly the type of handbags that ladies are used to. Schott picked up a 2+2 for roughing for her part, while her combat partner received a MATCH penalty for fighting on top of the initial tripping minor she was being called for. There won’t be a rematch, however, as it was the last game both teams played, so Rathbone will still be sitting out her mandatory suspension. We’re sure there’ll be someone willing to take her place, though. In the more important stats, Cobras five goals were split between just two players, Captain Jen Bolton getting a brace while Czech sniper Tereza Plankova bagged a hat trick.
With so much going on this weekend in The Wilkinson, and so many games between teams so closely placed, predicting winners is going to be tricky but we’ll give it a go. On Saturday, we expect wins for Invicta, Guildford, Chelmsford, and Bracknell. While on Sunday, in NIHL we predict the points going to Bristol, Oxford, Chelmsford, and Solent. And finally, in WPL, we expect Cobras to take a second win over Nottingham.
Since real life gets in the way for us on Saturday and we have to work, we won’t be able to make it to a game. However, we will still have two games to report on as we’re going to be having a double header at Riverside. Chelmsford Cobras v Nottingham Vipers face off at 12:20pm, with free entry for all. And Chieftains v Guildford faces off at 6:30pm. We’ll be tweeting live from both games, if you can’t make it to the rink give us a follow on twitter at @icecoldphotos for updates on all the action as it happens.
20 November 2017
For the first time in 6 weeks the hockey faithful of Essex gathered at Riverside leisure centre in Chelmsford as their champion Chieftains prepared to take on a completely revamped Bracknell Hornets side. Led by player/coach Danny Hughes, Hornets have strung together an impressive 7 game winning streak leaving them as the only side in NIHL S2 with an unbeaten record.
In front of a near capacity crowd, the game opened with a quick penalty against Chieftains as Leone hooked Hughes clean off his feet as he was about to break down the ice. Hornets weren’t really able to set up the power play and Chieftains looked like breaking out short handed. With lots of end to end play, there were chances for both teams but Sonny Phillips and James Richardson in their respective goals were equal to everything. That was until, at 9:44, with Jack Tarczycki in the penalty box for Slashing, Filip Supa fired a rocket over Richardson’s left shoulder from just in front of goal. 1-0 Chieftains. Hornets tried to break back but each attack was met at the blue line by the Chieftains defence. With Tom Fisher sitting out a delay of game penalty, Sean Scarborough broke towards the Chieftains goal dodging hit after hit, eventually laying the puck off to Steve Fisher who was hit knee on knee by Cameron Bartlett sending him crashing to the ice. The resulting penalty gave us 26 seconds of 4 on 4 then, with the Hornets penalty killed the set up in the Chieftains zone. Brears broke out short handed, shot on Richardson who saved and sent the rebound back to Brears, he skated behind the goal and tried a wraparound but Richardson saved again. This time, however, Darren Brown was waiting for the rebound and he made no mistake burying the puck behind the Bracknell stopper. Just minutes later and the Hornets goalie was called into action again as first Filip Supa and then Cameron Bartlett forced him into a spectacular triple save, bringing an exciting first period to a close.
With the teams out for the second period, it was good to see Hornets Steve Fisher back on the ice (we don’t like to see people injured), although he didn’t stay out for long as he absolutely levelled Donald Campbell and got to sit out a Charging minor for his effort. Chieftains struggled to set up on the power play, however, and it was Hornets who had the better chance as Danny Hughes got on goal short handed, beating Sonny Phillips only for his shot to go skidding behind the Chieftains goalie and through the crease to safety. Hornets found themselves in plenty of penalty trouble throughout the period but Chieftains were unable to capitalise on any of the chances, Danny Hughes again getting the best of them going up against Phillips but not just being able to find a puck sized gap. With Hornets being frustrated on every attack, Steve Fisher lost his rag when an accidental high stick by Donald Campbell went unnoticed by Referee Thompson so he went all vigilante and chased him down the ice dragging him to the ground. Again, Hornets had the better of the chances on the power play, this time Sean Scarborough going one on one with Phillips forcing an outstanding save from the keeper. With plenty of chances and lots of end to end action it’s surprising that there were no further goals, the period ending with the score remaining 2-0 in favour of the Chieftains.
The third started with some good pressure from the home side, Richardson dodging a bullet as he fumbled a shot dropping it by his left post. Luckily, for him, there wasn’t a Chieftains player around to take advantage. Some more pressure was absorbed by the Hornets defence, while a Chieftains slap shot was absorbed by Tarczycki’s knee. Shaking off the pain, he skated down the ice and let go a howitzer from the point, which Phillips somehow managed to pluck from mid air. Danny Hughes once again had Sonny beat - his rocket ringing off the left post. It was Chieftains, however, who took advantage. James Ayling marked his return to Chieftains by skating down the right wing and centring a pass tape to tape to Ross Brears right in the middle of the slot who made no mistake. 3-0 Chieftains. Liam Paulson and TJ Fillery had a bit of a pushing and shoving match, resulting in both players being sent into Sin Bin Jack’s hangout - Paulson getting two minutes for roughing and Fillery getting 2+2 also for roughing. With just under 8 minutes remaining, Hornets finally got on the board, Scarborough going in on Phillips deking left then right before tucking the puck underneath to break the shutout. Less than three minutes later and Ben Ealey-Newman gave the Hornets more hope as he reduced the deficit to one. With 3 minutes left on the clock, the Scarborough line once again caused trouble for the Chieftains defence and it was only another highlight reel save from Sonny Phillips that kept the puck out. 2 minutes to go and Ross Brears on a breakaway went one on one with Richardson but sent the puck whistling just wide of the mark. Into the last minute and Chieftains captain Anthony Leone blasted a shot that ricocheted off the crossbar. And in the dying seconds, with a face off to the right of Phillips, Hornets pulled Richardson in favour of an extra forward, but it was to no avail, final score Chieftains 3-2 Bracknell Hornets.
With a full 60 minutes of end to end action, and chances galore for both teams it ended up a game that could have gone either way. On the night, Hornets defence let them down a bit, although Chieftains definitely have Sonny Phillips to thank for keeping the Hornets tally down to two. A bumper crowd, including the largest I’ve ever seen Bracknell bring to Riverside, were treated to a true game of ice hockey, with the final score being a fair reflection on the game.
Man of the match beers went to Jack Tarczycki for Bracknell and Sonny Phillips for Chieftains.
The result means Chieftains move up into 7th place, still with lots of games in hand of everyone else. Next weekend Chieftains have a full weekend planned as they travel to Alexandra Palace to face the Haringey Huskies on Saturday, and welcome new comers Guildford Phoenix to Riverside on Sunday.
Photos from the game are HERE
18 November 2017
It’s been a few weeks since we last got to see some NIHL ice hockey, in fact the last game we went to see was the Elite League game in MK that saw our first love of hockey, Manchester Storm, go down 3-2 in what turned out to be an absolute thriller.
There’s a lot happened in the NIHL since we last had a game to report on, particularly with the teams we follow. Most notably there was the announcement of the suspension of Chieftains goal machines Cameron and Grant Bartlett for their part in the brawl in the team’s first home game of the season against Invicta Mustangs. Cameron was initially awarded a 6 game ban keeping him out of the line up until December, although this was later overturned following an appeal by the team, and Grant received a 9 game ban. Chieftains responded by bolstering their squad, announcing that U18s player Sam Austin would be making the jump to the seniors, and Matt France, who previously signed then resigned due to work commitments, found himself available to play again so has been readded to the roster.
With the two new players added, Chieftains embarked on their first game in a fortnight last weekend as they travelled to Oxford to take on Bristol Pitbulls and, in an unexpected turn of events, starting Chieftains goalie Billy Cook got a baptism by fire as the home side pulled of the upset of the season so far, beating the all conquering Chieftains 3-1 - a result that would send shockwaves throughout the league.
Chieftains obviously felt as though they were missing something as they announced on their social media outlets midweek that they would be signing a new player very soon. The rumour mill on Twitter and Facebook went wild with juicy gossip as fans from all teams and leagues speculated on who the new player might be. With ex Chieftains stopper Evan King announcing he was leaving London Raiders, and big Czech player Adam Rehak recently AWOL from the Dynamos line up, there was certainly a lot of food for thought for the speculators - one can only imagine the excitement that would have been gathering on The Hockey Forum. In the end, the announcement was made and Chieftains fans were delighted to see thespian James Ayling return to their line up - albeit on a part time basis to cover the still suspended Grant Bartlett.
On to this weekend's action now and there’s a bumper programme in NIHL S2 with 7 games in total (ok it’s not that many but in our league 7 games is a marathon!) for fans to get their teeth into. Even we have a two game weekend!
On Saturday, 2nd V 3rd meet on the South Coast as Peterborough travel to Gosport to take on Solent Devils. Both teams are looking evenly matched thus far, with just three points separating them and Solent, in third place, having a game in hand of the Phantoms. The teams met back in October at Peterborough, the home side taking the win in Overtime after it finished 2-2 in regulation. At Alley Pally Haringey Huskies welcome Invicta Mustangs. Huskies come into this one on the back of a thrilling 8-6 victory over Lee Valley last weekend - a game that saw the sides trading goals until the very end. Mustangs, on the other hand, are coming into this one having won only two of their ten games so far. Slough face table toppers Oxford, who are coming in on a 7 game winning streak - although league newbies Guildford Phoenix took them to Overtime on Sunday. Slough, in contrast, have won 3 and lost 7. Mid-table, Basingstoke Buffalo are at home to struggling Cardiff Fire. Buffalo have found a little bit of form the last couple of weeks after being on the wrong side of an 18-1 tilt against Oxford at the end of October. Fire, on the other hand, have played just 5 games and lost the last three of them. Although they did look like causing an upset last weekend as they led Hornets 3-1 for quite a while before Bracknell found another gear eventually running out 9-5 winners in that one. Finally on Saturday, Bracknell Hornets take on the team that almost upset Oxford last weekend. Guildford visit The Hive hoping to build on their OT loss at Oxford last week, but Hornets are the only team left in the league with a 100% record so far having dropped to 5th place in the league purely due to lack of games. Hornets have also scored five or more goals in every game they’ve played so far.
On Sunday, Cardiff Fire welcome last week’s giant killers Bristol Pitbulls to IAW in a near bottom of the table clash. At the time of writing, both teams are on 4 points although Fire do have two games in hand over Bristol. In the only other game on Sunday, Chelmsford Chieftains play just their second home game of the season - and the first time they’ll have played on home ice in around 6 weeks. Their opponents will be 100% boys Bracknell Hornets. In the last few seasons, Chieftains have dominated this tie racking up big numbers against what has been a short benched Hornets side. This time, however, we expect things to be a little different. With Danny Hughes at the helm, and a bench not only big enough to cope but also one that’s housing some big names in the league, expect Hornets to give Chieftains a run for their money in this outing. Chiefs, however, will be smarting after that loss against Bristol last week and will be looking to take it out on somebody. Despite the big names in the Hornets Nest, there’s none in there that Chieftains haven’t beaten before. And, with James Ayling making his much welcomed return, the Essex side will be looking to resume normal service.
With so much going on this weekend, it’s a big two game weekend for us as we head to Bracknell to see them take on tricky new boys Guildford Phoenix, while on Sunday, we’ll be at Riverside for our game of the weekend Chelmsford Chieftains v Bracknell Hornets. We’ll be tweeting live from both games so give us a follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/icecoldphotos
With recent games and league positions taken into account, we expect wins on Saturday for Peterborough Phantoms, Haringey Huskies, Oxford City Stars, Bracknell Hornets, and Basingstoke Buffalo, although we do expect Solent/Peterborough to be a close game and Bracknell/Guildford won’t be a walk in the park for the Hornets either. On Sunday, we fancy Bristol to take the points from Cardiff and Chieftains to just edge Bracknell at Riverside.
29 October 2017
With the fallout from #snackgate and #saucegate finally subsiding, it's time for us to take a mid-weekend look at what's happening around the Wilkinson.
There were three games on Saturday night that turned out to have reasonably close scorelines. In the first game of the night, Chelmsford Chieftains travelled to the South Coast to face Solent Devils in what was, despite it being almost November, just their third game of the season. Chieftains took an early advantage thanks to Robert Veares, who put the visitors up 1-0 at 12:02, but just 44 seconds later Dan Shier replied for the Devils, sending the teams into the first break tied at 1-1. Goals either side of the half way point, first from Filip Supa and then Darren Brown gave Chieftains a 3-1 advantage, before Veares was then assessed a 5+GAME penatly for boarding. Chieftains successfully killed off the major penalty only for Alex Trendall to cut their lead to one just seconds before the end of the period. Just over a minute after the restart Ross Brears restored the two goal cushion and, with the score poised at 4-2, Devils took a time out at 54:57 to regroup and plan a strategy. With 42 seconds remaining on the clock, the home side pulled goalie Aaron Taylor in favour of an extra attacker. 20 seconds later Filip Supa capitalised on the empty net to bag his second goal of the night. Chieftains Man Of The Match award going to Sonny Phillips for facing 53 shots, although with a goal and four assists, it must've been a close second for Ross Brears. Final score in Hampshire Solent Devils 2-5 Chelmsford Chieftains.
In Kent, Invicta Mustangs welcomed Cardiff Fire to Silver Blades for what looked to be a close game. The action started just over 5 minutes in when Alix Deviell opened the scoring for the home side, a lead they kept until the end of the first period. 47 seconds into the 2nd period, Cardiff tied the game thanks to Rhys Harding capitalising on the dying seconds of a 5on3 powerplay. Just after the half way point Brad Gutridge restored the Mustangs lead, the period ending 2-1 in favour of the Kentish side.
Aside from a few minor penalties assessed to each side, it took almost all of the third period before there was any more action, Tom Dennis eventually doubling the Mustangs lead with just 4:02 remaining, then Rhys Harding claiming his second goal for the visitors just half a minute later. Despite Cardiff taking their time out at 57:55, goalie Luke Takel stayed in his net and the game finished 3-2 in favour of Invicta Mustangs.
At Oxpens Road, "Home" side Bristol Pitbulls took on NIHL newcomers Guildford Phoenix in what was almost the lowest scoring game of the season so far. Olly Shone gave the Pitbulls an early lead, however former Invicta Dynamo Bailey Wootton grabbed an equaliser for Guildford with just over three minutes of the first period remaining. A stalemate of a second period left the game still tied at one apiece with 20 minutes remaining, and it took until 47:39 for the deadlock to be broken, Josh Abbott getting the go-ahead goal for Phoenix. Pitbulls dragged goalie Ross Miller from his crease in favour of an extra attacker with 47 seconds remaining, neither team able to take any advantage from the empty net situation. Final score: Bristol Pitbulls 1-2 Guildford Phoeinix, sending the Surrey team to 4th in the table overnight.
Looking ahead to Sunday's games, and back at Oxpens Road, Oxford City Stars will be hoping to take a win against Basingstoke Buffalo, who have won just two of their six games so far. A win for Oxford should leap frog them above Peterborough Phantoms IF they lose at Swindon. Although with Swindon being one of two teams in the Wilkinson still yet to register a point, it's not looking good for them against the league leaders. And with Swindon currently on 96 PIMs, we thoroughly expect them to become the twelfth of fourteen teams in the league to have triple figures in that column by the end of the night, and we're still only in October.
For us, with no games for Chieftains or Hornets tonight, we're taking a break from NIHL and will be making the trip to Planet Ice at Milton Keynes to catch some Elite League action as MK Lightning take on our first true ice hockey love, Manchester Storm. Having been a Storm fan since their original incarnation back in the late 1990's, this will be the first time we've caught one of their games since their re-birth a few years ago. Going into tonight's game, Storm are sitting pretty at the top of the EIHL having won 10 of their 13 games and leading their historic bitter rivals, Sheffield Steelers, by three points with a game in hand of the South Yorkshire side. Lightning, on the other hand, are sitting mid table with a record of 5-6-1 from their first 12 games in the Elite League. That said, at the start of this month the teams met for a double header weekend. At Planet Ice, Storm gave up a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 after a valiant MK fightback, Denny Kearney getting the game winner for MK with just 3:24 left to play. The following night in the return match in Altrincham, Storm got their revenge in a 6-0 victory, Mike Clemente facing just 24 shots on the Manchester goal. More recently, MK will be coming in to tonight's game trying to bounce back from a 4-3 OT loss in Nottingham last night, while Manchester will be making the trip to Buckinghamshire oozing confidence on the back of a huge 9-0 win against Edingburgh Capitals at the Storm Shelter.
25 October 2017
During the early part of this week another ruckus has been unfolding over on social media site Twitter.
It all started with self confessed hockey nerd Laurence Thorn making an innocent comment about getting to meet a couple of people at a game, and his pledge to meet media mogul Nancy of 482days.com. Things took a turn for the worse, however, when the Oxfordshire based reporting team accused Laurence of giving chips a higher priority than meeting them.
There then followed a lengthy debate as to whether salt and vinegar, a staple for any fish and chip connoisseur, was acceptable on not only chips, but also crisps. While most people (we’ll call them the sensible ones) accepted that salt and vinegar was essential on chips, many felt that adding those condiments to crisps was paramount to sacrilege.
This, in turn, led to the debate turning to the colouring of crisp packets and should salt and vinegar crisps have blue or green packets. While the sensible ones agree that salt and vinegar should be blue, and that Walkers only took the decision to make theirs green and cheese and onion flavour blue was to trick people into eating the vileness that is salt and vinegar crisps. Indeed, there were one or two that thought salt and vinegar crisps should be indicated by a green packet.
Just for a chuckle, however, we decided to throw into the “Snackgate” debate that chips should be accompanied by gravy - nice, thick gravy. While this didn’t elicit much of a reaction, it did further the debate onto mushy peas. “Disgusting things”, said one commenter, “just the thought of them makes me shudder” mentioned another, and a new movement was born - Hockey Against Mushy Peas (HAMPs). 482days actually called them - and I quote! “Spawn of the devil” While Ivor McDonald wondered if mushy peas were the devil child of a tryst between a battered sausage and a spam fritter. Meanwhile, Ice Hockey LGBTQ wondered if I was someone who put mint sauce on mushy peas. Exactly where that came from and what kind of person they think I am to do such a thing, I swear I have no idea! At which point someone mentioned that they were too young to have enjoyed a Spam fritter. Well. We all know that the words “Spam” and “enjoyed” should never, ever be used in the same sentence. All of a sudden, #oneNIHL tried to start a war by opening up the “rolls/barmcakes/baps” debate. Of course, they’re called BARMCAKES, as everyone knows.
Justin Wilson, rink announcer at Bracknell Hornets games, reminisced about someone he once saw eating avocado and chicken on Ryvita at a game. The conversation went quiet for a while, possibly due to the shock of what people had just read. While Dynamo’s Wallbanger Mike Wright mentioned he’d recently seen a man at the London v Invicta game a couple of weeks ago eating a tub of something resembling chicken curry and chips with a wooden spoon. “Outrageous!”, cried Ivor McDonald.
Once things had quietened down a bit, and everyone thought they were safe, up popped the yellow laptop brigade from 428days again and threw a prawn sandwich in the works. I mean, a PRAWN sandwich? In ice hockey? We’ve always been a keen supporter of everything 482days does, but a prawn sandwich?
It has to be said that while the whole of Snackgate was going on, all was quiet from Camp Carrsy, who we assumed was sitting nicely in the corner out of sight taking notes for next week’s Pro Hockey News round up. When all of a sudden, the big girls blouse popped up and said he’d had a salad for lunch. How mean is that, depriving all of those raw Big Macs and raw bacon sandwiches of their food. #oneNIHL told Mr Carr in no uncertain terms that “you don’t win friends with salad!”
Oh but then there’s the “red sauce or brown sauce on a bacon buttie” debate…….
14 October 2017
Another hockey weekend is upon us but with no games for Chieftains again, let's have a look at what else is happening around the Wilkinson this weekend. A total of five games in NIHL S2 this weekend, three on Saturday and two on Sunday.
In Surrey, Guildford Phoenix welcome Haringey Huskies as they take on the third placed side. Huskies are coming into the game having won four of their last six games, although their recent form has dipped losing their last two games last weekend against Peterborough and Bracknell. Despite their league position, looking at the table they've conceded almost as many goals as they've scored, with a goal difference of just +2, although conceding 13 to Peterborough at Ally Pally last weekend wouldn't have helped that. Guildford, on the other hand, are 2 and 2 in the W/L columns, they'll be looking to build on last weeks narrow 7-5 win over Slough Jets.
Meanwhile in Berkshire, Slough Jets are one of two teams playing on Saturday who are yet to register a point on the NIHL S2 league table, having lost all four of their games so far. With a goal average of -17, they'll be looking to pull off an unlikely win against an in form Solent Devils, who, of their three games played, have won 2, their only loss coming in overtime against Peterborough.
A few miles down the M4, in the final game of the day, Bracknell Hornets take on current wooden spoon contenders Swindon Wildcats. Hornets, who are already looking like early title contenders, will be looking to hold on to their 100% record and, after recording some big numbers on the score sheet in their opening three games, they'll no doubt be looking to get back to those ways after a narrow 5-3 win against the Huskies at The Hive last Sunday. Swindon, having played three and lost three, will be looking to pull of what could be the upset of the league so far this season. Having lost to Haringey and Chelmsford by big numbers in their opening two games, their narrow 4-3 defeat at Invicta last weekend would suggest improvement. But we think that says more about the Mustangs ability to score than it does the 'Cat's inability to defend. A win tonight will see Hornets back at the top of the table, although how long they stay there would depend on Peterborough's result on Sunday. Ahead of the game, Hornets player/coach Danny Hughes told us "Hopefully it'll be an easy win for us today. We have Sean Scarborough back as well. I was disappointed with our game last week, we made hard work of it." A very confident sounding coach there, and with their early flying start to the season we think he has every right to be.
Sunday's action will see current league leaders Peterborough Phantoms take on Slough Jets, who will be hoping to be coming into the game off the back of an upset the night before, although with Devil's form it looks unlikely, as does coming away from Peterborough with anything. Phantoms are currently 3-1-0-0 from their first four games, conceding just 8 goals and having an average of +18.
Oxford City Stars are back in action in their first game in a fortnight. They welcome Invicta to Oxpens Road, and with a record of 3-0-0-1 from their first 4, they'll be looking for another two points from the Mustangs who have won just one in their five outings this season. However, having been suitably wound up in the bad tempered game in Chelmsford last weekend, which saw a massive 176 minutes in penalties dished out by Referee Jurijs Salovjovs, they'll be looking to bounce back from that and claim a big scalp. However, with all the firepower the Stars have in their arsenal, we think that's going to be a big ask.
Away from NIHL and into the WPL, and Chelmsford Cobras travel North to Hull to take on the Kingston Diamonds. Last season's wooden spoon winners, Diamonds just about edged out Nottingham Vipers 5-4 at the NIC in their only game of the season so far, Kiana Tait the hero of the game for Kingston scoring the game winner. In contrast, Cobras anhiliated league newbies Bracknell Fire Bees 12-2 at Riverside a fortnight ago, with new signing Ellie Wakeling making a dream debut by scoring a hat trick - as did Jen Bolton, with Charlotte Ahmed and Tereza Plankova bagging a brace and Lucy Jarvis and Abbie Sylvester also on the score sheet. Although we think it's going to be a close game, if Cobras can take a full bench to Hull we think they'll take the W.
So, our predictions for the weekend, wins for Haringey, Solent and Bracknell on Saturday, and also for Peterborugh and Oxford on Sunday, leaving the top four of the league table on Sunday night looking pretty much as it does Saturday morning.
For us, this weekend, we will, once again, be braving the M11/M25/M4 combination on a Saturday afternoon to catch the Bracknell/Swindon game. We'll be tweeting updates live from The Hive, face off is at 6pm. Aside from the hockey, we're also going for the delicious coffee and hot chocolate from the rink side cafe! If anybody's there and wants to buy us one....all donations will be gratefully received.
In other news, fans of Essex team Chelmsford Chieftains were rocked by the decisions of the league's disciplinary committee this week after investigations into last week's brawl left Cameron Bartlett suspended for 6 games for delivering a blow to the head of a player unable to defend himself, while brother Grant received an 11 game suspension for various offences surrounding the events of last Sunday. In contrast, for their part, Invicta Mustangs bench coach received a two game ban, suspended until the end of the season for failing to control his players. Naturally, this has caused uproar on the various social media outlets - mostly from Chieftains fans accusing both referee and league of being biased against Chelmsford. Also suspended for two games is Guildford Phoenix's Montgomery Gailer for his Match penalty for Butt-Ending in their game against Slough Jets last Saturday.
And finally, following our exclusive earlier in the week regarding 482days.com's controversial decision to include NIHL North games in their weekly PIAMG competition, we received the shocking news that their MD/CEO, chief marketing director and head honcho, Nancy Carpenter, had to receive emergency treatment after reading our article. It's reported that after almost choking on her wine laughing, she had to be rushed to the nearest bar for a refill. We wish Nancy all the best for her recovery. ;o)
11 October 2017
**BREAKING NEWS** 482days.com Takes #piamg National
Fans of NIHL South were this week left reeling with the shocking news that ice hockey media outlet 482days.com was taking their score predictions competition "piamg" nationwide by including NIHL North games into the mix.
The competition for prize mugs, which has been running since 2015, is a Twitter based lottery that sees competitors guess the total amount of goals scored in National Ice Hockey League games over each weekend. It was announced on Twitter on Monday morning that there would be a change of rules for the competition which would see the number of games doubled thus making the job of predicting the total number of goals scored twice as hard.
It's fair to say that fans in the South were incensed by the decision and were more than happy to voice their thoughts to us. Justin Wilson, Social Media guru and match night rink announcer for Bracknell Hornets told us "Well having 3 mugs already, one of each variety, I'm glad this has happened, there's now more people involved to laugh at Laurence Thorn for dropping his." While Invicta Dynamos fan Marc Stelfox rubbed it in a bit more saying "I can drop one of mine and it won't smash cos it's made of metal. Just saying."
Once he'd got over the shock of Justin's rebuke, Laurence told us that "Now the North is involved maybe Carrsy will start entering."
London Raiders team physio and official match night Tweeter Michelle Spight dropped her stash of match night Haribo when she heard the news. Picking up the wayward Tangfastics she said "Northerners will do anything for a freebie - including begging Nancy to let them be involved with PIAMG!"
Dynamos Wallbanger and video game shop manager Mike Wright threw the latest wireless xBox controller at his shops plasma screen TV in disgust as the news broke, saying "I waited two years to win a bloody 482days PIAMG mug and now she's gone and changed the bloody rules! I'm not a happy hedgehog!" Carl Huxted, also a Wallbanger, speculated that "Nancy thought PIAMG had become far too easy after Mike won one" Michelle Spight also added that "it's a good job Mike has won one already cos now Nancy's changed the rules he doesn't stand a chance with such a big audience."
It wasn't all doom and gloom in the South, though, as blogger, novelist and Streatham/Bracknell/Guildford fan Jules Cliff said "Fingers crossed this will include the Elite, all levels of NIHL and womens hockey because hockey is for everyone. PIAMG is for everyone. You can never have enough mugs in UK hockey. Hoorah for Nancy." Jules then went off to write another short story for her blog which probably saw another poor unsuspecting character meet an early and untimely demise.
To try and increase their exposure up North, 482days.com have used their large marketing budget to hire a yellow bus with PIAMG branding on the outside. "I thought it was the Charlestown Chiefs Booster club in town" said Jon Tarbuck. "It pulled up outside Blackburn Arena and got wedged on a bollard. I missed my daughters Christening as a result. Whoever 482 days are, they are not welcome in my town thats for sure"
"I dont know who this 482 days character is but if she is giving away free mugs that will be canny' said Billingham fan Steven Baker. "I've had a Cleveland Bombers mug since 1989 and, while I'm not a fan of yellow crockery, if its free I am all over it"
While we did manage to speak to some other folk North of Watford Gap, other than a few mumbles of "By 'Eck" and "Eh oop chuck" most of it was too strange to translate into Southern, even for Native Northerners like us. While a chap in a flat cap and clogs sitting on Wigan Pier just asked what flavour pies they made.
"It's typical of 482 Days to include the North as an afterthought" said David Carr of Pro Hockey News. "If their media wagon goes any further North than Milton Keynes they have a warning light come up on their dashboard. That said, I have a 482 days mug from last year and it copes with the hard water down here in London very well. We know all Northerners are hard as nails so it should be able to withstand a good solid grip and a brew of any kind"
Nancy Carpenter, 482days supremo, was unavailable for comment at the time of writing. But they're no stranger to controversy, once threatening to make PIAMG a subscription only competition. Following a regionwide outcry, they tried to laugh it off saying it was an "April Fools prank". One thing is for sure, if these mugs start heading North, then the Southerners will be revolting.
My thanks to everyone who contributed to this light hearted article. Most are real people, however Jon Tarbuck and Steven Baker may be real people or just a figment of David Carr's wonderful imagination.
9 October 2017
Chieftains V Invicta Mustangs Match Report
Twenty Six weeks after the last Chieftains home game at Riverside closing out the last season against Invicta Dynamos in the play-off final, Chieftains returned to home ice to begin the 2017/18 season and, for the second season running, welcomed an Invicta team for the season opener. This time, however, it’s NIHL S2 and the opponents were the Mustangs.
The visitors were coming to Riverside on the back of a narrow 4-3 victory over Swindon Wildcats the previous night so were brimming with confidence. This was to be short lived, however, as Captain Anthony Leone started things of with just 30 seconds on the clock firing in from the left face-off circle to send the Riverside crowd into an early frenzy. It took referee Jurijs Solovjovs just over 4 minutes to find his whistle and call the first penalty, Grant Bartlett sitting for a trip. Mustangs were unable to get set up in the Chieftains end and it was the home side that had the better chances during the penalty kill. Less than a minute after the Chieftains penalty ended, they were on the powerplay Tom Dennis also sat for a trip and the Chiefs powerplay unit went to work setting up camp in the Mustangs zone but were unable to convert. Chieftains were having the run of the play, creating chances galore but Matt Passmore in the ‘Stangs goal was equal to all the home side had to offer. Just before the halfway point of the period the pressure got to both teams as Cameron Bartlett skated on Passmore, who took a bit of exception and pushed Bartlett away - who then promptly pushed the Mustangs nettie into his own goal. Lots of words were exchanged before a few punches were thrown but before the officials could intervene half the team jumped on Bartlett, sparking other scuffles to break out. With fans and officials not knowing where to look next, in the middle of the melee Grant Bartlett and Passmore were trading punches, which was quickly broken up. Feeling all left out at the other end of the ice, Chieftains goalie Sonny Phillips decided to have a skate down to see what the trouble was and joined the party as he and Matt Passmore traded punches. With the rioting died down, and the officials had a conflab as to what just happened. Once they’d picked the bones out of it, Chris Norris and Tom Dennis were ejected on game misconducts - Norris with a 2+2+game for fighting, Dennis picking up 2+2+game for leaving the players bench and Matt Passmore with 2+2 for fighting. On the Chieftains side, Cameron Bartlett was given 2 for interference, 2+2+Match for fighting, Grant Bartlett received a Match penalty for fighting, while Sonny Phillips was awarded 2 mins for leaving his crease and 2+2+2 for fighting. All this resulting in Chieftains with an almost unprecedented double major penalty to kill off. A minute and half into the 5 minutes of 5 on 3, Darren Brown skated into the zone and doubled the host’s lead shorthanded. And just a few seconds after the major penalties expired, Sean Martin skated down the right wing and centred himself for the Chieftains 3rd goal. Invicta were quick to question the goal, however, as there was still a minor penalty to kill and thought Chieftains had too many men on the ice. Solovjovs was having none of it, though, and the goal stood.
The second period started much more serenely as both teams took tentative steps into the zone, with not much going on until Tom Wilson got the puck and took off down the ice and blasting it past Passmore just over five minutes into the period. Less than two minutes later and returning fans favourite Ross Brears was on the score sheet. At the halfway point, Mustangs were called for Kneeing, Jake Luton guilty of the infraction, and Anthony Leone set new import Filip Supa up for goal number 6. There really wasn’t much for Sonny Phillips to do in the Chieftains goal but, when called on, made some outstanding stops.
The third period started with Chieftains pretty much setting up camp in the Mustangs zone when Invicta’s Tom Mallet was penalised for cross checking and Chieftains’ Sean Martin was called for holding giving a 4on4, which seemed to open the flood gates as, in the space of five minutes, First Darren Brown scored his second, then Filip Supa with his second, and Darren Brown again with his hat trick goal took the home side’s lead to 9-0. Invicta then had a spell of pressure forcing save after save out of Phillips until there was a scramble in front of the crease and the game, once again, became controversial as Lucy Gruber poked the puck under Phillips to break his shut out, leaving Phillips a little upset at Solovjovs for allowing the goal, implying that the net was of and the goal shouldn’t stand. After saying something bad to Solovjovs, he was then dealt a 10 minute misconduct + game misconduct for abuse of official. So, for the second game running, young Billy Cook got some first team ice time for the last ten minutes. With Chieftains not really letting the Mustangs really get close, all Cook had to do mostly was watch as Filip Supa completed his hat trick and, with just under five minutes remaining, Sean Martin bagged his second goal.
After the game, head coach Ben Clements told us “Overall I’m very pleased with the result of the game. The guys started a lot better than they did against Swindon. Defensively we were a lot stronger in front of our own net which is going to be key this season with so many strong teams going forward. Obviously losing Cam and Grant to match penalties isn’t ideal at all, as they are two players I need on the ice and not in the stands so hopefully they won’t be out for too long but we are still waiting to hear from the league on that”
With a final score of 11-1, this was certainly a dominant performance from Chieftains, and resembling the Chieftains of the last few years, with a result the fans have come to expect. That was also reflected in the shots on goal, 46-34 in favour of Chieftains. But, once again in a season opener, it’s the PIM’s that will be the talking point of this game, with a total of five players ejected from the game - two of which were match penalties leaving both players suspended for at least the next game.
Next home game for Chieftains will be against Bracknell Hornets on Sunday 19th November at Riverside, face off as always at 6:30pm. With an in-form Hornets side looking a force to be reckoned with already this season, one gets the feeling that this will be a much, much closer affair.
Photos from the game are HERE
8 October 2017
It's Game Day!
It's been a whopping 26 weeks to the day since Chelmsford Chieftains last played a home game. Back then, nobody would have envisioned that the league as we knew it was about to change, and the effects that was to have on UK ice hockey.
On that day 26 long weeks ago, that fateful Sunday in April, it was Invicta Dynamos that Chieftains welcomed to Riverside in the 2nd leg of the NIHL S1 play-off final. In a thrilling encounter and a display of everything ice hockey should be, Chieftains won the game 4-2 on the night, but the damage had been done the night before as Dynamos took the first leg 8-3 - a deficit that Chieftains were just not able to overcome, making a jubilant Invicta Dynamos team play-off champions 2016/17.
Fast forward 26 weeks and in Chieftains home 2017/18 opener they once again welcome an Invicta team to Riverside. Only this time it's the Mustangs who are the visitors. With the well publicised demise of the EPIHL and the restructuring of the NIHL, Chieftains have opted to play this season in NIHL S2 alongside the Mustangs, thus ending several years of good healthy rivalry between the two sides and their fans for the next year, at least.
Having only one game under their belts this season, Chieftains will come into this game looking to build on last week's 13-4 win in Swindon. Twins Cameron and Grant Bartlett both made a big impact, racking up big points numbers - Cameron topping the goal scoring chart with 4 and one assist, while Grant scored a brace with four assists. It was Cameron who took the early lead in the PIMs table, notching up 4 PIMs to Grant's 2. Add a pair of goals from fans favourite Ross Brears and one each from new lad Ricky Mills and another fans favourite, and Riverside Zamboni driver, Darren Brown. But it was new import Filip Supa that impressed, having a dream debut for the team scoring a hat-trick and adding 3 assists to boot.
In contrast, Mustangs will be coming into tonight's game off the back of a narrow 4-3 victory over Swindon at Gillingham last night, that being their first win from four games this season, having allowed 6 goals in their three losses so far. While the stats look promising for Chieftains, Mustangs will be full of confidence after last night's win. The only knockback to that confidence will be the knowledge that in Swindon's three games so far this season, Mustangs are the only team who haven't racked up double figures against the Wiltshire side.
With stats like these, and with home ice advantage, Chieftains will fancy their chances tonight. While we wouldn't want to jinx things, we'd have predict a home win at Riverside tonight, although we do think it'll be a close run game.
1 October 2017
In a lunch time face off in Chelmsford, home team Cobras got their Women’s Premier league season under way, welcoming Bracknell Fire Bees to a chilly Riverside. With the Fire Bees having been promoted from the National Division 1, this was surely going to be a test of their mettle.
Referee Nick Stephenson, no doubt hoping from a better reception from the home fans than he got at the MisChiefs game a week earlier, dropped the puck and both teams made tentative adventures into the attacking zone, although neither goalie was tested too much. As the period progressed both teams managed to apply some pressure but it was the visitors who drew first blood just under eight minutes in when Milan Giorgi fired a wicked slap shot on Cobras goalie Cherry Hambleton, which forced a huge rebound and gifted Louise Beresford with an almost open goal to tap the puck into. Less than five minutes later Charlotte Ahmed had tied the game up, thanks to a sweet pass from behind the goal by Terezka Plankova. The period ended as it began with both teams venturing into the zone but neither able to convert.
The second period started much more sprightly for the home side as they tested Meryia Throop over and over, the pressure paying off as a fluffed clearance fell to the stick of the debuting Ellie Wakeling at the top of the slot who picked her spot and gave Cobras the go-ahead goal just under five minutes into the period. 1:15 later and this time it was Ahmed setting up Plankova to double the lead. With the bit between their teeth Cobras rained shots on Throop until an eagle eyed Stephenson spotted Cobras with an extra player on the ice. So much for the fans thinking he’d worn out the pea in his whistle last weekend! With Bracknell unable to set up the powerplay, Cobras easily killed it off and had by far the best chances.
Ellie Wakeling making her dream debut
Czech Republic born Terezka Plankova logged her first PIMs of the season after being called for hooking just past the halfway mark, Cobras killing the penalty again. Bracknell's best chance of the period coming as the penalty ended with the Fire Bees shooting the puck in and a Cobras player throwing out a skate to stop it, inadvertently sending the puck in on goal and forcing a spectacular save from Hambleton. With just less than three minutes of the period remaining, Plankova was in the thick of it again as she set up Captain Jennifer Bolton to send the Cobras into the second intermission with a 4-1 lead.
Cobras saved the best for last as they really stepped up a gear in the third period, Terezka Plankova taking just 1:19 to fire home unassisted. 3½ minutes later Lucy Jarvis got on the board, with a helper from Tara North. Just when it was looking like there was no way back for Fire Bees, Milan Giorgi punted a shot on goal that seemed to catch Cherry Hambleton unaware and after a little juggling the puck hit the ice and just about bobbled over the line, reducing Cobras lead to five. A nasty collision in the hash marks to the left of Hambleton’s goal saw Zara Schott almost impaled on her own stick, breaking it clean in half in the process and leaving her have to be helped from the ice. What followed from there was, from a home fan’s point of view, spectacular. Within 5:06 Cobras scored no less than 6 further goals. The five goal lead was restored at 52:59 as Wakeling, with an almost carbon copy of her first goal, doubled her tally. A high sticks penalty on Lucy Jarvis less than a minute later seemed to make it all come unravelled for Bracknell as Abbie Sylvester went on one of her many adventures coast to coast and scored short handed 1:10 into the penalty. And just 40 seconds later Jenny Bolton skated in on Throop and turned the Bees goalie inside out and scored, also short handed, with assists going to Sam Noble and Abbie Sylvester. The penalty killed, Cobras piled on more pressure which paid off with Plankova and Ahmed combining once again to give Ahmed her second goal of the game. Less than two minutes later and the dream debut for Ellie Wakeling was complete as she scored her hat trick - all her goals coming unassisted. Just 11 seconds later Jenny Bolton added to Fire Bees misery by picking up a hat trick of her own, with an assist going to Ahmed.
You can’t fault Fire Bees effort here, they put up a really good fight for 2½ periods, but in the last 10 minutes Cobras just found another gear and there was absolutely nothing the visitors could do about it. With four players racking up multiple goals, including (if her Elite Prospects profile is correct) a 15 year old Ellie Wakeling making her debut in the WPL, as long as the team stay healthy and consistent, you have to fancy them for bettering their second place of last season. And while they may, at times, miss Beth Hill, going off today’s performance Cobras have more than enough in their arsenal to compensate. And you’d have to expect Abbie Sylvester to be picked for Team GB again as once she get’s the puck on her stick she never stops going forward. It was only some great goaltending that kept Sylvester down to one goal today.
Players of the game awards went, deservingly so, to Fire Bees netminder Meryia Throop, for facing 46 shots, and to Cobras new girl Ellie Wakeling for an outstanding dream debut.
Next game for Cobras is away to Kingston Diamonds on 15 October.
29 September 2017
This weekend sees NIHL S2 (The Wilkinson) finally get into full swing as the two teams yet to play have their season openers. For Swindon Wildcats, they start their campaign on Saturday with a trip to Ally Pally to take on 2nd placed Haringey Huskies.
While the all conquering Chieftains have to wait until Sunday and a trip to Swindon to get their season out of the starting blocks. Chieftains, who bolstered their squad by announcing the return of Danny Wright and TJ Fillery Thursday lunch time - just three days before their season opener - will be wanting to make up ground on the early leaders.
Ahead of Sunday’s match, head coach Ben Clements says “Wrighty's signing is massive for the team going forward and now means we are back up to six D men ahead of our first game this Sunday. I know he is keen to get back into playing as much as he can and with his years of experience he will be a great addition to the team this season
“Terry came to me in the summer while still out injured expressing a willing to play for the Chieftains and I have to say straight away I liked his attitude and was keen to see him on the ice. Having been training with us for the last few weeks I've been really impressed with him and I believe he will push the guys in the team for ice time this season.”
While at Riverside for the MisChiefs play-off game, we had a little chin wag with Zamboni driver and Chieftain forward Darren Brown who said that after the ups and downs of the league restructuring it was good to get back on the ice and train. He also said that the team were now just itching to get going with the season. And with a the mix of experience and youth the Essex team is sporting, they will certainly be expecting a result. Although, with no history between the clubs save for the EPL/NIHL crossover cup a few years ago, the D2 ‘Cats are an unknown force for Chieftains.
Elsewhere in The Wilkinson, Lee Valley Lions welcome Guildford Phoenix, both of whom have yet to score any points, likewise with the match in Hampshire between Basingstoke Buffalo and Invicta Mustangs. Last season’s champions, Peterborough will host Solent Devils - both having won what few games they’ve played. And Oxford City Stars, who dropped points in spectacular fashion last Saturday to Bracknell, will host Slough Jets - who are coming into the tie having lost both their games so far. With early league toppers Bracknell having a much deserved weekend off after their sprightly start, anything other than a regulation time loss will see them go top of the league
While the action will be all go in The Wilkinson, our focus this weekend will be on Ladies Day at Riverside as last season’s WPL Runners Up, Chelmsford Cobras, get their 2017/18 season under way with a visit from newly promoted Bracknell Fire Bees. You have to go back to the 2014/15 season for the last game between these two teams, that season Cobras taking the tie 2-0, winning 6-5 at Riverside and 5-2 at The Hive.
Having reversed their fortunes from wooden spoon winners in 2015/16, Cobras took the league all the way to the last game of the season, losing out on the silverware and promotion to Streatham Storm by just three points. Things will be a tad different for Cobras this season, however, as they have lost the services of Team GB starlet Beth Hill, who has now passed the age limit to play on a two-way contract and has decided to play for Guildford Lightning. Coming up from the juniors, however, is rising starlet Ellie Wakeling, who will also be playing for Bracknell and Chelmsford U18s. While Cobras are likely to miss Beth's rocket propelled skates and her ability to skip and dance her way through a defence, they have retained the services of Abbie Sylvester, who will once again be playing on a two-way deal with Bracknell Queen Bees. The 17 year old forward looked really impressive last season, and racked up 16 goals and 9 assists between the two clubs. Last season she also iced in NIHL S2 for Chelmsford Warriors and was selected for both Team GB U18s and Team GB seniors.
Team Captain Karen Law spoke to us saying: “We are really looking forward to the new season after what feels like a very long summer break! We want to improve on last seasons performance and have been working hard both on and off the ice in preparation. We are lucky to have both George Alley of Lee Valley Lions and Jacob Ranson of Streatham coaching us again this season. We are looking forward to playing Swindon again this season following their relegation from WEL. We have always found them to be challenging but enjoyable team to play against.
“We have a new signing this year in Ellie Wakeling who is now old enough to play for us. She will also be playing for Bracknell and Chelmsford U18's. Sadly we have to say goodbye to Beth Hill this season as she is now too old to register on a 2 way and will instead be playing at Guildford. She will be missed enormously on and off the ice, but you may notice that we no longer all smell of coconut as we skate past!” (We always wondered what that was! - Ed)
Karen continues “Next weekend we have our first game against the newly promoted Bracknell Firebees. I'm gutted that I will be missing the game as I had to postpone a holiday because of Hurricane Irma so I will now be in Florida visiting my husband who is detached out there for 6 months with the RAF. I'll be willing the team on from across the pond and looking forward to my first game of the season away at Hull on 15 October. It will be really important for the team to get a good result against Bracknell as preparation for the games to follow.”
On the season ahead, sports reporter, Streatham Redhawks player and Cobras Assistant Coach Jacob Ransom said “We have a small roster this season, but if we work as hard as we did last season and improve at the same level, then I’m confident we can have another successful season.”
Alternate Captain Jen Bolton also had a few words to say: “I am really excited for the new season to commence this Sunday after the Summer break! Finishing runners up last year was a great achievement for us and we are looking to build on this in the coming season.
“The Premier League is an exciting league to be a part of, historically all the teams are close in standard and each game extremely competitive. I think this bodes for a great season! I was sorry to hear of Slough dropping out of the league as they always proved to be tough competition and are a long running successful women’s team. Hopefully, they will be able to rebuild and be back for next season! Unfortunately, this means we have one less team in the league and two less games than we should so we may book in a couple of challenge games to fill in the gap.”
Finally, head coach George Alley told us “Last season we definitely exceeded a lot of people's expectations, and I think we can be a competitive side again this year. We've set ourselves a high standard that we'll want to try and match.
"The competition, particularly for playoff spots, will definitely be a lot tougher. I think every team in the league is capable of getting in the top 4 if they have a full compliment of players. We're at our best when we're out working other teams. I think that's where we'll be most successful.”
Certainly a juicy looking match from our point of view and I think we’re looking forward to it as much as the teams. Face off at Riverside is 12:20pm, and entry is free - if you need a hockey fix then this will be the place to be. If you can’t make it then we will be tweeting the action as it happens. Follow us on twitter www.twitter.com/icecoldphotos
We’d like to take this opportunity to extend a huge thank you to George Alley, Jacob Ranson, Karen Law, and Jennifer Bolton of Chelmsford Cobras for their contribution.
25 September 2017
As the NIHL season is just starting to get under way, in Chelmsford the Access Group Challenge season was about to reach it’s finale as home team MisChiefs took on Milton Keynes Bolts in the second leg of the play-off final Sunday evening.
Having come away from Milton Keynes late on Friday night with a slender 3-2 lead, MisChiefs were keen to get the job finished in the return leg at Riverside. To help them along the way, the team heavily publicised the game on social media and with flyers around the City - a tactic that paid dividends as an unprecedented 200+ fans reportedly piled into the rink.
Things started on a positive note for MisChiefs as just 47 seconds in Fitzgerald laid on a bodycheck that saw him parked in the bin for two minutes. MisChiefs came close to capitalising but Cassidy, who could’ve been mistaken for being a basketball player, was equal to all the home side threw at him. Fitzgerald went from villain to hero for the Bolts, however, when he came back onto the ice and set up Jacobson who beat Jess Bowman just after the 3 minute mark. MisChiefs then felt the wrath of referee Nick Stephenson, taking four penalties in the space of ten minutes, leaving them unable to get any real offence going. They paid the price when just after the quarter of an hour mark Haynes doubled the lead on the night, giving MK the go-ahead goal on aggregate, the period ending with the visitors on the better end of a 2-0 scoreline.
Things started well for MisChiefs in the second period as it was MK’s turn to fall foul of Stephenson, first Haynes taking a body checking penalty with Obukhov following him to the box for slashing just a minute later. Unfortunately, Cassidy was once again able to frustrate the MisChiefs powerplay as they were unable to convert the 5 on 3. Feeling frustrated, MisChiefs looked disorganised as Bolts kept them penned into their own zone, Bowman being called upon time after time. Bolts Hall and MisChiefs Kirby were both sent to the bin for coincidental roughing penalties, the former getting an extra two minutes for holding after Jess Bowman earlier been run over gave MisChiefs the break they needed with just under five minutes left on the period and Child unassisted converted on the Powerplay, tying up the match on aggregate.
Just over four minutes into the third period, some pushing and shoving in front of Cassidy saw a mini brawl break out with plenty of handbags being thrown between the opposing sides, and a bewildered Nick Stephenson left looking as though he was clueless - though if you ask some of the home fans that’s exactly what they’d thought all night. With Phillips and James for MisChiefs and Fitzgerald for Bolts getting ejected from the game for the fisticuffs, MK went on a massive five minute powerplay. MisChiefs got in the passing lanes and cleared the puck and looked dangerous on the shorthanded attack as they denied every attempt by Bolts to convert. In the end it was the home side who broke the tie, Jamie O’Dell getting the go-ahead goal with a little over five minutes of regulation time remaining. With the score on the night at 2-2 and the aggregate of 5-4 in favour of MisChiefs, MK pulled Cassidy in favour of a sixth skater with just a minute of the game remaining. Unable to clear the puck, the gamble paid off as Jacobson scored his second of the night to send the tie to sudden death 3 on 3 overtime.
With lots of empty ice available, the overtime period began with end to end hockey, both teams having chances - although MisChiefs looked to be getting the better of the visitors when 1:43 into the period Price took a body checking penalty giving the hosts a 4 on 3 advantage. Despite MisChiefs laying siege to Cassidy’s goal, Bolts somehow managed to kill the penalty but just 16 seconds after MK returned to full strength, Child became the hero of the night for the home side as he went one on one with Cassidy, leaving the goalie sprawling across the ice in front of his crease, and the puck skidding into the back of the net to give Chelmsford MisChiefs a 6-5 aggregate victory, and the play-off title to add to their league title.
On Saturday we travelled, once again, to Bracknell to watch the resident Hornets take on Oxford City Stars at The Hive:
"Two of the most fancied sides in the NIHL2 came head to head this weekend it what was billed as a four pointer in only the 3rd week of the season, and it certainly didn't disappoint.
The game started as expected in a fast, furious way with a significant decision going against the visitors in just the 2nd minute, when the stars Darren Elliott received a 5 + game penalty for kneeing the in form Steve Fisher resulting in the former Streatham forward being assisted off the ice, thankfully returning a short time later.
From then on it was an end to end game and it was the away side who took the lead before MOM Will Stead evened things up on 12 minutes, the period was filled with minor penalties and it was the Hornets who sat 5 of the 7 called in the first, this allowed Florey (Jake) to score on the PP only for S.Fisher to level things at 2-2 at the first buzzer.
The second continued in the same manor and was very much 'you have a go' 'we'll have a go' when Stars Stewart Tait was called for slashing it took just seconds for Scarbrough to put the home side in front with Stars MOM Kinkor replying for the visitors soon after. The home side took the lead making it 4-3 through S.Fisher, then former BIHC junior Ikin equalising on 27.19 (4-4) this still left time for Stead to grab his second 10 minutes later and help the Hornets take a single goal lead into the final period (5-4)
Just a few minutes Into the 3rd saw Ikin & Stead take a seat after fisticuffs due to a X-check from the Stars youngster, the Hornets then came out buzzing scoring 3 PP goals in four minutes through Ealey-Newman (Ben), Tarczycki & Scarbrough, making it 8-4 to the home side, much to ever growing crowds delight. The Stars gave themselves half a chance in getting back into the game with a well worked finish from Oliver making it 8-5 with 4 minutes to play, until an absolute screamer from Harvey Hind-Pitcher from just inside the blue line past Ronai (who replaced Duffy between the pipes on 49 minutes) all but ended the tie at 9-5, yet another minor penalty for hooking on the home side allowed the Stars to grab a sixth with Lawday's second ending the game 9-6.
In what was a feisty game throughout, it's pleasing to say that the handshakes and smiles all round were pleasing to see and showed the respect between these two top sides.
Score : 9-6
SOG: 47(H) 41(Ox)
PIMs: 24(H) 51(Ox)
NMs: Sanderson 41(6) 85.37% Duffy 40(8) 80.00% Ronai 7(1) 85.71%"
Match report written by and used with the kind permission of Justin Wilson of Bracknell Hornets, and is the copyright of the author.
After the game we spoke to Hornets Player/Coach Danny Hughes to get his reaction to the game.
"Last week’s game was a massive test for the Hornets, It was great to see so many people at The Hive and the atmosphere was great. A lot of people would have been looking at the result as we and the Stars were sitting top of the table. We knew the game was going to be a tough one. Kenny (Redmond) has put a good team together at Oxford and he will have them well drilled. I feel a lot of pressure has been lifted off my shoulders after the win.
Hornets player/coach Danny Hughes
"The game started off even on both side and was close in the 1st and 2nd period but the 3rd took its toll on Oxford and we took off. Penalties definitely killed both teams in the game. For the Hornets we have scored 30 goals in 3 games which is great and it proves we have the fire power up front, and I am really happy with all my lines at the moment. They have bonded well and you can see it but we just need to work on a few things.
"I Believe we have conceded 10 goals which I am not happy with and its down to silly lazy penalties and our defensive zone coverage that is letting us down at the moment. We have very strong defence and goaltending this season but forwards do need to come back and support them and we will concede less goals in a game. We have everything on paper but we need to bring it all together from defence to forwards and when we get this straightened out I believe we have a good shot at the title. It's good that its this early in the season and I know what we have to work on so we can only get stronger.
"I am really looking forward to the Next game against the Huskies, who are sitting 2nd in the league at present, as we have worked on a lot in training this week so we will see if it pays off."
It may still be early in the season, possibly too early to tell, but winning against Oxford was a big scalp to claim and must send a message to the rest of the league that Bracknell Hornets are certainly not the underdogs this season.
23 September 2017
Our game last weekend between Bracknell Hornets and Basingstoke Buffalo certainly turned out to be a game worth watching, and worth battling the torrential rain and the M25 for. Thanks to the great British weather and the worlds largest car park, we didn't make it to The Hive until half an hour after face off, meaning we arrived with just 4 minutes of the 1st period remaining. At that time Bracknell were 2-1 up. Praying we hadn't missed all the goals, we set in to watch and were treated to two quick goals before the end of the period - one at each end. By the end of the game, Bracknell had rallied to a massive 10-3 victory over the Buffalo, proving that coach Danny Hughes had, as everybody had suspected during the summer, built a pretty decent team. That was further proven the following night when Hornets travelled to Lee Valley to take on the Lions, a game in which they ran away with the game again - taking the spoils by a massive 11-1 scoreline. Having watch the Berkshire team struggle as underdogs for the last few seasons, it was refreshing to see them being competative. Watching as an impartial fan on Saturday, it was clear the training had paid off as the team gelled on the ice. While former Streatham players Steven Fisher and Sean Scarborough had an almost telepathic connection, racking up 15 points between them over the weekend, and both scoring a hat trick on Sunday.
Since Chieftains still have another fortnight before they begin their league campaign, we will once again be doing battle with the M25 and heading to Royal Berkshire to watch the Hornets take on Oxford City Stars. Stars, who also managed to stack the numbers last weekend scoring 7 goals both nights will surely be more of a test for the revamped hornets. While Oxford's squad is relatively unchanged from last season, they have added former Chieftains defender Alex Staples and import Kamil Kinkor, both of whom mananged to light the light last weekend. All in all, we expect this to be a hum dinger of a game.
On Sunday evening, we'll be taking a step back from NIHL action as we head to Riverside to watch recreational team Chelmsford MisChiefs take on Milton Keynes Bolts in the Access Group Challenge League play-off final. MisChiefs, who won their summer league, bring back a slender 3-2 lead from the first leg late on Friday night and will hope to add the play-off trophy to their league.
We will be at both games tweeting all the action as it happens, follow us at twitter.com/icecoldphotos (@icecoldphotos)
16 September 2017
Some folks might have noticed it's been a bit quiet around Ice Cold Photography HQ these last few weeks. Well, to be honest, it has been quiet. And there are reasons for that. For a start, there's really not much been going on for us to report on to be honest. With the exception of Chieftains announcing the departure of Matt France a few days ago due to unforseen work commitments, the end of the off season has been pretty quiet. We also took the opportunity to have our summer holiday in America over the last two and a half weeks too - so be warned, we may break out the holiday photos without warning! But.....now we're back. We've spent the last couple of days dusting down the keyboard and sweeping away the gathering tumbleweed. We're also on the lookout for more subjects to subject to one of our interviews so....look out people, we might be coming to get you!
The summer is officially over and it's down to business. Hockey season technically began last week for NIHL S2 teams with Bristol Pitbulls edging out Slough Jets 5-4 at their temporary home in Oxford, while Basingstoke Buffalo rode out 6-3 winners on the night against the newly formed Haringey Huskies, only to have the game awarded to the Huskies due to Buffalo icing a suspended player.
So, looking ahead to this weekend, 6 games in the Wilkinson this weekend, four on Saturday and two more on Sunday. Invicta Mustangs welcome Peterborough Phantoms (last season's NIHL S2 champs Peterborough Islanders rebranded) to Gillingham. In Surrey, new outfit, and baby brother of Elite League Guildford Flames, the Guildford Phoenix face off for the first time ever against a strong looking Oxford City Stars. At Ally Pally, there's a London derby as the Haringey Huskies attempt to take an early points lead over the rest of the table as the take on Lee Valley Lions. Finally, for Saturday, our game of the weekend is at The Hive as Bracknell Hornets take on Basingstoke Buffalo. Hornets' player/coach Danny Hughes has been making some big signings during the off season and he looks to have built himself a strong team. With the likes of Jack Tarzycki, Sean Scarbrough, and Will Sanderson among others joining from last season's Streatham team and the addition of former Bracknell Bee and Chelmsford Chieftain Carl Graham on the blue line as well as old favourites Harvey Hind-Pitcher and brothers Ben & Josh Ealey-Newman, we think that Hornets will be a force to be reckoned with this season, placing top four and possibly challenging for the title. While Basingstoke Buffalo are, for us, an unknown force, I do think it's safe to say they're not going to let Bracknell have things their own way. They do appear to have a fair bit of fire power at their disposal, and they have a good, dependable goalie in Aaron Craft. They'll also be wanting to make amends for last weekends costly mistake and take some points back to Hampshire. A thrilling encounter is expected, and we'll be there with all the action. Follow us on twitter @icecoldphotos for updates as they happen. And if you're there, come and say hello. Any coffees or hot chocolates bought for us will be gratefully accepted as Hornets have posted on social media that The Hive is going to be more of an igloo. Wrap up warm folks.
Just two games on Sunday as Bracknell travel to Lee Valley to take on the Lions, In Oxford what could be considered either a bit of in-fighting or even a derby as they're currently sharing the rink, sees Bristol Pitbulls travel (?) to Oxford City Stars.
20 August 2017
The moment every ice hockey fan has been waiting all summer for finally arrived at 6pm today. After weeks up upheaval, lots of finger tapping and, we're sure, many headaches for the League Management Commitee, the fixtures for the NIHL South Division 2 were released by the teams in the competition. Chelmsford Chieftains, like all the other teams, published their fixture list to their social media outlets, to mixed reaction from fans, the general concensus being that it was good to have hockey back, with a few fans showing dismay and disappointment at the lack of games.
21 July 2017
You may have noticed that we've been quiet of late, and you may also have noticed some sublte changes to the website. Hence the reason for our quietness - we've been doing some actual work on the website. But, rest assured, we've not just been sitting back and relaxing the whole time. There are other things to come for the website in the near future that we're hoping to bring you. Unfortunately, as we've been busy doing other things, we have missed a couple of things that have come and gone, so we'll give you a quick update.
The summer continues in earnest in the Chieftains camp, with last season's Captain, Anthony Leone announced as Player/Assistant Coach earlier this month, a move which delighted fans of the Black And Gold. Signing for his third straight season for Chieftains, Leone said: "I’m really looking forward to this season especially with my new role helping Ben out on the coaching side plus I still get to be out on ice with team which was a big reason why I came back as I still feel I have a lot to offer on ice as well as off it”. We're also sure that this signing means the other fans favourite, Anthony's young son, will also be taking to the ice for warm up sessions.
Fans would have noticed a couple of weeks ago that there was a call to arms from Chieftains for accommodation for an import. Naturally, that started a frenzy of speculation that if they're looking for accommodation then a signing must be imminent. Today, they were rewarded with the news that 28 year old Slovakian forward Filip Supa. Whilst he's no stranger to NIHL hockey, this will be Filip's first season in the South, having spent the last four seasons with Widnes Wild and Deeside Dragons up in the North. His Elite Prospects profile details his 140 goals and 85 assists in his four years in the UK. Speaking about his signing, Filip said: "I'm very excited to play for the Chieftains this season. I can't wait to meet and get going with my new teammates. I've heard only good things about the south league, so I'm really looking forward to play in it especially in front of the Chelmsford fans."
Head Coach Clemma said of his latest signings “Bringing Leone back this season was key for me and now, after he agreed to become Assistant Player Coach, things have just got better. Having someone of his hockey experience around the team will be great for the boys and will definitely help me out too. He will have a big role to play this season and I'm looking forward to working with him and getting the best we can out of this team. I'm really pleased to have signed Filip for this coming season. I believe that he will help give us the edge over the other teams in the league. Having spoken to few people who know him he's a quick skater with a great eye for goal which gives us more attacking options going forward. I know he's really looking forward to challenge of playing in the south for the Chieftains."
We would like to welcome Filip to the Chieftains, and wish them both the best of luck for the season ahead.
Away from Chieftains, and on a darker side of the UK game, we are sad to hear of the demise of Womens Premier League team Slough Phantoms. In a statement on their facebook page, the team said: "It is with great sadness and emotion that we have to announce that Slough Phantoms will be folding as a club. A number of reasons have caused this but ultimately maintaining a regular pool of players with limited resources and increasing costs is unsustainable.
We have had some amazing moments; European Cup Championships in Bolzano, Cergy & Riga, winning the double more than once, completing the treble and having numerous players representing GB and national hockey. We welcomed all and maintained a fun, friendly and hockey-for-hockey atmosphere which will be missed by many."
So, as another UK ice hockey team bids farewell to us all, we can only hope, and pray, that the reformat of the NIHL will be a successful one. We are considered a minority sport as it is and media exposure is, at best dismal. And, while the Elite League teams are able to plough thousands upon thousands of pounds on advertising and big name players who are, essentially, NHL has-beens, rejects, wannabes or never were's thus luring in the big sponsorship deals to fund the frivolous ways, the teams in the lower tiers who grow and nurture home talent and who rely on volunteers week in week out to keep the team and the league running are left to scrap for every piece of available media coverage and every penny of sponsorship they can get. We hope that it won't be too long before Slough have another women's team back in the WPL.
That's it for now, we hope you like the new look website, keep checking back for more updates and content as we get it.
1 July 2017
It started as a quiet week for Chieftains and Coach Clema, with just a couple of signings anounced on Monday. Then, in the second half of the week things really got busy. At about 11:30 Wednesday night, while most sensible people were sound in slumber, Chieftains were busy releasing the news of their latest additions.
Welcome to the fold 17 year old Ethan Boolkah, and a new face at Riverside in the form of Rob Veares.
Ethan is another graduate of Chelmford Ice Hockey Academy, who has risen through the ranks of the Tomahawks and the Mohawks, and making appearances for the Warriors during the last two seasons. On his call up to his first full season of senior hockey, Ethan said "I really enjoyed playing with Warriors the last couple of seasons. When Ben suggested I be part of the new team he is putting together, I jumped at the chance to play alongside and learn from the more seasoned Chieftains."
Rob Veares, on the other hand, is a product of the former Romford junior system, climing through the ranks until the closure of Romford Valley Way, at which point he joined Haringey Racers for two seasons. He returned to the Raiders organisation for a season in 2015/16, playing for London Raiders before returning to Haringey last season. Speaking on the team's Facebook page, the 26 year old 5'8" defender says: " I’m looking forward to joining Chelmsford and playing within this strong and talented team. I have played against Chelmsford for many years and they've always provided a tough competition - I'm hoping to help keep it that way! The club has a great following of fans that I'm looking forward to playing for. I'm excited about the changes within the league structure, with the addition of new opposition and I’m ready for a successful season."
As if that wasn't enough, Clements also kept the midnight oil burning the following night announcing another pair Warriors, this time in the form of Ricky Mills and Sean Martin.
At 31 years of age, Mills is no stranger to the Chelmsford organisation, again progressing through the junior system whilst making some appearances for Chieftains in their EPL days, before going off to ply his trade with Romford in 2006/07. In the 2009/10 season, he returned to Chelmsford, spending the next three seasons with the Warriors. In 2013/14 he signed for Haringey Racers before once again returning to Warriors last season. When asked about his new role in the Chieftains, Ricky says: “I was planning on retiring from hockey at the end of last season to spend more quality time with my family, but when Clema approached me about signing for the chieftains at NIHL2 level, I couldn't turn down the opportunity of playing for the Chiefs again - especially with some players I started my hockey career with well over a decade ago! I'm also hoping to pass some of my many years of experience onto the younger players throughout the season. Hockey has been a big part of my life for a very, very long time and I couldn't think of anything better than spending what could be my last year with some great hockey players."
Meanwhile, Sean Martin's response to his signing was: "Wow what an honour it is to pull on the black and gold again this season and ice for the Chieftains. It was a no brainer when Ben called me to talk about next season. I Caught myself thinking back to the season we went unbeaten which was the last time I played for the Chieftains. How amazing would that be if we could do that again, with the team Ben's put together so far it's defo a possibility. Second thought was better hit the gym and get ready to add to the Chelmsford silverware." Yet another graduate of Chelmsfords outstanding academy, 31 year old Sean has also been around spreading the love of the worlds fastest team sport, with spells at Swindon, Bracknell, Oxford, Romford and Haringey to add to the many stints at Riverside.
With over 570 league and cup appearances between them, there's a lot of experience in Ricky and Sean to pass on to the younger players who are making the leap into senior hockey for the first time this season.
And before the dust could settle on the news of Ricky Mills and Sean Martin, Coach Ben was up bright and early Friday morning with news of what were arguably the most eagerly awaited and rumoured signings of the off season so far. After 10 years in Chelmsford, it was widely rumoured they would go elsewhere after the drop to Division 2, but it was revealed in the team's announcement on Friday morning that 23 year old twins Cameron and Grant Bartlett would not only be making their return to Chieftains for 2017/18, but were actually the first two players signed to the team. Cameron states: “I can’t wait to play again and September can’t come soon enough. Since the decision to join NIHL 2 we’ve had offers to play at the so called ‘higher level’ but it’s not what I want and I’m sure that goes for Grant as well. I enjoy playing at Chelmsford so why change it? This level of hockey suits my lifestyle as away from the ice work is flat out at the moment." While Grant adds “Like Cam, I’m looking forward to the new season. We’ve had a great run at Chelmsford and they do say all good things must come to an end. But this is not the end it is simply the beginning again. I’m looking forward to playing alongside some of the new guys as the older ones were getting to be a little boring sometimes…joke. I’m sure It’s going to be a fun year and I’m looking forward to challenge for more silverware."
Following his monster week of signings, Chieftains Head Coach, Ben Clements, had this to say on his handiwork: "Ethan is a young and enthusiastic defender who will be playing in his first full senior season having played up form the U18s last year, so this will be a great chance for him to develop his game even more, especially with the help of some of the more experienced guys in the team.
"Good defenseman are hard to come by in this league, so to be able to sign Rob this season is a massive boost for the team. Rob is your typical stay at home defender who won't shy away from getting stuck in in the corners. I'm really looking forward to seeing him in a Chieftains jersey
"Sean is the type of player most guys hate playing against as he just won't stop skating and chasing down loose pucks which, for a coach, is great to have a player like that on the team. I know he can't wait to get going and help the team win more silverware.
"This isn't the first time Millsy has played for the Chieftains and I know he's looking forward to the challenge this coming season. He is a smart player and reads the game well especially helping back in the defensive zone but he will also chip in with the goals too which is going to be key this season as I want all 3 lines contributing.
Being able to keep both Cam and Grant is massive for us this season, especially when I know they both had other offers on the table. But once we spoke, both guys made it clear they wanted to play for Chelmsford and help the team get back to where we belong. Both guys had great seasons last season finishing in the top 10 points and I'm going to be looking for them to continue in this fashion this season coming especially now when they will be two of the top senior guys in the team”
With 16 players now signed for Chieftains, Ben's rebuilding task is almost complete, and the training for the new campaign will shortly begin in preperation for what is, going off the strength of players being signed by other Division 2 teams, shaping up to be one of the most competative seasons we have ever seen in NIHL hockey. Just like the players, we are looking forward to the new season, to welcoming the new team to the ice, to cheering on the Black and Gold. While we love the Summer, for us September just can't come soon enough now.
26 June 2017
Two More Sign On The Dotted Line
After a quiet weekend, Ben Clements continues his team building anew with another pair of announcements this evening.
As has been in keeping with all the previous signings, both players will be no strangers to regulars at Riverside having both played for Warriors last season.
Having spent all his playing career at Chelmsford, beginning with the 2000/01 season for the Tomahawks, progressing through the Mohawks and Warriors, and even pulling on a Chieftains shirt in the 2008/09 season, 30 year old defence man Gary Brown joins the team after spending the last eight season at the Warriors, while notching up an impressive 195 points in his career. Speaking about his signing, Gary, who is the older brother of Chieftains regular Darren Brown, says: “Having played for Chelmsford since I started playing hockey 23 years ago, I was worried that last season would be my last after receiving the news about the Warriors. Then I got a call from Ben asking me to play for him and the Chieftains, so after 10 great years of playing Warriors I get to put on a Chieftains shirt again. I am honoured and excited to make this my 24th year to play for Chelmsford."
The second signing of the night comes in the form of 23 year old forward Tom Wilson, who comes to Chieftains after playing the last 6 seasons for the Warriors. Having been Warriors top scorer last season, racking up 15 goals and 6 assists in 17 appearances, we think he's going to cause Chieftains opponents more than a few problems in front of goal. In Chieftains statement, Tom says: “There have been a lot of changes to the league this year with new teams joining etc., and it is a great opportunity of which I am looking forward to for the season to come. Ben is a great goalie and has a lot of experience in the game so, of course when I received the call it was a yes to being part of what he is building this year and I'm looking forward to see what the new adventure brings to Chelmsford. After playing for the Warriors for a number of seasons now it is exciting to be putting on a Chieftains shirt and playing for the rest of the team and the fans."
Speaking about his latest aquisitions, Coach Clema commented: “Having grown up playing with Gary through the Chelmsford juniors, I'm really looking forward to having him back in the team this season. He reads the game really well at the back and if need be can play as forward too. It will be great having a player of his experience around the team especially for the younger guys in the room. “Tom is a big strong forward with a great shot on him and will cause all sorts of problems for other defenders. He finished top goal scorer for the warriors last season so I will be looking for him to continue being a threat around the net”.
Gary and Tom join Darren Brown, Matt France, Donald Campbell, Ross Brears, Will Polston, Elliot Dervish, Sonny Phillips and Billy Cook in what is already looking to be an impressive team in the making for Ben Clements and the Chelmsford Chieftains.
You can read the full statement on Chieftains Facebook page HERE
23 June 2017
Clements Signs Shot Stoppers
When the bad guy's forwards make it past the Blue Line Patrol, they're the last line of defence. Sometimes, they're the game savers. Good ones are a critical part of building a new team. Some may even say that they're quite insane. They are.....The Goalies! And if there's one thing Coach Clemma knows about, it's goalies. As with previous announcements from Head Coach Ben Clements, Chieftains announce a pair.
First up, after getting his first full senior season with Chieftains in 2016/17, Sonny Phillips stood tall and proved himself time and time again between the pipes. At just 20 years old, Phillips will play his second season as a Chieftain, this time as the team's starting goalie. Speaking about the signing, Ben says: “The moment I got the job as head coach I knew I wanted Sonny as my number 1 goalie. Having played together last season I know exactly what I'm getting with Sonny and I'm sure he's going to go from strength to strength between the pipes this season”. Delighted with his appointment, the fans favourite stated: “I'm so glad to be returning to Chelmsford this season after hearing Ben's plan for the team and me. I can't wait to get going come September. With the changes to the league it's not going to be easy but I will do my best to help this team win some more silverware."
With the solid defence in front, it's going to be a hard enough task as it is for opponents to get to Sonny's goal, but with a save percentage of 92.7% last season, getting to the goal and getting the puck into it are going to be two completely different things.
Of course, every starting goalie needs an understudy, and Sonny is no different. This coming season, that task goes to last season's Warriors #1, Billy Cook. A youngster just starting out in his career, he takes a well deserved leap into senior hockey for Chieftains. But at just 16 years of age, coach Ben Clements has a lot of confidence in the signing. In the team's press release he comments: “It's great having him sign for the team this season especially knowing how hard he's work to get where he is in hockey but this is just the start and I'm going to be looking for him to push Sonny in training and games." While Billy remarked: “It's a great feeling to be part of what I think is a strong and passionate team. Wearing a Chieftains shirt will definitely be something to remember, as it was one of my aspirations coming up through the Academy and it feels amazing for the opportunity to come up. I have great confidence in Ben being our coach as he's helped me to where I am now and he knows what he is doing. When I was offered the position to play, I knew there was only one answer. This is definitely going to be a step up in my career and I look forward to the coming seasons and being part of a team that can produce results”.
Although considered a back up, Billy's stats are nothing to be sniffed at either with a save percentage of 89.6% in 12 games for Warriors last term. We think that Billy may well give Sonny a run for his money for starting rights this season.
You can read Chieftains full press realease on their Facebook page HERE
So Coach Clemma's team building machine goes marching on at break neck speed, we can only wonder who is going to come next, and when. We don't think it'll be long before we have some more to report on.
22 June 2017
Two More Sign Up For Chieftains
Hot on the heels of our interview with Chieftains Head Coach, Ben Clements, yet another announcement of signings was made on the team's facebook page. And, once again, it was a pair of faces that are familiar at Riverside.
First up is a 32 year old, 6'3" veteran defender. Having been released by Chieftains mid way through the 2015/16 season to make way for the Phillips brothers, Matt France makes his return to Chelmsford. On signing France, Coach Clema states: “I've know Matt for a very long time and I know he will want to prove a few people wrong this coming season, and I'm glad he's chosen Chelmsford to do so. He has a great eye for goal from the blue line as well as making that killer pass to start an attack from the defensive zone”. Speaking to the Chieftains Media team, Matt said: “After getting the call from Ben it was kind of hard to say no. He might be an inexperienced coach but he's been around ice hockey and part of winning teams for a long time, so he has that winning mentality. He has played under some good coaches so hopefully that will rub off on him and I’m sure the whole team will work hard and make it an easy transition from playing to coaching. I'm happy to be part of the team again pulling on the jersey, back at the club I started. After talking with Ben and listening to what his plans for the team were I was happy to sign, and can't wait for the season to start and be part of hopefully a successful season. It’s always an honour to play for the Chieftains and hopefully we can give the fans something to celebrate and get excited about."
With a chap this size patrolling the blue line, we think it's going to be a mighty tough job for any opponent who has aspirations of heading for the Chieftains goal this coming season.
The second player announced last night is, as in keeping with previous announcements by the team, also no stranger to the Black And Gold, having played the last two seasons with the Warriors.
18 year old Donald Campbell, also a defender, trained with Chieftains last season and makes his debut for the team this term. Clements says: “Donald was training with the Chieftains last season and I have to say I was impressed with him and work effect and he definitely didn't look out of place. I'm looking forward to working with Donald this season and giving him a chance to grow as a player." Reported as being over the moon to get the call up, Campbell stated: “I was inspired to play hockey after watching the Chieftains over 12 years ago, and I have been playing at Chelmsford all my junior career. After spending the last two years playing for the Warriors I was getting closer to playing for the team I once supported, so I was more than pleased to hear that Ben wanted me to take the ice for the Chieftains this year. After my success in both junior and senior leagues over the past years, I hope to continue this success with the Chieftains this year. As one of the younger players I hope to encourage younger fans to take up hockey at Chelmsford and also learn from the more experienced players or even teach them some new tricks”.
If Donald's name seems familiar to Chieftains fans, you may well remember him icing for "Team Stripes" as a linesman in last season's playoffs.
Welcome to the Chieftains, Donald, we look forward to taking lots of photos of you come game night.
20 June 2017
More Good News For Chieftains Fans
Another announcement on Chelmsford Chieftains Facebook page by Head Coach Ben Clements this evening is sure to please even the most disheartened of Chieftains fans. Coming just four days since the veteran goalie announced the signings of Ross Brears and Will Polston, tonights offerings will be equally welcome additions to the 2017/18 squad. And, as before, the signings are no strangers to the Black And Gold.
In the team's statement, Clements says “Ever since the Chieftains first dropped down from the EPL, he has been a massive part of the team, his work rate is second to none. At times he might of been seen as underrated but he's definitely going to be one of the go to guys this season”. Chieftains fans will be delighted to welcome back Darren Brown. When asked about re-signing for Chieftains, the 26 year old Chelmsford native, who has been a regular in the team since 2008, said: “I was planning on retiring from hockey. But with the team dropping down I felt I still had a bit left to give. With fewer games I should be at home more for my family which is a bonus. So when I got the call saying Clemma was going to be coach, it gave me an easy decision to make. I’m sure Clemma is the right man for the job and I’m very much looking forward to getting my skates on for some pre-season training ahead of what is sure to be an exciting season."
Second up in tonights announcements is a 22 year old forward who has also arrived at Chieftains through the Chelmsford Academy. A regular in the Warriors line up since the 2013/14 season, Elliot Dervish has amassed 86 goals since joining the Chelmsford Apaches in the England Under 16 League in 2007/08, and racking up 41 total points in 61 games for the Warriors.
“Elliot is another one of last season's Warriors who's looking to continue to improve his game. I'm really glad he has decided to do that with the Chieftains” said Clements. “He has a great attitude towards the game and I know he can't wait to get started and play in front of the Chelmsford fans”.
On his signing, Chieftains newest recruit said: “Ever since I was 9 I've been playing at Chelmsford and I have never wanted that to change, so as soon as I got the call from Clema I knew exactly what I was going to say. I was given the chance to play some Chieftains games when I was in my first few years of Warriors, so to finally make the jump for this coming season is a real privilege. It's going to be a challenging season with the new league structure but the way the team is shaping up and the excellent fan base behind us, I think we are in for a great shot at some silverware”.
With a few quiet weeks behind us, it seems Coach Clements has now started to bang the war drums of NIHL S2 and sent out a warning to the other teams that Chieftains mean business.
The statement on Chieftains Facebook page can be found HERE
16 June 2017
Chieftains Finally Make Some Signings
Hot on the heels of Chelmsford Chieftains announcing the signing of a new new Head Coach, Ben Clements, the team building has begun in earnest. The first two players to wear a Chieftains shirt for the 2017/18 season were announced on the team's Facebook page earlier tonight. Both players are no strangers to Riverside, and one will be very familiar to Chieftains fans indeed.
First up was former Chieftain forward Ross Brears, who was released by the club at the end of the 2015/16 season and then went to play on the 2016/17 season for Chelmsford Warriors. Racking up a whopping 639 points in 439 appearances over his 13 year career, all at Chelmsford, Ross will be a very welcome signing for fans. In Chieftains statement, 25 year old Brears says: “It's been a hard time for the club the past few months and I am really happy to be part of the team to take the first steps in the prospect of lifting more trophies. Having Ben as coach is going to be an exciting experience as he was a great goalie and understands the game thoroughly. He is also about bringing through new talent into the team which at this point rebuilding a new team for years to come is a massive priority that Chelmsford need to address. It's going to be a nice feeling putting back on a Chieftains shirt and I really look forward to playing with the team and for you fans once again”.
The second player to pull on a Chieftains shirt in September, while new to Chieftains, is also no stranger to Chelmsford. Having been Warriors Captain for the last six seasons, 28 year old Will Polston will be patrolling the blue line. With 215 appearances, Will has totalled 57 points. When asked about his signing Will explained ”When I got a call from the newly appointed coach explaining he wanted me to sign for the Chieftains this coming season, I agreed in an instant. Having been involved with the Warriors since it's first season 10 years ago, and had the honour of being captain for the Warriors for the last 6 seasons, I hope to add some experience to the youngsters making the transition to senior hockey both on and off the ice as well as playing alongside some great talent that I grew up playing with and against. Signing for the Chieftains this season is a great way to celebrate the 20th year since I started playing and I look forward to providing an exciting, competitive and engaging season for the fans of Chelmsford ice hockey".
Speaking about his signings, Chieftains Head Coach Ben Clements said: "It's great to have Brearsy back with the Chieftains this season. He was actually the first guy I called once I knew I had job of rebuilding the team. He plays hard every shift at both ends of the ice and will chip in with the points as well. He is the type of player every coach would want in their team.
"I’m really pleased to have Will on board this season, he is a great guy to have around the team and always plays 110%. He has been Captain of the Warriors for the last 6 seasons so I will be looking for him to bring that leadership into this Chieftains team”.
NIHL League, Playoff, and Cup Format Confirmed By EIHA
Yesterday, the EIHA confirmed the format for the whole NIHL competitions for the 2017/18 season. League formats for all divisions were announced previously, with the format of the playoffs and cup competitions being finalised this week.
Playoffs for Division 1 will see the top 8 teams from the division facing off in home and away games over three weekends to decide North and South champions, culminating in a Grand Final weekend featuring two teams each from the North and South to crown an overall National Champion.
Division 2 will see a slightly different format for the playoffs, due to a different number of teams in the North and South. In the North, the top FOUR teams will face off over one weekend to decide their Champion, while down South the top EIGHT of the 14 teams will play two-legged Quarter Finals before the final four take part in a playoff weekend to decide a Champion.
Division 1 will have two cup competitions. There will be a National Cup featuring 12 of the Division 1 teams from both North and South. This will start with four groups playing to a knockout stage. The groups, however, seem to bunch all the former EPL teams together while all the previous NIHL teams are also bunched together. While this may seem (and has been slated as such by many on social media) boring as the same teams are meeting over and over, it looks to us as though it's designed that way to manufacture EPL v NIHL at the knockout stage. Whether this is a good thing or not remains to be seen.
There will also be an Autumn cup for NIHL teams to take part in, however it appears that only the former EPL teams have been selected to take part in this competition, which will be played and decided by early December.
It was also announced that there would be no cup competitions for Division 2 teams in either region.
It was also announced that at the end of the season there would be automatic one up/one down promotion/relegation between the divisions. There is to be an exception to this at the end of the 2017/18 season that will see no relegation from Divison 1 in the South to allow the division to return to 10 teams.
The full statement from the EIHA can be read HERE.
it's fair to say that the reception on social media by fans has been less than enthusiastic. Many people have seen the announcement as a missed opportunity, while others have called it a "cop-out" and a "shambles" Some have even gone as far as to speculate that with teams playing each other so many times that it could have seriously detrimental effect on crowd numbers. Again, only time will tell whether this will be the case or not. That said, looking at the Autumn Cup and the National Cup, it does appear that there is a bias towards the former EPL teams, grouping them together in the National Cup and giving them their very own cup to contend. While, it appears, the NIHL clubs appear to get very little out of it. Yes, the Division 1 teams (or at least some of them) get to compete in the National Cup against each other with a lucky one or two going up against a former EPL team against which they are likely to get a good thrashing. There was a clear opportunity there to give the NIHL teams from both divisions and regions their own inter-division cup competition. An opportunity that was sadly missed.
One of the most vocal reactions to the statement was by Legendary player, journalist, and self confessed whiner, David Carr, who took to his column in Pro Hockey News to vent his displeasure at the direction the EIHA and LMC have taken with the new league format. You can read his article HERE.
I guess all we can do now is sit and wait until September when the season begins, get behind our teams and see what happens.