Captain Cook makes the Pirates walk the plank!










BELLE  VUE  ACES  51 -39  POOLE PIRATES 

Belle Vue produced a stunning display to thrash the reigning league champions in the Poole Pirates on Monday night, to see the Aces remain unbeaten at home in the league and end the 100% record of the Dorset side beating them 51-39.

  A late surge of heat advantages towards the end of the meeting proved the difference and saw Craig Cook ride a Captain`s meeting as the Cumbrian rider scored a paid maximum of 13+2 in the victory.

 Poole were missing their reserve pairing of Kyle Newman and Lee Smart but drafted in former Belle Vue Colt Charles Wright, as well as Oliver Greenwood to help the Pirates. The league champions also had the services of former World Champion Chris Holder in the line up as he took the place of ‘Injured’ Darcy Ward, with his fellow Countryman from Down under is riding for the Pirates as a 28 day injury cover.

Belle Vue came into this meeting on the back of a sensational last heat draw down at Wolverhampton last Tuesday night as Scott Nicholls and Matej Zagar secured two points which included an extra bonus point too, So this match was seen as an indicator to whether the Aces would be challenging for honours in the season as they faced the league champions, in a stern test.

The opening heat saw a stunning 5-1 for the home side as Aces GP star Matej Zagar and Michael Palm Toft, managed to keep Chris Holder behind them as well as fellow Australian Josh Grajczonek, who finished in last place and saw the young Aussie on fire after this heat. 
  Charles Wright and Oliver Greenwood then helped the Pirates cut the lead to just two points, when the young Stockport rider got away with a quick start from the tapes after it looked like he anticipated the tapes a tad early from the human eye, but the referee let it go on and saw Wright pick up the race win for a 4-2 to the away side.
This meeting was very much a sea-saw battle between the sides with them trading heat wins and didn`t include a single drawn heat throughout the meeting.
  Craig Cook got his night off to a flyer when he took the spoils in heat 3, when he left Przemyslaw Pawlicki trailing in his wake as he was unable to catch the Cumbrian rider, while Scott Nicholls claimed third place for a 4-2 heat victory to the Aces.
  Josh Grajczonek then came to the party after his disappointing last place in the opening outing, with him out gating Richie Worrall too see him fly round his old stomping ground with Poole a touch fortunate to score a 4-2 advantage, with Stefan Nielsen looking on course to finish in third place and see a share of the heat. Unfortunately though Nielsen, his bike packed up on the last bend to see Oliver Greenwood nearly collide with the Aces man as he went him to steal a point as the Pirates plunder a 4-2.
Heat 5 saw the pairing of Matej Zagar and Craig Cook cruised to victory over the Polish duo of Pawlicki and Vaclac Milik as they left them for dead too see the Belle Vue pair secure a 5-1 over them.
  Heat 6 saw the lead stretched a bit more when Scott Nicholls beat Chris Holder, after the Poole number one got up the inside of Worrall to see him move into second place. 
  That saw the score then move on to 22-14 for the hosts, with the meeting then entering a Purple patch for the Pirates as they recorded four consecutive heat wins over the Aces to see them lead 31-29 after Heat 10, to see the Dorset side move ahead for the first time in the meeting.
Heat 10 saw Zagar showing off his ‘never say die’ attitude to the cause when he chased the Polish duo down on every lap but was struggling to find a way round the pairing. As the race headed to it`s conclusion, Zagar then raced with Janowski to the line and pinched second place and that kick started the comeback for the home side.
  Scott Nicholls and Craig Cook shown the former World Champion Chris Holder the quickest way round the ‘Kirky Lane’ circuit, with them both powering to the front and scored a big heat win which saw Cook on his way to a paid maximum. 
  Poole responded in the next race seeing them draw level at 36-36 after 12 races gone in the meeting. Josh Grajczonek and Oliver Greenwood then scored a 4-2 to put the visitors still in the hunt of claiming a point from the meeting and perhaps even more.
Matej Zagar BATTLES Janowski 

However the remaining three races saw the Aces take Maximum points in all of them, as Zagar rode a superb inside line to come up on the inside of Janowski which saw him join Cook at the front. Heat 14 saw Milik then fall off on the second bend to see the race stopped and had the referee award the race to the hosts making it 46-38 to Belle Vue and saw them needing to avoid a heat loss to secure the full 3 points in the meeting.
  Heat 15 saw Slovenian rider Matej Zagar once again showing his racing talents off when he battled once more into second place, as he got the better of Grajczonek before going to the boards to stop the momentum of the Aussie star. That then saw Zagar and Cook ride away for a 5-1 maximum to see Craig Cook pick up a paid maximum and a massive confidence booster for the rest of the season for the young British rider and one he can now build on.
Zagar in RED HELMET gets ahead of Grajxzonek

Belle Vue took the full three points on offer in the meeting, as they won 51-39 and seen the Pirates sail away empty handed as the Aces trumped their opponents in those final three races to see the Manchester outfit move onto 11 league points level with Wolves and Coventry. 

  The Aces next meeting is a return fixture from a couple of weeks back as they travel to Leicester to face the Lions at Beaumount Park on Saturday Evening.




BELLE VUE ACES : 51

Matej Zagar    12+2
Michael Palm Toft     4+1
Scott Nicholls    9
Richie Worrall     6
Craig Cook   13+2
Stefan Nielsen     7+1
Ben Reade   0
POOLE PIRATES : 39
Chris Holder     4
Josh Grajczonek     8
Przemslaw Pawlicki    9
Vaclac  Milik     3
Macej Janowski    2
Charles Wright      8
Oliver Greenwood     5

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Aces hold off late Wolves fightback to seal win

 

BELLE VUE ACES 50 – 39 WOLVERHAMPTON WOLVES 



Scott Nicholls helped his new side continue their winning start at home in the Elite League this season as the Belle Vue Aces beat the Wolverhampton Wolves in the traditional Good Friday fixture between the two sides seeing of the West Midlands side 50-39. 
Wolves had already won away from home in these opening weeks of the Elite League season, when they beat Belle Vue`s visitors to ‘Kirky Lane’ last Monday Night, in the Leicester Lions winning 46-44 at Beaumount Park back in march.
The Wolves boasted also the new World Champion in their side and despite him not being 100%, Tai Woffinden still gave the Manchester club a hard time in the meeting along with American Ricky Wells.

Belle Vue were looking to make it two wins in a week at home, after they picked up a comfortable victory in their home opener this past Monday night beating the Leicester Lions 56 – 35.  Despite the Aces doing down last Wednesday night to a strong Kings Lynn side 52 – 38, Belle Vue know that a strong home record is important this season in the league.



 Though looking back on this meeting, it was one where Belle Vue nearly let the win slip through their hands when in a very commanding position, but also it was also case of the Wolves being made to pay the price for failing to make their Tactical rides count, with Tai Woffinden and Piotr Pawlicki both falling off in their respective double points races. It also saw the away side claim only three heat advantages in the whole match whilst also seeing the Wolves side have more last place finishes in the meeting than that of the Aces.

In the first race of the afternoon on what was a sizzling day in Manchester, it saw the World Champion Tai Woffinden proving too hot to handle for Matej Zagar, as the Slovenian GP star chased Woffinden for the whole 4 laps but just wasn`t able to get by the Wolves man with Woffinden holding a tight line on the Belle Vue circuit for the win.
Meanwhile Michael Palm Toft had his own battle with Jacob Thorssell to claim the final point and keep third place for a share of the points as the race saw two races in one.
Stefan Nielsen for the second meeting running at home saw him come under the challenge from Tom Perry, who was guesting for the West Midlands side in the meeting and saw him battle for first place with Nielsen, before Perry bit the dust and slid into the first bend and saw Belle Vue record a 4-2 heat advantage with the referee awarding the race with the crash bring a stop to the race.

Richie Worrall holds off Wolves Pair on way to a 5-1


Scott Nicholls and Craig Cook registered a 5-1 maximum in heat 3 for the home side, before Richie Worrall and Nielsen scored a 4-2 to increase lead and then saw Cook at it again soon after with the maximum`s, with him and Matej Zagar getting another 5-1 one to see the Aces lead 21-9 after five races gone.
Heat 6 saw the Wolves team manager Peter Adams pinning his hopes on Tai Woffinden for a Tactical ride, to help see if the visitors could reduce the deficit being opened up by the home side as he went for double points .
 Things didn`t go as the Wolves planned, with Woffinden hitting the deck in the same place Perry fell off in a previous race, to see the double points he was going for blow up in the face of the away side.
In the re-run of the heat it saw Scott Nicholls take the race win as his partner Richie Worrall fell off spectacularly on his own, before picking himself up and pushing his bike off the track with the a 3-2 race win for the Aces as Piotr Pawlicki took second place.

Tai Woffinden (Yellow) gates ahead of  Riders in heat 6


Ricky Wells then made amends for finishing last in his previous outing, with the American popping out of gate and leaving the rest of the riders to literally eat his dust with the track kicking up a lot of dust, due to the hot weather and saw the visitors picking up their first heat advantage of the match, thanks to Tom Perry finishing behind Palm Toft for a 4-2 to the Wolves.
However their comeback was shortlived, as in the next race Scott Nicholls and Richie Worrall combined for some superb team riding to score a 5-1, which saw the duo puttingthe Aces 31-16 up at the midway stage and seen the home side pulling away further from their opponents in the match.



Stefan Nielsen then won the second reserve race of the meeting, with Perry once again chasing the Dane at the front of the race which saw a share of the spoils for a 3-3.
In Heat 10 Zagar and Palm Toft scored another 4-2 heat victory and saw the Aces lead move to 17 points after Piotr Pawlicki who took the final tactical ride for the Wolves side, saw the Pole hit the fence coming off the second bend and so Belle Vue riders compound the misery on their foes.
However after the interval, the Wolverhampton side had obviously been read the riot act by the Wolves boss Peter Adams and saw them improve scoring two 5-1`s with Woffinden and Wells, who were the strongest pairing for the away side in the match. They beat Nicholls and Cook to reduce the deficit to 13 points, with Wolves duo of Jacob Thorssell and Tom Perry continue the Wolverhampton fight back with another 5-1 to make it 40-31 after 12 heats.

Matej Zagar lead into first bend in HEAT 13 

Heat 13 saw Matej Zagar then stop the run of heat advantages to the away side with the Slovenian beating Woffinden and Pawlicki for a 3-3 race and with another shared race in the penultimate one of the meeting, it saw Wolverhampton down by 9 points knowing that a heat advantage would see them steal a point from a contest from which they were down and out of at one point.
The final race between the sides, saw Ricky Wells and Tai Woffinden come out for Wolverhampton, while Belle Vue manager Jason Attwood made the decision to pick Scott Nicholls and the surprising choice of Richie Worrall in the last race.

 

Both Aces got out of the gate together on a 5-1, but through the dusty conditions Woffinden saw a gap and took Worrall on the inside of the second lap to come through into second place, with Nicholls pulling away and saw him take the Aces home to victory with a 4-2 race win that meant Belle Vue kept their 100% record
alive at home going. Though wasn`t without a late scare by Wolves towards the end of the meeting and sees a possible backlash next Tuesday night, when the sides meet again at Monmore Green in the live televised meeting or the return match.  

Belle Vue Aces :: 50


1. Matej Zagar — 2,2′,3,3 = 10+1
2. Michael Palm Toft — 1′,2,1,1 = 5+1
3. Scott Nicholls — 3,3,2′,1,3 = 12+1
4. Richie Worrall — 3,F,3,2,1 = 9
5. Craig Cook — 2′,3,Fx,R = 5+1
6. Stefan Nielsen — 3,1,3,0,1′ = 8+1
7. Ben Reade — 1,0,0 = 1



Wolverhampton Wolves :: 39


1. Tai Woffinden — 3,Fx,2′,2,2 = 9+1
2. Jacob Thorssell — 0,2,0,2′ = 4+1
3. Ty Proctor — 0,1,1,2 = 4
4. Ricky Wells — 0,3,3,3,0 = 9
5. Piotr Pawlicki — 1,2,FX!,1′ = 4+1
6. Ashley Morris — 2,0,1′ = 3+1
7. Tom Perry (G) — Fx,1,2,3,R = 6


ht 13 Zagar beats World Champion https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42xcNike_B8

GIANT win for Manchester sees them thrash Raiders in Playoff Push

 
 

 

MANCHESTER GIANTS     99 – 80   PLYMOUTH RAIDERS

 

Manchester took a ‘Giant’ step towards claiming one of the two Playoff  berths up for grabs with a thrashing of the Plymouth Raiders 99-80 at home at the Wright Robinson Sports College on Sunday evening and sees them  a victory short of qualifying for the playoffs in only their second year back in the big time. 
Manchester found themselves behind early on in the game with the Raiders making their baskets count with the Giants not being able to contain them on either defence or offence, with them struggling to grab any rebounds that were loose and also saw them unable to get any baskets either with the Raiders in control at first.
The home side were trailing by five points in this potentially deciding game as to whom would have a greater chance of claiming a playoff spot. Manchester head-coach Jeff Jones then called a timeout to try and settle his men down in this important ball game and after that the home side pulled to within two points of the visitors thanks to a Yorick Williams three-pointer that saw the Giants back in the game.
Plymouth came right back at the home side through Former Giants man Nick George and Donald Robinson as the Raiders pair was scoring with ease at times with them putting the visitors back ahead by seven points, midway through the first quarter.
Manchester was really struggling with their rebounding on both ends of the court still and saw Plymouth being much quicker to getting to the loose ball. Manchester came back once more with David Watts leading the charge as Watts grabbed a defensive rebound and saw him the range to hit a three and saw the Giants beginning to find their shooting boots, with Williams and Watts finding a couple of three-pointers for the home side to see them claw their way back. Stefan Gill then stole the ball from Nick George at mid court to see Rob Marsden finish the play off with a basket to tie the game all up at 21 all.
Gill then grabbed a defensive rebound before finding the basket himself seconds later, to put the home side up by two points and with the quarter coming to an end, the Giants led at the first quarter 26-21.
Plymouth then fought back once more in the Seconnd period as they took a one point lead through Gabe Haskins three pointer, to see them lead 29-28 towards the midway mark of the quarter and saw the sides trade the lead a couple of times until James Jones nailed a three point basket and from that point onwards, Manchester never looked in trouble.

James Jones finds the basket in 99-80 win:    Picture: JackHindsPhotography

With the half time hooter fast approaching, the Giants built up a five point to take into the Half time break at 45-40 with the home side upping the work rate now on both ends of the court to see the Raiders side struggling to keep up with Manchester side now. 
The start of the Second half saw the Plymouth Raiders claw the five points back, with Nick George hitting a three point basket to level the game up at 45 a piece. From then on it was the Giants for the rest of the game with Callum Jones scoring both free throws and with Rob Marsden adding a basket for the hosts too, Yorick Williams netted yet another three point basket as it saw Manchester in the ascendency and pulling away from their rivals in the hunt for a playoff spot.
With Manchester controlling and bossing the game from now, it saw them running up a lead of eleven points after Stefan Gill drained a three pointer to see the home crowd on their feet as they witnessing their team, beginning to dismantle a very handy Plymouth side in front of their very eyes.
Gill himself then made two free throws to put the Giants up by thirteen as he increased the lead shortly after to fifthteen points , with David Watts grabbing a defensive rebound and then hitting a long range basket to see them running away with the game as the lead ballooned to eighteen points at 75-57, with just under a minute of play in the Third quarter.
Manchester started the Final quarter off, boasting a massive lead of twenty points and saw the Plymouth side on the verge of being embarrassed by their hosts.
James Jones sank another three points to put the home side enjoying a lead of twenty-five points with the Raiders finding the Giants too hot to handle and all but out of the contest now, but they did managed to reduce the gap as best they could, which saw them trailing 84-67 with just over five minutes of play to go in the match.
Manchester continued to pile on the points on the scoreboard and saw Anthony Purcell another home grown player from the Manchester area, send his three point effort sailing into the basket and had the Giants bench up on their feet to celebrate the basket and shown the togetherness within the squad and saw them have one foot tentatively in the Playoffs, knowing one more win either over the Sheffield Sharks or the London Lions, will all but guarantee their place in the post season playoffs.

BBL Championship 2013-14

 

TEAM P W L PTS
ESH GROUP EAGLES NEWCASTLE 33 28 5 56
WORCESTER WOLVES 30 25 5 50
ONE HEALTH SHARKS SHEFFIELD 30 24 6 48
LEICESTER RIDERS 33 23 10 46
CHESHIRE PHOENIX 32 18 14 36
LONDON LIONS 31 16 15 32
PLYMOUTH UNIVERSITY RAIDERS 31 13 18 26
MANCHESTER GIANTS 31 13 18 26
DURHAM WILDCATS 31 12 19 24
GLASGOW ROCKS 31 12 19 24
SURREY UNITED 31 4 27 8
BIRMINGHAM KNIGHTS 32 0 32 0

Aces new boys on top form as Belle Vue thrash Lions



BELLE    VUE     ACES      56 – 35    LEICESTER   LIONS 

Belle Vue Aces got their Elite League speedway season off and running with a big home win over new boys to the Elite League this year in the Leicester Lions, the Aces thrashed the East Midland side 56-35 at Kirkmanshulme Lane with the whole team chipping in and saw a fair few impressive debuts for some too.
The meeting saw Belle Vue hand Five home debuts in the match, with the new reserve pairing for the Aces in Ben Reade and Danish youngster Stefan Nielsen who were both making their first appearance on the Manchester track along with Michael Palm Toft and two British riders who have ridden at Belle Vue before, in Aces asset Richie Worrall after the rising star in british speedway made a successful loan spell at Kings Lynn Knights last season.
The remaining rider to make his full Aces debut, was that of former Coventry Bees rider and Seven times British Champion in Scott Nicholls, as Nicholls has always ridden the Kirky lane circuit well over the years.

Matej Zagar and Craig Cook were the only two remaining survivors of last year`s team and with the visit of an experienced looking Leicester side, it did look like a the making of a very stern test for the Manchester club, with some of them having good experiences at Belle Vue track in the past and had the home side with three riders who had never ridden the Belle Vue track in their short careers.
Leicester`s Jason Doyle took the honours in the opening race of the 2014 season at Kirkmanshulme lane, with the Australian getting the better of Aces number one rider in Matej Zagar and new boy Michael Palm Toft, to see a share of the opening heat at 3-3.

Stefan Nielsen shown his liking early on to towards his new track, when he won the reserves race beating off Tom Perry challenge from the Lions with Nielsen`s team mate Ben Reade securing third place to see the Aces take a 4-2 heat win and lead 7-5 after two races.
Former Ace Patrick Hougaard then lowered the colours of Scott Nicholls and Craig Cook in heat 3, as the Dane blasted out from the gate to take the win holding off Nicholls to claim another shared heat.

Heat 4 then saw a bizarre chain of events happening from the tapes going up, Stefan Nielsen saw his chain snap on the line and took a hefty whack to the back leg, which saw him then push the bike off the track and then collapse on  the centre green clutching the back of his leg in agony.
Meanwhile, Peter Ljung fell off on the second bend and so saw the race being rerun with just Richie Worrall and Max Clegg in a match race, to which Worrall took the win.

Doyle leads Aces from gate


Belle Vue edged ahead more with a 5-1 from last year’s riders Matej Zagar and Craig Cook getting a maximum, before the homes side increased it even more with a 4-2 as Scott Nicholls took the chequered flag for a 22-13 lead.
Heat 8 saw Nicholls and Worrall grab a 5-1 along with Stefan Nielsen and Ben Reade getting in on the act soon after with a 4-2 to help see the Aces dominating their opponents and pull clear away.

Leicester played their first tactical of the match with them nominating Mads Korneliussen to go for double points, but saw Belle Vue restrict the damage to a 4-4 as Matej Zagar passed Korneliussen and had team mate Michael Palm Toft finish in third making it a shared heat with the Leicester man in second.
In the very next heat Nicholls and Cook banged in another 5-1 for the home side to and saw the Lions final tactical come to nothing as the score went to 43-24 after 11 races.

Heat 12 and the wins kept coming for the home side, with the Danish duo of Palm Toft and Nielsen both impressing on home their respective home debuts for the Aces as they scored a 5-1, which was then followed up in the next heat with a 4-2 courtesy of Zagar and Cook to see the score line move to 52-27 and was becoming a massacre now.
Leicester then managed to score their only heat advantage of the night through Simon Stead and Tom Perry combining for a 5-1 to give small section of Lions supporters on the top bend something to cheer about,

Belle Vue Aces got their Elite League speedway season off and running with a big home win over new boys to the Elite League this year in the Leicester Lions, the Aces thrashed the East Midlanders 56-35 at Kirkmanshulme Lane with the whole team chipping in and saw a fair few impressive debuts for some too.

The meeting saw Belle Vue hand Five home debuts in the match, with the new reserve pairing for the Aces in Ben Reade and Danish youngster Stefan Nielsen who were both making their first appearance on the Manchester track along with Michael Palm Toft and two British riders who have ridden at Belle Vue before, in Aces asset Richie Worrall after the rising star in british speedway made a successful loan spell at Kings Lynn Knights last season.
The remaining rider to make his full Aces debut, was that of former Coventry Bees rider and Seven times British Champion in Scott Nicholls, as Nicholls has always ridden the Kirky lane circuit well over the years.

Nicholls and Cook fly away on 5-1

Matej Zagar and Craig Cook were the only two remaining survivors of last year`s team and with the visit of an experienced looking Leicester side, it did look like a the making of a very stern test for the Manchester club, with some of them having good experiences at Belle Vue track in the past and had the home side with three riders who had never ridden the Belle Vue track in their short careers.
Leicester`s Jason Doyle took the honours in the opening race of the 2014 season at Kirkmanshulme lane, with the Australian getting the better of Aces number one rider in Matej Zagar and new boy Michael Palm Toft, to see a share of the opening heat at 3-3.

Stefan Nielsen shown his liking early on to towards his new track, when he won the reserves race beating off Tom Perry challenge from the Lions with Nielsen`s team mate Ben Reade securing third place to see the Aces take a 4-2 heat win and lead 7-5 after two races.
Former Ace Patrick Hougaard then lowered the colours of Scott Nicholls and Craig Cook in heat 3, as the Dane blasted out from the gate to take the win holding off Nicholls to claim another shared heat.

Heat 4 then saw a bizarre chain of events happening from the tapes going up, Stefan Nielsen saw his chain snap on the line and took a hefty whack to the back leg, which saw him then push the bike off the track and then collapse on  the centre green clutching the back of his leg in agony.
Meanwhile, Peter Ljung fell off on the second bend and so saw the race being rerun with just Richie Worrall and Max Clegg in a match race, to which Worrall took the win.

Belle Vue edged ahead more with a 5-1 from last year’s riders Matej Zagar and Craig Cook getting a maximum, before the homes side increased it even more with a 4-2 as Scott Nicholls took the chequered flag for a 22-13 lead.
Heat 8 saw Nicholls and Worrall grab a 5-1 along with Stefan Nielsen and Ben Reade getting in on the act soon after with a 4-2 to help see the Aces dominating their opponents and pull clear away.

Leicester played their first tactical of the match with them nominating Mads Korneliussen to go for double points, but saw Belle Vue restrict the damage to a 4-4 as Matej Zagar passed Korneliussen and had team mate Michael Palm Toft finish in third making it a shared heat with the Leicester man in second.
In the very next heat Nicholls and Cook banged in another 5-1 for the home side to and saw the Lions final tactical come to nothing as the score went to 43-24 after 11 races.

Heat 12 and the wins kept coming for the home side, with the Danish duo of Palm Toft and Nielsen both impressing on home their respective home debuts for the Aces as they scored a 5-1, which was then followed up in the next heat with a 4-2 courtesy of Zagar and Cook to see the score line move to 52-27 and was becoming a massacre now.
Leicester then managed to score their only heat advantage of the night through Simon Stead and Tom Perry combining for a 5-1 to give small section of Lions supporters on the top bend something to cheer about, after Richie Worrall had been excluded in the first attempt of running it, after he was Squeezed out by his team mate Reade and slid towards the fence.

Belle Vue had already sewn up the three points by the time the final heat had come around and so with the points staying in Manchester, it saw Jason Doyle replicating what he did in the opening win as he picked up the win beating off Craig Cook and Scott Nicholls to see a 3-3 and bring the final score of 56-35 to the Belle Vue Aces and sees Jason Attwood`s men now travelling to King Lynn on Wednesday, before their traditional Good Friday meeting at home against the Wolverhampton Wolves  led by the World Champion in Tai Woffinden.

 

 

Belle Vue:

Matej Zagar 10
Michael Palm Toft 7+1
Scott Nicholls 11+2
Richie Worrall 7
Craig Cook 9+2
Stefan Nielsen 8+1
Ben Reade 4+1



Leicester:


Jason Doyle 11
Peter Ljung 1
Mads Korneliussen 6
Simon Stead 6
Patrick Hougaard 3
Tom Perry 6+1
Max Clegg 2



EPL PLAYOFFS Semi Finals: Phoenix edge Cats / Bison Trample Guildford






EPL PLAYOFFS SEMI FINAL ROUND UP:

 

 


This past weekend saw the climax to the 2013-14 English Premier League Ice Hockey season with the Final Four being the Swindon Wildcats, Guildford Flames the EPL Cup winning Basingstoke Bison and the EPL League Champions the Manchester Phoenix battling it out to become the EPL Playoff champions.


 

 

1st Semi Final: 

 Manchester Phoenix   4  – 3  Swindon Wildcats OT

The First game of the EPL Playoffs weekend saw the League Champions defending their Playoff crown they won last year against the 5th placed Swindon Wildcats. Manchester over the course of the season saw them boast a 5-1 record over their opponents from Wiltshire, with Swindon getting the better of the Phoenix in the last meeting beating the sides with a 2-0 victory at the Link Centre in Swindon.
From the opening puck drop, Swindon took the game to the League Champions as they bossed the first period of play with Manchester not at the races what so ever, with as Steve Fone standing up well to everything that the newly confidence boosted Wildcats threw at the Phoenix Goaltender.
Manchester took time to get going in the game and in the opening twenty minutes of play, it saw the Phoenix battle back in the contest as they were in danger of being over- run by the much more intense side led by Ryan Aldridge, with the Wildcats by far the better side.
It saw the designated ‘Home team’ the Manchester Phoenix take the lead very much against the run of play, with Swindon the much more dangerous side in the game at that point but Manchester aren`t champions for no reason and saw them take the lead through Andy McKinney at 8-55 with Michal Psurny and Tony Hand assisting on the goal.
It looked only a matter of time before the Wildcats would net past the desperate defending by the short benched Phoenix and so it proved to be. Swindon replied a couple of minutes later on a powerplay with James Archer sat in the penalty box for a debatable Boarding call it has to be said and saw Sam Smith getting by the last man to flick it in over Fone for a lovely goal to make it 1-1 at 11-12.
Second period saw the play more even between the sides with both teams carving out chances and saw both Steve`s in Lyle and Fone coming up big to deny the other side from taking the lead in the tense opening semi final match up.
Frantisek Bakrlik then headed to the penalty box for a Roughing call made by Hogarth and from it saw Manchester once again unable to hold out the Cats powerplay unit and saw Aaron Nell put the Wildcats up 2-1 at 28-34 with Jonas Hoog and Jan Kostal assisting.
That then saw the lead evaporate 1-07 seconds later, when Michal Psurny took hold of possession and then slalomed his way through the Swindon defence before coolly slotting past Lyle to see the Czech forward score one of the best goals over the weekend at 30-41.
Swindon however restored their lead less than a minute later, when Jonas Hoog put the puck in the back of the net with Fone stranded and saw not for the time this season, the back post wide post in the Phoenix defence and Hoog fired for a 3-2 lead to see Swindon take a lead heading into the Third period.
Manchester then upped their game more in the Third, with them having to try and find an equaliser in game and had twenty minutes to find one. It didn`t get off to the best of starts as Bakrlik found himself back in the penalty box for a Cross Checking call this time at 40-56 and Manchester`s push for a goal came as they scored the tying goal at 48-02, thanks to Andy McKinney netting his 2nd goal of the game to see it levelled at 3-3 and all to play for.
This then saw the game become stretched and had the game become end to end with the other trying to find the winning goal in the game, but saw the defensive and goaltenders on top.
With neither side able to find the winner in Sixty minutes of play, we then headed to overtime in this tightly poised contest and in the overtime period saw Swindon get called with a penalty that drew protests from the men in Red uniforms, with Aku Pekkarinen getting called for a Hooking penalty at 62-32.
It then saw the game come to a close, when a powerplay unit that wasn`t firing at all in the whole game then came up big, when Tony Hand moved the puck across to Frankie Bakrlik and he blasted one home for the game winner in overtime to see the Phoenix progress to the final and saw Swindon extremely disgruntled with the decision which led to the penalty awarded. It also saw during the handshakes, four players get Game Misconducts with Alex Symonds, Sam Smith, Jonas Hoog and Aku Pekkarinen all for Abuse of Official at 63-59.

Man of the Match:

Phoenix: James Archer     Wildcats: Alex Symonds

 

 

 

Semi Final 2:  Basingstoke Bison  5-2 Guildford Flames

In the Evening game it pitted the EPL Cup holders the Basingstoke Bison against the Guildford Flames and much like the First semi finalists, it saw the Cup holders have a the upper hand on their opponent in the head to head, with the Bison winning all but two of the games over the Flames and saw the winner meeting the Phoenix in the EPL Playoff Final.
The opening stages saw both teams come out hard and aggressive and was played like a good old fashioned blood and guts type playoff game, the kind you expect between two rivals who had battled hard over the season.
Guildford was the side doing most of the pressing in the opening exchanges with Dean Skinns much like he has done this year for the Herd, standing on his head and keeping the Flames at bay as he snuffed out any Guildford opportunities in the period.
Slovakian forward Martin Opatovsky then headed to the penalty box for Cross Checking to put the Bison on a powerplay and from it saw Tomas Karpov net a powerplay goal  with Andrew Melachrino assisting at 11-50 to put the Bison 1-0 in the game.
Guildford struck back soon after though through Swedish forward Marcus Kristoffersson, with the Swedish forward tucking home from close range to level the game up at 1-1 at 14-07. It saw both teams have chances to get the go ahead goal but both Skinns and Gregg Rockman kept their respective teams in the game as hthey heading into the first intermission all level.
Second period saw the Bison continue their aggressiveness and seemed like Guildford never came out of the locker room after the opening period, which saw the Bison stamped all over the Flames with the Surrey club lacking any threat or hunger for the game after the opening twenty minutes of play. 
Basingstoke made it 2-1 when Nicky Chinn did exactly the same as Psurny did in the other Semi final, with the forward skating through Guildford`s defense with such ease that they just seemed to let him happily go by before Chinn slid the puck in under Rockman to regain the lead and see the Herd starting to kick on from then at 23-57.
It soon got better for the Bison fans shortly after as Miroslav Mantroba then scored for to make it 3-1 at 28-17 as Chinn grabbed the only assist on the goal, before they then really hammered home their advantage with Joe Rand netting the Fourth goal for Doug Sheppard side at 31-43 with Cameron Wynn assisting. It seemed to have gone horribly pear shaped for the Surrey outfit with the game almost playing at testimonial pace, with the Bison  their foot on the Flames throat and keeping them there, while the game was looking out of reach now for the Flames.
Basingstoke dominated their opponent and saw them batter and bruise the Flames with relative ease, with Basingstoke taking the game away from Guildford and seen them head into the final period with a healthy 4-1 lead after two periods.
Play in the final period was a formality in truth, with the Bison just shutting up shop and playing out the game with a cautious approach, but still had an attacking threat in them when they needed to. Guildford tried to launch an comeback in the match, but they were came up against a resistance from the Bison defence to which saw them repel any threats the Flames had in the final stanza.
However Guildford gave themselves a glimmer of hope in the contest, when Branislav Kvetan found the back of the net to make it 4-2 and then saw them go through a mini purple patch that saw them slightly rock the Herd, but the Flames comeback was extinguished when Joe Greener forced home the puck to make it 5-2 at 57-57 and saw the Bison head into the Final, where they would meet the Manchester Phoenix in the Battle of the Cup holders. 

Man of the Match: 

Bison: 27# Nicky Chinn             Flames: 82# Jez Lundin 

EPL Playoff Final: Bison claim a Cup double

 

 MANCHESTER PHOENIX     2 –  5    BASINGSTOKE BISON



                         KOVAR, ARCHER                                                                               LONG,RAND,BAIRD,KARPOV, CONNOLLY

The Sunday saw Manchester Phoenix renew their rivalry with the Basingstoke Bison as the Cup winners took on the EPL Cup champions to decide which team would be the double winners for 2014 in the English Premier League.
Manchester from the off looked the brightest side in the early part of the game, as they were putting the Bison side under pressure but nothing to really make Dean Skinns in the Basingstoke nets, having to save many shots.
The Bison then managed to get themselves back into the contest with them beginning to be the most threatening side in the opening twenty minutes of play, with the Manchester defence putting up a good rearguard effort and also had Steve Fone putting up a good resistance to the Basingstoke shooters as well.
Andrew Melachrino was the first player to head to the penalty box, after he picked up a Slashing call at 10-05 and saw Phoenix unable to make any inroads on their powerplay opportunity at all.
Richard Bentham then took a Slashing penalty at 15-30 to see the Phoenix on the penalty kill and one that they successfully killed off too, with Fone making some saves as well with the Phoenix defense standing firm.
Both sides headed to the locker room feeling pretty pleased with not conceding and also at how their general play was going.
In the Second period, Phoenix found themselves shorthanded with Frankie Bakrlik sitting for two minutes as he picked up a Tripping call and saw Andrew Melachrino blatantly soon after commit a holding penalty on James Archer as he held the forward while near the Bison goals and so he headed to the box.  He was out shortly after though, with Manchester taking the lead though a tap in from Robin Kovar on the powerplay at 28-47.
This saw Basingstoke come charging back into the contest as they rocked the  Manchester Phoenix as they inflicted a couple of goals of them and they Manchester suffered a traditional second period collapse, with them conceding two goals in as many minutes and it proved to be the turning point in the game.
First off Ciaran Long capitalised on a big Andy McKinney mistake in his own zone, with the former Phoenix man dispossessing the fallen McKinney of the puck and Long made Phoenix pay and so put the puck past Fone in the Phoenix nets to see Bison level it at 1-1 which 29-13 gone.
Things got worse for Manchester a couple minutes later, when Miroslav Mantroba was serving a Holding penalty and during a poor powerplay by Phoenix, it seen them sloppily caught out, with Joe Rand skating up ice before being hooked down by Robin Kovar while through on goal, to see a penalty shot awarded for the Bison and one that saw Rand take the penalty and slot it through the legs of Fone for a 2-1 lead at 31-36.
Manchester switched to survival mode as the Herd were all over for them the rest of the second, with the Phoenix much like a boxer. If it was a boxing referee then he would have stopped the contest, with Doug Sheppard side pounding away on the League Champions.
In the final period it saw the Bison continue to up the pressure on their opponents with Manchester short bench counting more than ever as players were struggling to get to the bench at times, while the Bison got stronger as the game went on. Phoenix lacked any pace in the game with Jack Watkins and Liam Chong speed being one factor that were missing in abundance, which saw the Bison outplay their opponents.
Manchester scored another powerplay goal with James Archer scoring to make it a 2-2 game and was as good as it got for the men from Manchester, with the men from Hampshire moving up a gear or two to take the final by the scruff of the neck and plough on.
Joe Baird put the Bison back in front at 47-53 as a face-off win by Arron Connolly saw Joe Rand pass back towards Baird on the blue line and he just threw the puck on goal and it beat Fone who was screened by players and saw the Skydome Arena erupt with a large majority cheering on the Basingstoke Bison.
Tomas Karpov then made it 4-2 as his slapshot beat Steve Fone whom it seemed, didn`t expect the shot coming or was screened by a player. Fone got a piece of the puck but the shot was unstoppable and so was unable to make it stick and saw the puck fly into the net at 50-01.
With time running out for the defending Playoff champions, they managed to pull a goal back and make it tense finale at 4-3 as Robin Kovar netted at 56-49, it showed that they were not giving up their crown without a fight and would fight to the end in what would be a losing effort.
James Neil who took a blast to the foot in the Semi final was rumoured to be out of the final with a bad injury, but the youngster showed his will and grit to play in the game.  He was one of the stand out players for the Phoenix as they relinquished their crown to the Basingstoke Bison as Manchester played their final card in an final attempt to draw level, with them throwing the extra attacker on and saw Bison steal the puck and went on a 3 on 1 break. Bakrlik was last man back and guarded an empty net and tried his hardest to block any attempt on goal by Bison but Connolly fired into the empty net to start the celebrations off with 59-58 gone in the game to see them win the Playoff trophy 5-3, while Bakrlik lay distraught on the ice as did a couple of Phoenix players with the loss.
It also saw Manchester`s Czech defenseman in Rob Schnabel bow out to as he was retiring from the game after the final, but he received an tremendous ovation from the Manchester Phoenix supporters as he skated off one last time before the Phoenix players performed their traditional victory celebration for one final time this season. Basingstoke were worthy winners of the playoffs, but Manchester with what they had left gave every drop of sweat and energy they had to hold onto their crown and  saw them finish the season with a League title, which is a brilliant effort with one of the smallest squads in the entire EPL.  
  

Phoenix avoid getting Stung Twice to reach Finals Weekend!










MANCHESTER PHOENIX 6-3 BRACKNELL BEES



Manchester Phoenix booked their place in the English Premier League Playoffs finals at Coventry next weekend, with a 8-6 aggregate win over the battling Bracknell Bees for the second successive post-season to see them progress through to Final Four.
It means that the League Champions face an equally tough challenge against the Swindon Wildcats in the opening Semi final after the Wildcats defeated the Milton Keynes Lightning 5-4 on aggregate their respective tie.
Manchester had to overturn a one goal deficit after the first leg down in Bracknell at the Hive, that game saw the home side bringing up a 3-2 lead from Berkshire to take up to the North.
Scott Spearing drew first blood for Bracknell before goals by Richard Bentham and Robin Kovar saw Phoenix move into the lead at 2-1, that was till Spearing added his second of the game with Jan Bendik scoring the go ahead goal for 3-2 soon after to see them confident of defending that lead on the Sunday evening.
For Phoenix this was like deja vu all over again, as a couple weeks previously they found themselves in the same predicament, when on that occasion much like this game they need a victory by two clear goals or more as that would see them through the finals weekend.
From the opening face-off it was a plain to see that one side was happy to soak the pressure up with out really being tested too much. Bracknell was trying to play a defensive game and saw Manchester struggling to get any type of attack or move going what so ever in the contest.

   

The first note of the game came at 6:06 in the contest, when Richard Bentham was penalised for Abuse of Official as well as Tripping when Tony Hand got flattened by a Bees player in the build up and saw Bentham upended to, but neither incident drew a penalty.
Prior to the penalty that was awarded there was numerous incidents involving Scott Spearing on Robin Kovar off the puck which saw the Czech man Hooked, Slashed and Tripped up, yet unbelievably all appeals fell on deaf ears by the two referees and was in front of one, who was in perfect position for all three incidents but ignored all. 
However this angered the Manchester team and saw Bentham skate around one of the referees who instantly raised his arm for a penalty and then seconds later he tripped up a Bees player and saw the other referee then call him for the Tripping. 
The whole passage of play perfectly spotlighted the poor officiating in the EPL this season, with blatant stonewall calls not being made, but then the softer calls for the opposition would be made and has seen many players in this league voice their opinions on social media over how bad the officiating has got to.
As it was, Bentham was correctly called and picked up 2 plus 10 minute penalty for Abuse of Official, those two calls were the only correct incidents that the officials had got right in the opening period.
So after a stale opening period by both sides, we then moved to the Second period of play and saw a coming together of players after Bentham was roughed up behind the play, after he gave a shove to the Bracknell player and in doing so saw him claim a Roughing penalty at 22-45 and saw the Penalty kill unit doing their job very well.
The Visitors then had a man sent to the box for High Sticks after James Archer took an opponent`s stick to the face and drew a bit of blood, but neither official wanted to call it until one of the linesman`s intervention highlighted the blood and so saw a Bees man headed to the box at 25-56.
With the penalty on Lewis Turner having expired, a minute later saw Scott Spearing finally get a call against him as he went for Slashing, when it seemed to be a stick into the body, but he sat for two minutes any how.
Andy McKinney then went for a high sticks call but saw his team mates hold out and saw score remain scoreless.
With the home side still unable to make any head way into drawing the tie level , it need a moment of brilliance to break the deadlock and it came in the shape of Michal Psurny as the Czech Republic forward used skill to get by the Bracknell back line, before he then made a nifty move to squeeze it through the tightest of gaps left by Alex Mettam at his left hand post to see the Phoenix draw level in the tie and lead 1-0 on the night at 34-04.

  
Phoenix then found themselves with a powerplay opportunity after Sam Oakford had Cross Checked a Manchester man into the back and saw him head off to the penalty box at 38-24. 
From that penalty Frantisek Bakrlik blasted home a one time shot from the Point after work by Michal Psurny and Tony Hand created the goal that saw Manchester take a 2-0 lead and go 4-3 into the lead overall. 
Over a minute later at 37-36 it seen Defenceman Joe Graham pop up from nowhere to increase the lead for the home side as a nice flick at the near post saw the puck roofed past Mettam for 3-0 after Tony Hand`s vision and pass picked out the Nottingham born Graham and he made it 5-3 to the Phoenix in the tie.
The tie seemed to be all over but over you thought, as Bracknell was looking tired with their short bench, but they managed to get back in the game, when Lukas Smital put his effort in on a delayed penalty goal to make it 3-1 to the home side, but saw the Bees now within one goal overall at 5-4 down with the goal coming at 45-26.
Manchester came right back, as a poor defensive clearance came straight to Tony Hand on the blue line and he skated on goal before firing past Mettam for a 4-1 game at 46-24, Phoenix may have thought that the fourth goal would kill off the Bees hopes, but it didn`t.
Tempered then began to fray between the two sides with at 48-03 in the game, Scott Spearing was playing his usual agitating role perfectly as he gave a slash on the glove of Steve Fone after the whistle which then drew a couple of players over and it was fair to say they didn`t look too kindly, notably Bakrlik and Kovar. They had a coming together with Lukas Smital and who else..but Scott Spearing, which seen all four men sit for two minutes.  
At 51-41, James Galazzi scored for the Bees to make it a 4-2 game and saw the visitors living up to their nickname, as they were annoying the Phoenix with the Bees constantly hovering and thus staying in touch with the overall score at 6-5.

   
Scott Spearing just couldn`t avoid putting himself around enough and saw him collect a Hooking penalty on Robin Kovar at 53-28, that then saw Phoenix make it 5-2 on the night after James Archer flicked it in over Mettam while the forward was tied up near the front of the net and saw Phoenix looking like they had sewn it all up now with Tony Hand and Robin Kovar grabbing assisting at 54-59.
Phoenix looked to be cruising now as a Frankie Bakrlik howitzer flew by Alex Mettam and took everyone by surprise as the sounds of the loud pings off the pipework, saw the puck nestle in the back of the Bracknell net for 6-2 and Phoenix were heading to Coventry. 
However the coach had to be temporarily pulled up, with the plucky Bracknell side not give up hope of a miracle and so at 56-27, it saw the Bees get a slight bit of good luck as Luke Boothroyd lost his stick while the Bees were ‘buzzing’ round the Phoenix nets and saw the puck fizzed across the front of Fone`s crease and got diverted in by Bakrlik skate for a 6-3 game set up a tense finale. Manchester managed to hold out with the two goal advantage and saw them progress in a great game of hockey which saw them swat the Bees for a second straight year and make it back to the finals weekend in a thrilling playoff series too.