Sledge Hockey: Steelkings Dethroned as Phoenix hand out a ‘ROYAL’ beating!

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This past Saturday saw the War of the Roses taking place on the Sledge as it seen the first ever competitive game between the two sides despite them meeting in friendly matches in the past. With the teams meeting twice in a row in successive weekends it saw the Phoenix drawing first blood over their Yorkshire rivals with a 9-0 win at the Altrincham Ice Dome in a tough game despite what the score line says.

Manchester welcomed back Steve Midghall to the starting line up after the netminder was missing against Kingston with a shoulder injury. An interesting side note to the game too was it was a family occasion too with the battle of the Oakley’s as John and Jake of the Sheffield Steelkings faced off against their fellow family member in Els who was on the Phoenix side.

It saw the hosts dominate the play in the game and take an early lead when the Karl Nicholson got on the score sheet at 1.44 to give the home side the 1-0 lead. Sheffield did well to combat to an energetic Phoenix side and saw them holding the hosts to a one goal lead with the Steelkings doing a good job. Rob Allen then made it 2-0 at 3.56 after the forward scored with a tip in at the front of the Sheffield net after Anthony Booth picked up his second assist of the game as the Phoenix started to move up a gear.

Phoenix upped their play with every passing attack and grew in confidence with their opponents being pulled out of position and also losing shape which caused chaos in the Steelkings zone. Sheffield then had a rare chance as Caroline Bonner brought out a save from netminder Steve Midghall to see him deny the White Rose side a goal. Pat Bailey then put in goal three at 7.23 after Hackworth made a good stop from Bailey initially, but Bailey followed it up to put home and seen the hosts opening up a commanding lead.

With Sheffield struggling to get much in the way of attacking efforts it did see them having flashes of good play as they tried to go forward but the Phoenix defence was just on top of them to snuff the play out before it could turn into something better. Manchester scored their fourth unanswered goal in the match through Karl Nicholson after the Phoenix man fired his shot and found the top far corner for a stunning goal.

Steelkings netminder Bryan Hackworth was called upon yet again for the opponents as he made a couple of brilliant save to deny their opponents having an even bigger score in the game. As you would expect with a meeting between Lancashire and Yorkshire it saw some heavy hits come in by both sides as Barry Grayson gave some good hits on Phoenix players and saw the home side give it right back.

Nicholson then scored his hat trick goal as the score moved to 5-0 for the hosts in the opening period and was a deserved lead as it was predominately one way traffic in the period. We then got our first meeting of the game of the Oakley’s battling with sibling rivalry in Brother and Sister facing off minutes before the end of the first.

In to the second and it nearly saw a first goal for Els Oakley as the Phoenix player found herself at the front of the net and had a couple of chances with Bryan Hackworth making a double save off her to see the score line remind at 5-0 and if it had gone in then her opposition on the other side would not have heard the last of it. Anthony Booth then netted goal six for Phoenix at 19.04 as the puck came to him at the side of the net and he managed to just flip it high past the netminder to extend their lead. Phoenix thought they had scored soon after but had it waved off by the referee as he thought it was put in with a hand.

Sheffield then started to make head way in the game as they managed to filter into the Phoenix zone and had a half chance through David Hall but he managed to drag his shot wide of the target but let Manchester know that they hadn`t given up in the game. Dominic Cosgrove then made it seven with a poacher’s type of goal timed at 24.43 as the puck fell to Cosgrove from a rebound and the Phoenix man who as grafted with not much success this season saw him score a well deserved goal.

Seven became eight at 28.00 when Karl Nicholson’s shot was saved by Hackworth in goals but a clearance near the front of the goals by the Steelkings had the puck bounce unluckily off Hall’s stick and into the net for another goal in the Phoenix column. With two periods of play gone and the scoreboard reading 8-0 to the home side you would be forgiven for thinking that the losing side would just try to shore up at the back and avoid conceding more, but instead saw them having a real good go at start of the third.

Sheffield came out and camped in the Manchester end for a couple of minutes and had the hosts in a bit of a panic as they failed to clear their lines and brought another save out of Steve Midghall in the Phoenix nets from David Hall and had David Scivill looking for the rebound. Sheffield seemed to gain confidence and when Anthony Booth served a two minute call for Boarding and saw the Steelkings given a great opportunity of pulling one back.

Instead though it saw Nicholson break away up and fire a shot on goal but Hackworth was more alert and kept it out. Pat Bailey then scored the goal of the game at 36.21 when the Manchester man picked up the puck to the left side of the Sheffield goal and with a flick of the wrist saw the puck fly over past the goaltender from a tight angle and beat the Sheffield goalie all hands down. Els Oakley had another chance to grab her first sledge goal and once again it was the netminder to rescue.
The horn sound to bring the curtain down on the game and saw the Lancashire side earn the bragging rights this weekend and will have both sides renew this new rivalry next weekend at Ice Sheffield when the Phoenix travel over the Pennines.


Cricket: Faulkner & Croft strike down the Falcons in Lightning win

LANCASHIRE  LIGHTNING – 201 – 3 (20.0)   –  Croft  94*


DERBYSHIRE  FALCONS – 134  ALL OUT (18.2)  – Hughes  39     


LANCASHIRE COUNTY CRICKET CLUB Emirates Old Trafford Lancashire Lightning v Derbyshire  Nat West t20 Blast 12/06/15 Arron Lilley takes the first bof two catches on the boundary
Lancashire celebrates a wicket 


Lancashire Lightning followed up their stunning Roses win at Yorkshire last week with an even more impressive win over the Derbyshire Falcons at the Emirates Old Trafford, as the Lightning won by 67 runs thanks largely to the batting duo of captain Steven Croft and Australian James Faulkner.

The pair put on a 151 run stand in the final 10 overs of the their innings, to see the hosts go from 66-3 after 10.3 overs gone and then post a decent total of 201-3 at the end of their innings.  Lancashire who have struggled this year in the shorter format of the game, has seen them suffer defeats to Derbyshire and Durham in the T20 Blast so far in the tournament and haven’t looked anywhere near as convincing as they had last year, in which the Red Rose county were runners-up.

Lancashire’s duo of South African Ashwell Prince and Liam Livingston had got off to a good start to begin with, but they quickly reverted to the trend that the Lightning have suffered from in being slow starters so far.  Play from the Lightning was being stifled by the Derbyshire bowling attack and had the Falcons putting a lot of pressure on the hosts for a lot of their innings, with Lancashire more than happy to take the singles and two’s that were on offer.  Prince was first to fall for the hosts, when former Lightning man Wayne White struck for the Falcons, trapping the former South African batsman for just 19 and then Karl Brown came and went soon after with the Lancashire man making just 8 runs before he succumb off the bowling of Tony Palladino and had Chesney Hughes taking the catch after Brown had attempted a slog for the boundary.

Captain of the Lightning Steven Croft then came to the crease with his side struggling, and the captain witnessed Wes Durston clean bowling Liam Livingstone and left Lancashire on 50-3 with the game just short of the halfway point and not really seeing any evidence of the Lightning kicking on at all. However that all changed once Australian International James Faulkner became the next man out in the middle for Lancashire, as he and Croft helped kick start an incredible batting turn around for Lancashire with the pair about to start a recovery mission. The Lightning duo moved the scoreboard along from 63-3 to finish with a flourish and post a strong total of 201-3 from their 20 overs as the partnership of 151 off 80 balls, had helped the hosts posting an unlikely total.

Derbyshire in truth though, let Lancashire off the hook big time in the game and saw the Falcons losing their way in the back end of the innings, with the Falcons bowling becoming wayward and that was evident with Nathan Rimmington conceding 53 runs in his four overs and had 29 conceded in the penultimate over that saw two wides bowled at a crucial stage.  Wayne White who had enjoyed the last meeting between the two sides in Derby with the ball, saw him in the final over giving up 20 runs and helped the Lancashire side boosting their total in the end.

The Lightning innings had seen half chances and dropped catches put down at key times by Derbyshire, and with the implosion of the bowling attack towards the end, it was a case of throwing the game away well and truly.  Steven Croft scored a captain’s Innings as he top scored with his best ever knock in the competition with a 94 not out, while his partner in crime in James Faulkner, he finished on 47 not out facing just 30 deliveries and scoring three sixes and two fours in his cameo innings.

Derbyshire in reply never really got going at all in their run chase, to which it was summed up when Wes Durston edged James Faulkner’s second delivery of the Falcons innings to Steven Croft at slip for a duck.  Tilliakaratne Dilshan then followed next for the away side after the Sri Lankan top edged off Tom Bailey’s delivery and had wicket-keeper Alex Davies comfortably taking the catch.  Chesney Hughes then went for 39 off the bowling of Aaron Lilley with Ashwell Prince claiming the wicket and then things got worse for the Falcons, with both Wayne Madsen and Billy Godlemann scoring 18 each before they were both out with Derbyshire struggling along at 105-5 after 13.5 overs gone.

Stephen Parry then struck twice for the Lightning in the 16th over, to which he dismissed Tom Poynton and Scott Elstone with Aaron Lilley taking both catches and seen the Falcons in deep trouble at 117-8.  Parry continued on his fantastic bowling spell in his next over, with the spinner trapping Shiv Thakor LBW for 5 and then followed it up with his last ball of his third over by getting former Lancs man Wayne White out for 6 after skipper Steven Croft took the catch.  Lancashire handed a debut to youngster Saqib Mahmood and saw the debutant showing just why he is highly thought of at the Red Rose County, in which he produced some brilliant bowling for the Lightning to see Derbyshire hanging on.  Mahmood got a deserved wicket to wrap up the Falcons Innings, with the youngster having Tom Palladino edging a ball behind to Alex Davies who took the catch comfortably to see Lancashire Lightning win the game by 67 runs and improve the home sides position in the T20 Northern section.

Continue reading “Cricket: Faulkner & Croft strike down the Falcons in Lightning win”

SLEDGE HOCKEY: Kestrels ‘prey’ on Phoenix

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Manchester Phoenix made the trip over to Humberside this past Saturday lunchtime as they faced the Kingston Kestrels at the HulI Ice Arena and saw the Kestrels move level on points with the league leaders at the top of the Planet Ice Sledge Hockey League, with the Hull based side beating the Manchester Phoenix 7-3. It saw Kingston’s GB international duo of Matt Clarkson and Matt Woolias both helping themselves to hat tricks in the win over the Altrincham outfit.

Before the contest started it had Phoenix forced into a late change with netminder Steve Midghall unable to play due to suffering with a shoulder injury, so that meant that Dougy Hankinson made his netminding debut in the game as he went in between the pipes for the visiting Phoenix team.

Manchester started off brightly and saw them nearly open the scoring less than a minute in the match when forward Anthony Booth saw his effort bring out a stunning save by Ian Houliston in the Kingston goals to keep the puck out. At 1.43 the home side took the lead through the dynamic duo of Matt Woolias and Matt Clarkson, with Clarkson setting up his team mate and saw a rush by Woolias up ice getting by the Phoenix defense and putting the puck past Hankinson for a goal against the run of play.

At 5.49 Matt Woolias then doubled the lead for the Kestrels after he found the twine yet again and saw Manchester’s inability to convert their chances coming back to haunt them with the Kestrels being more clinical with their finishing than the Manchester side. Matt Woolias then turned from goal scorer to provider when the forward got himself free from his marker in by the corner and seen him play a lovely pass out across the front of the net for the waiting Matt Clarkson who flipped it high over Hankinson for a 3-0 score line after 9.59.

In the second period and the Phoenix still couldn’t break down the stubborn Kingston defences, that despite a chance falling to Booth at the start of the period and when the puck went under the sledge of Ian Houliston the netminder lost sight of it, as it stuck near the goal line but the Kestrels somehow managed to stop the Phoenix man from scoring. At 20.49 it saw Matt Woolias completing his hat trick to make it 4-0 for the hosts after the Phoenix was caught high up the ice and gave Woolias the perfect opportunity to skate by in attack and despite the unlucky efforts of Dominic Cosgrove in trying to stop the Kingston man, it saw Woolias managing to keep the puck and put it in giving the home side a commanding lead and looking to have sewn the game up.

Both teams had a man serving penalties with Kingston having a man in for Interference and then Phoenix had Graham ‘Pain Train’ Wilson got called for T-boning which saw some 4 on 4 hockey being played out. Manchester finally got on the score board through a Karl Nicholson goal, with the one-time Kestrels man slaloming his way through the Kingston Kestrels back line to fire high over Houliston and make it 4-1 at 26.59 with Graham Wilson picking up the assist. Wilson then picked up a nasty blow soon after, when he accidently took a sledge to the chest and saw him down for a few minutes to recover and head back to the bench.

In the Third period of play and was very much like the second was in where the two sides battled hard and had chances and made for a very entertaining game for those in attendance. Kingston though struck quickly three times in the early stages of the third, with two goals by Matt Clarkson who was clearly in ‘Top Gear’ in the game saw the Kestrels man netting his own hat trick in the game and when Simon Berry scored to make it 7-1 for the home side at 33.49 the contest was pretty much done and dusted.

Manchester though battled on and seemed to finally get some kind of attack play going, as Rob Allen pulled one back at 34.07 with Karl Nicholson assisting on it, then three minutes later the Phoenix made it a four goal game when Karl Nicholson fired in goal three for the visitors and had Anthony Booth along with Rob Allen picking up assists to see the score line a bit closer.

In fairness the score line doesn’t fully show how close this game was in truth and even though Kingston was the more drilled side of the two teams and sharper, It saw them out shooting Manchester by just four shots in the game and if it wasn’t for Ian Houliston making some brilliants saves in the game for the hosts, then the score line could easily have been a different story.


The Phoenix will have a chance to correct their league position as they return home in their next league game when they welcome the Sheffield Steelkings to the Altrincham Ice Dome ahead of the Home and away games in successive weeks against them. It will see a number of firsts in the game too, with the first competitive league meeting between the two sides in history and will be the first time the Sheffield side have come this side of the Pennines with previous games having been played over at Ice Sheffield in friendly matches.

There will also be a Family connection over the following two weeks as well. With the battle of the Oakley family, as Sheffield’s Jake and John Oakley take on the tougher member of the family in Phoenix’s own Els Oakley and where bragging rights will more than certainly be played for too.

Ice Hockeys: Cirelli Overtime Strike Sees Oshawa Champions




                                               AFTER OVERTIME

Oshawa Generals were crowned the 2015 Mastercard Memorial Cup winners on Sunday evening after an overtime strike by Anthony Cirelli gave the Ontario side their sixth Memorial Cup victory, their first in a quarter of a century with a 2-1 win over the Kelowna Rockets at the Pepsi Colisee in Quebec City, Canada.

Both sides had met in the group stage last Tuesday when the Generals beat the Rockets 2-1 and booked their place in the final of this prestigious tournament.  Oshawa was slight favourites to lift the cup against the Rockets in the final but the Western Hockey League team showed that they were more than a match for their opponents by playing the better hockey in the opening period. Past the halfway point of the opening period there was some concern for the Rockets player Rourke Chartier after he got hit hard by Bradley Latour and crashed head first into the boards but  after a minute or two Chartier gathered himself and wasn`t best pleased at being hit.

The opening goal was scored by the WHL side as Tomas Soustal at 15.08 gave the Rockets the lead after a blast by Madison Bowey missed the near post and his shot rebounded nicely for Soustal at the far post as he skated past to back hand his shot by Ken Appleby. It was a lead that the British Columbian side just deserved in the game as they took the game to the Generals and pegged them back.

Kelowna almost doubled their lead early in the second period after Riley Stadel’s back handed attempt at the front of the net saw Appleby coming up big for the Generals to stop his shot and then had his entire team on the ice scrambling to help their goalie out and get the whistle.

Ken Appleby was in the firing line once again for Oshawa as he faced three quick shots. Firstly from Lucas Johanson with the rebound falling to goal scorer Gage Quinney whose shot was saved by Appleby and then came into the path of Tyson Ballie but Appleby made a stunning stop while flat on his stomach to somehow deny the Rockets.

Oshawa was back on level terms at 33.50 when a pass up ice from the Generals Dakota Mermis was collected by Vancouver Canucks draft pick in 2013 Anthony Cirelli and had the Center making a nice spin move to get more space then fired over the shoulder of Jackson Whistle to make it 1-1.

In the final period, both sides were close and with 2.32 left to go, a controversial incident occurred when a one-time shot by Cole Cassels was blocked by Whistle in the Rockets nets. The puck then went up in the air and Hunter Smith batted it down into the back of the net. The Kelowna players protested and the officials watched the video replay to determine if it was a goal or not. The end result at this crucial point in the game saw the goal waved off for high sticks and play continued with the score all square.

Kelowna had the last of the best chances in regulation after Tyson Ballie battled hard at the net when the Generals netminder lifted his trapper to make sure the puck was there but left it exposed, Ballie then took a couple of whacks at it which led to Appleby hauling him down to the ice in anger and a scrum ensued in front of the Oshawa nets.

With the game tied at 1-1, it went into overtime and 1.28 into the first period the game winner was scored after a shot from Chris Carlisle with Anthony Cirelli battling at the front of the net with Josh Morrissey.  The puck bounced loose and Cirelli was alert enough to whack it home and give the Generals the 2-1 win which then sparked wild celebrations on the ice.

While the Oshawa players celebrated their victory in the corner, the Kelowna side were left stunned, with some in tears, some in shock and the players on the ice just devastated by the overtime goal which condemned them to defeat.

After the handshake between the two sides, the MVP of the 97th Annual Tournament was awarded to Kelowna Rockets forward Leon Draisaiti, who was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers last year and notched up 4 goals and 3 assists in 5 games.

Josh Brown skated forward for the Oshawa Generals to lift the title they hadn`t won since 1990 and the first by an Ontario Hockey League team in five years when the Windsor Spitfires last won it in 2010.