Ice Hockey: Storm Collapse to the Clan

Ice Hockey

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Manchester Storm  4 – 6  Braehead Clan

In what has been an all too familiar story for the Altrincham based club this season, the Manchester Storm imploded dramatically on Saturday evening as from being 4-1 up and looking like world beaters, they then crashed and burned to a 6-4 defeat against the Braehead Clan.

Manchester jumped into a stunning two goal lead after just 2:03 gone in the game thanks to goals by Luke Salazar and the returning Davey Phillips to the Manchester line-up. Storm had the Clan dumbfounded and their massive Purple army stunned into silence with their quick start.

Brendan Brooks then tipped in a Scott Pitt shot past Zane Kalemba to cut the deficit to one and saw the game starting to simmer a bit too with the team’s physical sides coming out. Manchester then had another goal flurry soon after as firstly Patrik Valcak netted for 3-1 lead and then had Vinny Scarsella scoring shorthanded to make it 4-1 at 10:53 to give the hosts a well deserved advantage.

Manchester looked incredible and Braehead really had no answer for their opponents speed, skill and clinical finishing in the period. Braehead then started to change the passage of play in the game and saw Alex Leavitt pulling one back for the Clan going into the second.

From the second period onwards the Clan dominated the game and had Manchester turning from a Storm to a slight breeze.  Braehead then made it a one goal game when Alex Leavitt scored his second of the game and the Clan’s third, to boost their confidence .

The visitors outshot their hosts 13-9 in the second and the question on Storm fans lips was would they be able to get back on track in the third or would it be the Clan continuing their dominance. 

 

We got that answer in the opening five minutes of the the third period, when two well worked goals undone the Storm back line and had the Clan pulling them apart.  

Captain of the Braehead Clan in Matt Keith, saw him putting the Clan’s fourth goal in when Alex Leavitt completed his hat trick to make it a 5-4 game in favour of the Glasgow side and then saw Mike Folkes and Brendan Brooks dropping the gloves straight after the goal and had Brooks getting the better of the scrap.

At 46:49 a high hit from Davey Phillips on Braehead’s hat trick man Alex Leavitt saw temperatures beginning to rise and so when Phillips caught another Clan player quickly after, it led to Braehead not happy and aimed their frustrations out on Matt Paton.

It saw the Storm man and Jamie Fritsch from the Clan both sitting for two minutes each, while Phillips got a 2 plus 10 for checking to the head.

Once again Storm’s Achilles heel was letting their emotions getting the best of them and that allowed Braehead to finish off their opponents with an empty net goal and saw their fellow Gardiner Conference rivals taking points off them.

 

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Ice Hockey: Satek OT winner stuns Phantoms

Ice Hockey

 

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Manchester Phoenix  3 – 2 Peterborough Phantoms

 (After Overtime)

Michal Satek overtime strike saw a hard fought win for the short benched Manchester Phoenix on Sunday night, as they came from behind to beat the title challenging Peterborough Phantoms 3-2 at Deeside Ice rink.

Phoenix had the rarity of a full compliment of players at their disposal for the match and despite the Phantoms being the inform side, Peterborough were surprising not the aggressors at the start of the match.

Robin Kovar came the closest to breaking the deadlock in the game as his effort was brilliantly saved by the always formidable Janis Auzins between the pipes for Peterborough.

Manchester then found themselves on a extended penalty kill, with Ben Wood and Luke Boothroyd both sat in the penalty box for respective penalties and that gave the visitors a great chance to go ahead. However the hosts had other ideas and a resolute Manchester defence successfully killed off both penalties.

Minutes later Dan Wheldon was then called by referee Steve Matthews for a Hooking and from that resulting powerplay for the Phoenix, it saw Ben Wood scoring netting the opening goal at 9:53 with Nico Aaltonen and Stanislav Gron grabbing assists on the effort.

Manchester despite being short benched as they have done for the whole of the season so far, saw them giving their opponents a tough game and in patches was the better side in the opening ten minutes of the contest.  

Phoenix then suffered a huge blow midway through the first period when Stanislav Gron collided with Martin Susters while falling it seemed at centre ice and that saw the Slovakian hitting the ice hard and skated immediately to the team bench, where that would be his final action of the game.

Peterborough then found their shooting boots and inside a 21 second spell in the first, it saw Milan Baranyk netting from a rebound by Steve Fone to level the game at 12:05 and then the Phantoms went 2-1 up with a Ales Padelek rocket flying by Fone at 12:26.

Manchester was doing well to clog up the Phantoms attackers and stop them inflicting any more damage on the Phoenix and had them standing firm after that mini lapse in concentration.

Manchester in the second saw them creating some brilliant goalscoring opportunities, but just failed to find the finish to their plays and had Peterborough as well finding it hard to bury their chances.  

Peterborough had the better of the second period and had the lionshare of the puck but wasn’t causing many problems for the home side. However with seconds remaining on the period, it saw a Darius Pliskausakas shot finding the back of the net only for the referee to wash it out immediately for an accidental goalie interference call.

When the time ran out there was discussions between Baranyk and the Referee as the players left the ice surface.  The arguments continued on well after the period end and had Phantoms Captain James Ferrara and Head Coach Slava Koulikov both speaking to the man in charge during the intermission.

It was no doubt a big call in the game as if the goal had stood it would have been game over for sure for the Phoenix you felt. Play in the third period of play saw the Phoenix getting their second wind and came right at their opponents and looked for this tying goal.

Phoenix pressed hard and had the Phantoms happy to soak up the pressure from the hosts as Auzins was on top of the Phoenix forwards for the majority of the game.  

Eventually the resistance from the visitors was broken when Finnish player Nico Aaltonen somehow netted after a scramble at the front of the Peterborough nets at 52:44 for a 2-2 hockey game.

The hosts grew in confidence and you they had a chance of getting the a winning goal towards the end but once again Auzins was there to deny the Phoenix shooters. Peterborough had a chance just prior to the close of the third, when Fone lost sight of it and had the Phantoms forward pushing a Phoenix defenceman lead to a scrum around the Manchester net.

It led to Overtime being needed to try and separate these teams and it saw the visitors controlling the puck and looking the better side to begin with.

Phoenix collected a loose puck through Michal Satek and the Slovakian went ‘coast to coast’ so to speak and saw the Phoenix man skating round the last man and had the offensive awareness to flip it over the out coming goalie in Janis Auzins, to score the game winner in overtime and give Manchester a huge confidence boosting victory.

 

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ICE HOCKEY: Devils Unleash Hell On Manchester

Ice Hockey

 

 

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MANCHESTER STORM   2  – 6  CARDIFF DEVILS

Cardiff Devils moved joint top of the Elite League table with the Nottingham Panthers on Sunday evening, after their dominating display saw them dismantle a completely lacklustre Manchester Storm side 6-2 at the Altrincham Ice rink.

Cardiff were coming off an overtime win against the Belfast Giants at home the night before and saw them entering the contest high on confidence. For the Storm they made it two successive road wins on the bounce, as they beat the Fife Flyers up in Kirkcaldy 3-1.

From the drop of the puck it was dominated from start to finish by the South Wales side as they pulled apart a sorry Manchester side for the entire 60 minutes.  

Cardiff played their traditional brand of Devils hockey as they came out from the very beginning playing a physical game and took it to the Storm.

This was never more evident than when Trevor Hendrikx picked up an interference call, with the Devils man taking Storm’s Vinny Scarsella out of the play with a huge mid ice hit.

Joey Haddad put the visitors deservedly ahead at 12:05 in the game, as play by Zach Hervato and Lee Salters saw them combine to set up Haddad, as he fired quickly by Zane Kalemba for 1-0 lead.

Manchester had a couple of efforts in the opening twenty, but there was nothing to write home about.

In the second period two early goals by player-coach Andrew Lord and Guillaume Doucet put the Devils in a commanding 3-0 lead, with the Storm looking dumbstruck at the back and looked like a set of lost souls out on the ice with no offence or defence to speak off.

The crowd sat in silence while the Devils fans cheering rang around the rink with their side completely having their way with the hosts. Patrick Valcak then tried to spark his team into life when he dropped the gloves with Andrew Lord, but even that couldn’t awake the hosts from their slumber.

Storm got a power play opportunity from the incident and saw things getting from bad to worse for the home side, with Trevor Hendrikx assisting Tyson Marsh for a short-handed goal at 32:22 for a 4-0 scoreline and after 40 minutes of play saw the Welsh side far away on top.

Manchester then had a tiny purple patch in the game, with two quick fire strikes by firstly Matt Paton and then 37 seconds later from Paul Phillips, as the Storm looked to be forcing a comeback in the game.

However their hopes were dashed by penalty trouble and that saw the Welsh side executing on their extra man advantages with two powerplay goals through Tomas Kurka with a nice finish for 5-2, and then Doucet with his second goal of the game at 49:23 to see off Manchester and condemning them to another home defeat.

Column: England’s Men v England’s Women- The Differences

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England players react after Australia's Bernard Foley scored his second try during the Rugby World Cup Pool A match between England and Australia at Twickenham stadium in London, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015 (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

(editors note: This piece was written prior to Stuart Lancaster stepping down)

 

With the Rugby World Cup now a few weeks past it saw yet another nail driven into the coffin of English team sports, courtesy of Australia’s win over Stuart Lancaster’s under-performing side and had an all too familiar scenario of an England squad going out at the group stages without a whimper. 

England’s embarrassing exit at their own World Cup didn’t stop just there, not only they did lose to a weakened Wales side and their enemy in Australia, but their failure was even more embarrassing when they became the first host nation in the competition’s 28-year history to go out at the group stage and set up a dead rubber game against Uruguay.   

The last 13 months has seen all the men’s national sides in their own respective World Cup’s setting a worrying trend.  Where none of England’s national sides progressed through to the knockout stages of the three big tournaments (Football, Cricket or Rugby) as they all went out due to poor performances which were deeply disappointing.


KIEV, UKRAINE - JUNE 24:  Steven Gerrard of England consoles Ashley Young after missing his penalty during the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter final match between England and Italy at The Olympic Stadium on June 24, 2012 in Kiev, Ukraine.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

 

 

If we go back in time to last year’s World Cup in Brazil it saw England travel to South America to compete in the Football tournament, but in truth they really should have made it to the round of sixteen at the very least especially when looking at it on paper.  

When the draw was made and seen them grouped with Uruguay and Costa Rica, it was the ‘easiest’ group in the tournament and should have saw them go through. Those within the media had already plotted their quarter-finals route before a ball had been kicked and had footballing journalists and ex professionals predicting England would get through without too much trouble at all, but as we now know that never happened at all.

With the football team heading home after  the first stage of the World Cup finals, it saw a lot of criticism coming the way of manager Roy Hodgson and had his misfiring players and tactics and changes he made being pulled apart by some circles in the media. 

Players were condemned by all supporters and the media people back home, with the ‘red top’ newspapers slaughtering them for lack of effort and questioning their commitment in these big tournaments and whether they were just interested in picking up a wage instead of success.

People will always use the excuse of ‘too many foreigners in the English game’, but there is always two ways of looking at things.  One is that players abroad cost a heck of a lot less than some of these so called ‘big name’ English players and the most overused phrase in the English game to describe them is that of being ‘World Class’. 

You have to go back three tournaments to see the last time an Englishman appeared in an All-star team at any major event, with John Terry being named in the 2006 World Cup dream team in Germany.

The second point to be used and one that seems most likely in my own personal view, is that English players in general and British players in a sense, are not up to a level of their counterparts in Europe or even the world. 

After a previous disappointing tournament by England in South Africa back in the 2010 World Cup,  the F.A tried to inspire new coaches to have them play a new way and get them to mature the new crop of players in this country quickly as they tried to replicate what Spain have achieved.

Germany struggled for years in their respective tournaments after 1996, but the footballing authorities over there were happy to give the team time and eventually saw their long awaited plans came to fruition,  with the Germans winning the World Cup and having players within the game buying into it.

We could see the ‘Three Lions’ somewhere down the road roaring once again, but looking from the outside in it looks a very long way off with everyone associated with England wanting results straight away.

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However lacking passion and having no belief are two things that you cannot level against their female counterparts though, as only a few months ago the England Women travelled to Canada for the Women’s World Cup and in all truth, weren’t expected to anything at all at tournament and didn’t have high hopes going into as such of doing too well.   

They were led by Mark Sampson, a Welshman who was in charge of Bristol Academy and who led them to a second place finish, their highest ever in the Women’s Super League (WSL) and also took them to two successive Women’s F.A cup finals in tenure.

 He had big shoes to fill though with the outgoing Hope Powell stepping down after 15 years in charge of the national side, and who did almost everything on limited resources from the F.A  during her time in charge.

Sampson led his side to their third straight World Cup Finals, in which they won all 10 group games and had a brilliant defensive record in qualifying, which saw scoring 52 goals and conceding just one in which came in their final group game against the Ukraine.

They started off their World Cup campaign with a sluggish 1-0 loss to France and followed that up with two successive wins against South American opposition by the same score of 2-1 and saw them moving on into the round of 16 once more.


In the second round they faced Norway in the knockout stages and had the Manchester City duo of Captain Steph Houghton and Lucy Bronze both netting in a 2-1 win for the Lionesses, to see England move into the quarter finals for the first time ever. 

Momentum is a great thing and saw England’s new found confidence reaching fever pitch with a stunning 2-1 win over the home nation in Canada and set up a semi-final clash with Japan.

Japan was the proverbial red-hot favourites to get the better of England and saw Mark Sampson’s side as the biggest underdogs in the final four. Japan though struggled throughout the contest with the ‘Lionesses’ and saw the Japanese awarded a very controversial penalty to see them go ahead, but Fara Williams then levelled for England and with the game reaching it’s climax, the Japanese looked dead on their feet as extra time approached and as what has been accustomed to with England in the past we saw a heartbreaking incident.

A bizarre fluke of an own goal by Laura Bassett in the 92nd minute saw her help Japan advance through and saw England cruelly missing out on the World Cup Final.

Three days later after their heartbreaking loss in the semi-finals, they faced off against a German side that they had failed to beat in their previous 20 attempts. One thing that saw them gaining popularity back home was their passion and never say die attitude that a few of the male players have been long accused of lacking when it comes to pulling on the ‘Three Lions’ shirt.

The game saw the Lionesses finally laying their past ghosts to rest and beat a German side that was expected to be far too strong for the English side, but instead their battling qualities saw them overcoming German and finished third in the 3rd/4th playoff game, thanks to a Fara Williams penalty in extra time.

England’s tournament was a huge success and has seen the Women’s game getting more coverage with BT Sports doing a great job of promoting the WSL (Women’s Super League), sadly though the BBC haven’t really made more of the Women’s success and despite screening the FA Cup final a month later, they haven’t bothered to try and get the highlights of the European qualifiers.

 

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Turning to Cricket and it has to be said that England are the ‘sleeping giants’ when it comes to the 50 over form of the game. They have been the most frustrating side to follow over the years and yet despite have bagful of talent in them to win the big games, more often than not though they come up short or collapse to dramatic standards.

You have to go back as long ago as 23-years ago for the last time England was make any impression at a World Cup, when they fell to a very good Pakistan team in the World Cup final.  

Since then though, they haven’t remotely come close to even repeating that feat as they haven’t even been past the quarter finals or even got out of the group stages either since 1992.

They have had some very poor tournaments and been annihilated by some teams in the past. However the scale of which they performed at the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, was embarrassing and beyond disastrous.

England has failed to reach the semi finals in the six previous World Cup’s and they have looked extremely poor and been lacking tactically too, especially when Alastair Cook was in charge as he was far too defensive for the shorter form of the game.

England have reached two finals in the last 11 years though, with a losing display against the West Indies in the ICC Champions Trophy back in 2004 on home soil.

Then In 2010 they faced Australia in the final of the ICC T20 tournament over in the West Indies, and on that occasion saw them finally getting the monkey off their back of trying to win a major final.

The Test matches have saw them flip flop from their one day form, with Ashes wins being more frequent and had them not to long ago earning the tag of the ‘Number One Test playing nation in the world’.

One big plus for England is having Eoin Morgan as captain, as for the World Cup he wasn’t given enough time to put his vision into practice for the tournament down under and was nearly made to be the scapegoat.  

But over this past summer they had a great series with NZ and Australia and shown signs of them improving a hell of a lot in a short space of time.

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england_2465457bFor the England Women’s side, they have shown to be a major force in the game and have always been successful or up or around there when it comes to the crunch.  Ever since they beat Australia for the Ashes back in 2005, the Women’s side have just improved and only suffered one or two blips along the way.

2009 saw the World Cup taking place in Australia and despite losing their opening game to the hosts, they would go on to win the tournament beating New Zealand in the final and capturing a major title.

They then became the holders of the Inaugural Twenty/20 World Championships on home soil, with them once again beating New Zealand in the final.

For the World Twenty20 back in 2012, it saw England as big favourites to win the tournament and saw them making it through to the final against their arch enemy in Australia, but on this occasion the Aussies came out on top and ended the English run of major wins. 

A year later they travelled to India to defend their World Cup title and saw them having to settle for a 3rd/4th place match with New Zealand, as they needed an Australian win over the West Indies to see a return meeting in the final between the two powerhouses in Women’s cricket in the final group game. 

Instead the West Indies pulled off a ‘remarkable’ victory to see them facing off against Australia in the final, while England had to settle with beating the ‘Black Ferns’ to take 3rd place in the tournament and saw a disappointing event for them.

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With the recent Rugby World Cup concluding a few weeks ago, if we look at the Women’s Rugby World Cup we see that the current holders of the trophy isn’t that of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa or even a Southern hemisphere team at all.

The current champions are England and seen them crowned champions in 2014 after they defeated a tough Canadian team to lift the trophy for the second time.

England’s Women have dominated the scene in the Northern hemisphere form for many years including a title reign that lasted for 7 straight season, that was up until Ireland broke that streak and hasn’t seen the ‘Red Rose’ nation regaining the title ever since.

The previous World Cup’s have seen England reaching the final and coming second best on three previous occasions, with each time losing out to New Zealand. However the 2014 World Cup saw a different result and finally saw them lifting the title beating Canada 21-9 in France.

The men have in all forms of the ‘big 3’ sports have all massively disappointed in tournaments and in the case of football, a lot of people within media circles and fans alike question their passion and interest for honours.

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For cricket and rugby they don’t lack in effort as such, what they do just lack is the ability to put it altogether and also the mental toughness being a bit of a contributing factor.  

Of course the last World Cup victory that the men enjoyed was back in Autumn of 2003, with that magical drop goal by Johnny Wilkinson delivering a knock-out blow to the host nation in the Rugby World Cup in Australia, and written themselves into England sporting folklore.

Hopefully in the near future someone can write a new chapter in English sporting history and it not being another case of ‘close, yet so far’.

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ICE HOCKEY: Giants Edge Out Storm in Shootout

Ice Hockey

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 MANCHESTER STORM   1 – 2  BELFAST GIANTS

(After shootout)

After nine rounds of penalties shots it saw the Belfast Giants getting the better of the Manchester Storm in a shootout, with Mike Radja netting the decisive shot for the Northern Ireland outfit to claim a 2-1 win.

Manchester started like a bull in a China shop to begin with, as they nearly went ahead in the opening thirty seconds of the match when a shot on the Belfast nets seemed to catch Stephen Murphy by surprise and resulted with him stumbling backwards and taking the goals off.

Storm put the Belfast defence under severe pressure and had them struggling to contain the Altrincham side for a lot of the first period.  Murphy made a couple of stops and saw his efforts thwart the home side come to an end after Latvian Defenseman Ricards Birzinsh found twine to see the home side one up.

Belfast were lucky not to be further behind as they were battered in the first period and had to weather the proverbial Storm (pardon the pun). Stephen Murphy returned to the rink where he called home back in 2009 with the Manchester Phoenix, and it saw him forced into making some important stops for the Giants.

Despite out shooting and arguably putting on their best first period display of the season, the Storm just couldn’t find the elusive second goal that their play truly deserved.

Typically the Giants tied things up early on in the second frame while on the powerplay, as at 20:41 Colin Shields wrist shot flew in after work by Mitch Ganzak and Brandon Benedict saw them assisting Shields on the tying goal.

Belfast managed to force their way back into the game and saw Zane Kalemba in the Manchester goals not being tested more and being forced into making a couple of good saves to keep it level.

In the third and both sides looked to be tiring after a tough weekend and made the game a bit more open and always looking like heading to an overtime period.  

With the game heading to an extra period, it saw Manchester with a great opportunity to take the points late on, but once more Murphy came up big for the Giants to deny them.  

Penalties was needed to determine a winner in this game and with neither side able to find the net in the first eight penalty shots, we headed to sudden death penalties. Most of the Manchester penalties were either tame shots or the players trying to be too clever for their good and had them unable to get a shot off.

Belfast found it it hard to come by in beating Zane Kalemba, but eventually something had to give with no sides netting a goal.  So after Matt Caria failed to even have register a shot after Murphy poked it away, it saw Mike Radja for the Giants step up and become the hero of the hour for his team and scored past the netminder for the game winner.

It was case of the Storm not capitalising on their domination in the first, plus trying the trick goalie instead of registering a proper penalty cost the hosts a possible victory.  Manchester will look to bounce back next weekend with games against Fife on the road and at home to Cardiff next Sunday.

ICE HOCKEY: Storm Qualify For Quarter-Finals & Rumble The Capitals

Ice Hockey

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MANCHESTER STORM   5        EDINBURGH CAPITALS  2 

A couple of braces for Matt Caria and man of the match Matt Sisca helped the Manchester Storm snap their four-game losing streak as they defeated the in form Edinburgh Capitals at the Altrincham Ice rink to leapfrog above the Coventry Blaze prior to the sides meeting on Sunday evening.

Manchester with their short bench drafted in Scott McKenzie from the NIHL side Widnes Wild and also brought up Jared Dickinson from their sister team the Altrincham Aces for the encounter.

The home side took the lead after a quick break up ice saw Luke Salazar poking the puck into the path of Matt Sisca and his pass across ice saw Matt Caria back from suspension giving them an early goal after 33 seconds gone in the game.

Caria then turned from goal scorer to provider, with the Canadian dazzling with some quick hands before then backhanding across the face of goal for Paul Phillips to lift over Carsen Chubak for a 2-0 lead at 12.37.

Edinburgh was playing their third game in four nights and arguably the effects were starting to show on their side, while Manchester were the aggressors in the game and unlike Wednesday night against Sheffield, the Storm were able to getting that insurance marker to take a 2-0 lead going into the first break.

In the second period and there was a bit controversy over the Capitals first goal of the game, after Kyle Bigos drove to the net and looked to Interfere with Zane Kalemba in the Manchester goals as the tall American forward fell on top of him and that allowed Taylor Dickin to quickly collect the puck and jam the puck home at 23:43 with Storm players not happy with the goal standing.

Manchester dominated the opening two periods of play and despite the pressure that they were exerting on their opponents, they could only manage a one goal lead as they headed into the third period 2-1 up and were looking good for their lead too.

With the third under way some thoughts may have lingered around the rink of whether the Storm had a positive mentality going into the period, having watched the Altrincham side on many occasions this early on in the season giving up leads in the final period and snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in many games so far.

Those worries looked to have dispersed when Matt Sisca was first to a loose puck and saw his quick release finding the back of the net which saw him finally picking up a deserved goal in the game, after assisting on the two previous efforts to give the Storm a 3-1 lead at 44.59.

However the Capitals pulled one back straight away through Jacob Johnston effort less than a minute later at 45.27, as a shot from Taylor Dickin got blocked by a Storm defenceman and seen the puck come straight to Ryan Hayes who in turn passed to the free Johnston and he fired by the netminder at the near post to see a 3-2 hockey game.

With the game getting tense and both sides going close for different reasons, it saw the home side finally getting the fourth goal and decisive one at that, to kill off the Scottish side in the contest.

New signing Latvian Ricards Birzins set off Matt Sisca and Luke Salazar in attack and after Salazar’s little chip pass behind the Caps’ back line, it saw the forward collect the puck and Sisca slipped it home for a 4-2 score and all but gave the Storm victory in this Gardiner Conference match-up.

Edinburgh pulled the goalie for the extra attacker as they looked to try and find some way back in the contest, but after a few failed efforts by the hosts to score it was left to Matt Caria to score the empty net goal and see Storm moving off the bottom of the table with a 5-2 win as he shot it into the unguarded net and saw him finish off a good night’s work for him.

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Luke Salazar celebrates the 3rd from the Storm : Photo courtesy of Lewis Cleveland


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COVENTRY BLAZE       1           MANCHESTER STORM  3

Sunday night saw the Storm travelling down the M6 to Coventry and where their meeting with the Blaze in the Challenge Cup became a winner takes all contest in reality with the victors advancing through to the Quarter-Finals of the Challenge Cup.  

Coventry had a good chunk of the play in the first period but the Storm and Zane Kalemba made sure to keep the Blaze out with some good blocks and defending. Ricards Birzins should have made it 1-0 for the visitors, but he managed to somehow lift the puck over the net and out of play with an open goal to aim at.

In the second and Manchester were making it difficult on themselves with the side unable to convert their chances that they were creating in the Blaze end and saw Sisca missing a sitter.

Eventually they finally managed to get the puck in the net through Matt Caria at 36:16 as the forward was quick to react to the loose puck on the Blaze doorstep and and it saw him putting in at close range.

Early in the third period the player-coach of the Storm in Omar Pacha fired in a second for his side as Manchester was looking comfortable in the game.  That was until Brett Robinson scored at 57:51 for the Blaze to set up a tense finale and had Coventry not yet giving up hope of tying the game.

With the home side having cutting the lead in half from pulling their goalie for the extra man and scoring, it then saw Luke Salazar skating on goal and neatly guide it home for an empty netter after Coventry tried to pull the same trick twice and failed.

The win for Manchester not only saw them picking up a 4 point weekend, with two in the league and two in the Challenge cup group. But it also saw them recording their first road win in 12 years since the Storm name came back to British Ice Hockey.


Women’s Football: Arsenal claim 4th Cup Crown in controversial Final

Women's Football

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NOTTS COUNTY     0                                     ARSENAL LADIES  3

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ROTHERHAM, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 01: Jordan Nobbs of Arsenal Ladies celebrates with the trophy during the WSL Continental Cup Final between Arsenal Ladies and Notts County Ladies at The New York Stadium on November 1, 2015 in Rotherham, England. (Photo by Tony Marshall - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

ROTHERHAM, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 01: Jordan Nobbs of Arsenal Ladies celebrates with the trophy during the WSL Continental Cup Final between Arsenal Ladies and Notts County Ladies at The New York Stadium on November 1, 2015 in Rotherham, England. (Photo by Tony Marshall – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

Arsenal Ladies won their fourth Continental Tyres Cup in five years this past weekend with thanks to Jordan Nobbs scoring twice for the Gunners in a 3-0 win over Notts County Ladies at the AESSEAL New York Stadium in Rotherham.

Despite the North London side lifting the trophy once more and playing the better football in the contest that sadly will be lost due to a controversial incident that ruined the game.

Prior to the incident in question it saw Notts County nearly going ahead within the opening thirty-seconds of the final after a slip-up by an Arsenal defender in the area let in the Lady Pies and it had County unable to capitalise on the early error.

Rikki Clarke came closer for Notts County soon after, after a ball into the area saw her diverting the ball agonisingly just past the wrong side of Sari Van Veenendaal post and had Arsenal get let off once more.

County’s next effort on goal came in the form of the England defender Laura Bassett as her effort on goal brought out a good save from Van Veenendaal in the Arsenal goals to see the East Midlands side on top at that point in time.

Arsenal then began to get stuck in and saw them clawikng their way back into the contest, with County’s keeper Carly Telford making a very good stop to deny the Gunners attackers and kept it goalless.  

The pressure by the three times champions of this tournament told, as they broke the deadlock on 26 minutes in when a through ball for Jordan Nobbs saw her run onto it and then fire it past Telford at the near post to see the North London side 1-0 up.

With Notts County a goal down and battling to get back on level terms what happened next curtailed their hopes in the game and effectively kill the game. As a controversial sending off by Jane Simms saw her showing the Red card to Laura Bassett for a hard a challenge on Vicky Losada despite the England defender getting the ball first and didn’t seem to any more than a yellow card at most.

The Arsenal side weren’t happy with the tackle and it could be said that their complaints to the Referee may well have influenced the match official’s events of things and that saw her sending the County player off and had those in the crowd of both sides shocked at the decision.

That one decision changed the whole of the face of final and had now sadly become a foregone conclusion from that point onwards.  Close decisions seemed to go in favour of the Londoners and a very frustrated and irate County side found themselves being harshly penalised on a few fouls after that turning point.

Arsenal though took full advantage of a clearly distracted opposition when Jordan Nobbs doubled the lead and her own goal account in the final as she scored the goal of the game on 41 minutes as her 25 yard curling shot beat Telford in the Lady Pies goals.  That goal looked to take all the wind out of the Nottingham club and see Arsenal 2-0 up.

The final action in the first half saw Rachel Williams having her header hitting the bar from a cross and getting of danger as that was the closest County came to scoring in the game.

In the second 45 it saw Arsenal always in control and never looked to be in any trouble at all in the game, but credit to Notts County they didn’t give up and had a couple of half chances to see them still pestering the North London side and have them not going down without a fight.

Desiree Scott nearly got on the scoresheet for Notts County ten minutes from time as her volley just cleared the bar and much to the relief for the their opponents. Arsenal then showed the difference between the two sides as they were far more clinical in their finishing than was County.

Substitute for Arsenal in Chioma Ubogagu sealed the victory for Arsenal Ladies as she ghosted by into the area saw her shot slowly trickled in over the back post to see the Gunners once again crowned champions after what they may refer to a blip in last year’s final.

Notts County will look back in anger at that decision to send off Laura Bassett and point to it as the one major incident in the game was spoiled by a poor match official and left many feeling robbed.