ICE Hockey: Schultz Double Blows Away Storm

Updated_New_Manchester_Storm_Logo_2015 Panthers-News

Manchester Storm   2   –   4   Nottingham Panthers

 

Two powerplay goals in the third helped steer the Nottingham Panthers to a victory over the Manchester Storm on Sunday night as they beat the Altrincham side 4-2 with two strikes by Stephen Schultz proving the difference in the Elite League encounter.   

After the 4-0 hammering the Storm suffered at hand of their opponents the night before at the NIC (National Ice Centre) it saw the visitors looking to carry on their form from where they had left off on the Saturday game. Nottingham looked much the brighter team in the opening exchanges of the game and had the home side struggling to even register a shot on target in the early minutes of the game as the Panthers had Manchester of the back foot from the off.  

With the hosts being outplayed at the start it saw the Panthers taking a well deserved lead in the game at 3:22 as David Ling netted to put the visitors ahead in the game after the Storm failed to clear their lines. The opening goal all came from Panthers pressure as they played it around the front of the Storm goal and with Zane Kalemba already down and committed to previous save that allowed Ling who was unmarked to take a touch and fire into mostly a gaping net and have the ‘Panthers Nation’ up on their feet early.

With Nottingham playing some good hockey in the period and looking to be complete control of the game it needed the home side to respond quickly and the Storm were happy to obliged. As a a breakout pass by Vinny Scarsella saw Grant Toulmin bustling his way through the Nottingham defence and after his effort was blocked Matt Caria was quick to gaining possession of the puck and skated round the net before lifting it over Shane Madolora in the visitors net to see a 1-1 game at 9:15.

Storm then took the lead late on in the period through a powerplay strike by Matt Sisca as his low drive on goal took a big deflection at the front of the net and ended up nestling in the bottom corner. Arguably Nottingham were the better side in the period and their coach Corey Neilson must have been thinking how they were behind going in at the break at 2-1 down.  In the second period the Storm looked a lot better and almost increased their lead with a quick one time shot by Patrik Valcak but the Panthers netminder in Madolora denied the Czech forward with a good save to keep the score as it was.

The home side had a couple of powerplays coming their way one after another and when Matt Caria tried to force his way round the back of the Nottingham defence it saw him being upended by Paul Swindlehurst, which led to another man advantage for Manchester. Sadly much like the game against Belfast earlier in the week, the Storm were unable to even get into a position to shoot and saw the Panthers killing the penalty off successfully.

At 34:04 Nottingham got back on level terms thanks to Stephen Schultz after some brilliant work by the Panthers duo of firstly Paul Swindlehurst saw him keeping the puck in the zone and shooting it round the boards, before David Ling then turned Devin Didiomete inside out behind the Manchester net and made a pass out towards the back door for Schultz who on the second attempt made it a 2-2 game.

Third period saw a slightly tactical game being played out by both hockey sides, as neither wanted to concede as we approached the business end of the game. Mike Folkes was then called for hooking on a Nottingham player and from that penalty came the go ahead goal for the away side as Schultz blasted a one time shot past Kalemba from a David Clarke pass to see the Panthers move 3-2 up at 46:13.

Manchester fans then had their collective hearts in their mouths a bit later on, after Vinny Scarsella took a heavy hit and saw him hitting the the Ice and staying down before being helped up and led back to the locker room where the American would rejoin the action a little bit later on the game but was in lot of discomfort.

A call against Paul Phillips for an accidental high stick saw the Storm man catching his opponent in the face with his stick right in front of the referee and that led to another powerplay chance for the Panthers. Matthew Myers then put the game to bed for the visitors with over two minutes of the contest left to go, as Myers tucked home from close range to see the Nottingham side going 4-2 up and end all hopes of a comeback for the home team. 

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ICE HOCKEY: Steelers Taste ‘Swede’ Success In Late Show

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SHEFFIELD STEELERS    3    –    2    CARDIFF DEVILS 

 

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A late goal by Steelers Swedish star Fredrik Vestberg just over two minutes from time, saw the game dramatically won by the Sheffield Steelers after the home side rallied late on in the final period to come back from a goal down to win 3-2 over the league leaders the Cardiff Devils in a top of the table clash at the Sheffield Arena in front a healthy crowd of 5,671.

The early stages of the contest saw a tight affair with both netminders facing some rubber from their respective opposition, but it then saw the home side starting to take control of the contest.  Sheffield went close with an early effort that saw the puck pinging off the pipework and going clear of danger.

Cardiff netminder Ben Bowns made a couple of important stops from the Steelers forwards, with the Sheffield native thwarting the home side from taking the lead in the game. It saw the visitors seemingly adopting a defensive approach to their game and seemed content to just try to soak up the Steelers pressure and then hit hosts on the break.

The hosts went even closer to breaking the deadlock with Mathieu Roy as the Canadian brought out another good stop from Bowns and he was proving to be brick wall between the pipes for the Devils. Frustration then seemed to come out at times on the home side as Zack Fitzgerald started to throw a few punches at Andrew Hotham of Cardiff after a scrum around the Devils net and saw the Cardiff man not interested.

Hewitt then came agonisingly close for Sheffield minutes later in the period when his backhanded effort went through the keepers legs and drifted slowly millimetres past the post. A wave of Orange shirts doing all the attacking and looking the likelier to score, it was seemed inevitable that the Devils would open the scoring and they did against the run of play at 19:43.

The goal came from a Devils attack late on as the puck was spat out by the boards towards the front of the net in the Sheffield zone, which then saw Jake Morrisette having his legs taken out from under him by a diving Ryan Hayes and Ryan Russell was quickly onto it to fire the Devils in front. 

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With 34 seconds gone in the second period it saw a hush in the arena as Marek Pinc suffered a heavy bump after Chris Culligan accidentally collided with the netminder and saw him take an awkward tumble. Pinc received lengthy treatment down on the Ice before managing to skate off under his own power and clutching his collarbone, with the Steelers putting in netminder Bradley Day for the rest of the game.

 Cardiff played a smart road game and saw them soaking up a fair amount of pressure from the home side and had them creating more efforts than the opening period, with Day turning away a few shots and some stunning saves too.  Sheffield tested Bowns more so in the period as Levi Nelson came close for the Yorkshire side and then a nice little one-two between Tyler Mosienko and Luke Ferrara, saw Mosienko seeing his effort stopped again by the Devils goalie as he kept the Steelers at bay.

As the game went into the third period, it saw Sheffield pushing forward to tie the game up but in doing so it did leave the back boor open for several attacks for the Welsh side. Luckily for Sheffield Bradley Day was having a baptism of fire in goals for the hosts as he snuffed out the attacks by the Devils.  Both teams had chances and made for an exciting game from a neutrals viewpoint, but frustrating if you was in Orange and nerve wrecking if in Red.  At 45:15 it saw the Steelers levelling things up through Jason Hewitt, with the testimonial man just getting enough of the puck to deceive Ben Bowns and see it go past him and making it a tied game at 1-1.


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Sheffield had their tails well and truly up now and with Cardiff still trying to pick offthe home side at certain points of the game, it saw a Swedish connection that lead to the game turning in the favour of the hosts. With the match approaching the final two minutes, it saw Conny Stromberg turning on the blue line snapping a quick effort off on goal and saw Fredrik Vestberg tipping the puck over the shoulder of Bowns to put the Steelers 2-1 in front to an ecstatic Sheffield Arena crowd.

Cardiff then pulled their netminder with less than a minute to go and as they looked to tie the game up. With the Devils chasing the game now it led to the Steelers new boy Ryan Hayes firing up Ice and netting an empty net goal to seal the game for Sheffield and looked to be game set and match. That wasn’t the case though, as with Jason Hewitt sitting a roughing penalty with 16 seconds left to go in the game it saw the Devils pulling a goal back through a one time blast from Carl Hudson to make it 3-2 with 12 seconds to go and give the Welsh side a slither of hope.

However it proved to be too late for Cardiff as the Steelers held on and cut the lead at the top to four points with Sheffield having two games in hand on their rival at the top.

ICE HOCKEY: Shootout Heartbreak as Storm Just Fall Short

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MANCHESTER STORM      6    –    7    FIFE FLYERS

 

Manchester Storm suffered a penalty shootout misery against the Fife Flyers in a barn burner of a game at the Altrincham Ice Rink on Sunday evening, with the Kirkcaldy side taking the extra point on offer in the Gardiner Conference.   

Fife opened the scoring when David Phillips was in the penalty box for tripping, it saw TJ Caig throwing the puck on net and his rising shot beat Zane Kalemba in the Storm nets for 1-0 at 2:22. At 9:19 we saw the long awaited meeting of Devin Didiomete and Danny Stewart clashing and dropping the gloves.

It started from Stewart being chucked out of the face off and lined up against Didiomete and the two players then locked eyes and decided to take their frustrations out on each other and both players landed punches with Didiomete getting the take down to edge the fight.

Manchester had come out a bit flat and with this being their third game in three games and it was always going to be difficult with the energy levels, but that fight seemed to spark the crowd and the players more so on the ice a bringing the Storm back into the game. With the hosts registering one shot on their two previous power plays, it was third time lucky for Storm as some silky moves by Matt Caria resulted in him firing a low shot through the five-hole of David Brown to make it 1-1 at 15:55, just prior to the first break in the game.

In the second period Grant Toulmin made it 2-1 as he stretched out to knock the puck in from a Matt Caria pass to the back post and   the hosts were on top in the game for the first time  at 24:18. Justin Fox then levelled the game for the Flyers at 28:55 on the power play with both the Hull duo of Matty Davies and David Phillips sitting penalties  for a 5 on 3 for the Flyers.  

Manchester was awarded a power play when Philippe Paquet was called for tripping on Luke Salazar and gave the home side a chance to go back in front. From the resulting man advantage that was just what happened, as Salazar and Vinny Scarsella moved the puck around before Paul Phillips fired the puck home past Brown to make it 3-2 to the home team and see the fourth power play goal of the game and a theme for six of the goals in this game.

Fox then grabbed his second of the game as a Shayne Stockton effort was saved by Kalemba and when Mike Folkes tried to clear it,  it went straight to the Flyers number nine and he despatched it into the back of the net making the scoreline 3-3.

Another power play for Fife was capitalised on at 36:50, as Ryan Dingle slammed home a pass from Nico Sacchetti at the front of the net to give the handful of fans who had made the long trip something to cheer. Less than a minute later and the sides were back on level terms again after Paul Phillips fired a shot through the legs of Brown to make it 4-4 as we headed into the third.

Michael Dorr then put the visitors back in front at 5-4 with a tip in from a Philippe Paquet low drive. With 16:29 left to play in the game, the question was would Manchester still have enough in the tank to come back again.  The answer was yes, as an unlikely source scored the goal to tie the game at 47:21.

Matty Davies and Omar Pacha tried to work something after a successful face-off. The player coach of the Storm, Omar Pacha’s throw on net was deflected in by none other than Devin Didiomete to equal the score at 5-5 . 

Once again Manchester failed to clear the puck with Shayne Stockton netting after Caig’s pass, looped up in the air after hitting a stick and Stockton struck the puck quickly to make it 6-5 and that looked to be the game winner with 7:38 left in the game.  

Manchester seemed to have had a bit of a confidence booster this weekend and that was evident when Kalemba was pulled for the extra attacker, which then had Caria battling for the puck in the Fife end and pulled it back for Grant Toulmin at the front of the net to shoot low on Brown and make it 6-6 which took the game to overtime with the goal timed at 58:48.

The overtime period brought no further goal mouth action and so the lottery of the penalties were needed. Both teams netted their opening two shots with Shayne Stockton and Justin Fox for Fife and Vinny Scarsella and Matt Caria for Storm. 

Michael Dorr and Matt Sisca both missed and so we headed to sudden death and saw Stockton and Scarsella both missing their second penalties and when Matt Caria got himself into a mess, Justin Fox had the chance to win it for Fife and a crafty little move by him saw Kalemba committed and Fox then back handed it in under the goalie for the winning shot which gave the Flyers the extra point. 

A three point weekend out of six is arguably a successful one considering, but they will think it was a chance lost against a fellow side nearer the bottom of the table.

 

ICE Hockey: Storm ‘CAP’ Off Scottish Road Trip with Win

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EDINBURGH CAPITALS    6  –  7   MANCHESTER STORM

 

Part two of the Scottish double-header for the Manchester Storm saw them beating their nearest rivals in the table in Edinburgh Capitals 7-6 up at Murrayfield Ice Rink in what was a thrilling game of hockey to watch. Storm forward Matt Sisca had an opening period to remember with the Canadian registering two goals and three assists in the victory.

Things got off to a flying start for Manchester as with 21 seconds gone    Matt Paton sweept home a loose rebound at the front of the net to go into  the lead with Vinny Scarsella and Matt Sisca assisting.  Manchester then doubled their score at 6:32  when David Phillips set Matt Sisca away and the forward skated one on one with Carsen Chubak and found the back of the net to make it 2-0 to the delight of the travelling fans.

Matt Paton then made it 3-0 at 7:52 with a deflection out in front of the net from a David Phillips shot assisted by Sisca and his tipped in effort had the whole crowd in disbelief, with the hosts unable to believe what was happening and the away fans shocked at the amazing hockey they were playing. Storm just seemed to click and every shot they made felt like a goal was coming on every attack they made.

Matt Sisca then doubled his scoring tally for the night and made it his fourth point of the game as his blast just inside the Edinburgh zone was too good for Chubak to stop. Storm were now 4-0 up inside ten minutes of play and it looked to be game,set and match at that point of the game.

Devin Didiomete then shot the puck out of play to give the hosts a chance at getting something going and at 12:31 they did. Trevor Gerling scored on the powerplay with a well worked moved between Brandon Coccimiglio and Paul Zanette setting up Gerling to make it 4-1.

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When luck is on your side it helps and when Sisca, who had a stunning period, threw a puck on net it was the least threatening effort the Storm had in the entire period, but the puck was batted down by a Capitals defenceman and changed direction to see it go in the bottom corner and give Manchester a 5-1 lead after the opening twenty minutes of play.

Edinburgh tightened up a lot in the game after the first period and got the scoring under way in the second through a quick release from Paul Zanette  beating Zane Kalemba to give the home fans hope of a possible comeback in the match.  Those hopes were dashed over a minute later when Matt Caria smashed home goal number six for the Storm from a Grant Toulmin pass at 24:19 which looked to give the advantage back to the visiting side. 

This contest took another twist when Trevor Gerling netted his second and Edinburgh’s third for a 6-3 score after Zanette had an inventive shot from close range blocked but had Gerling on hand to lift it over the netminder for the rebound to make it a three goal game at the 27:51 mark. Vinny Scarsella then created space brilliantly in the lead up to his goal, as he played it off the board and made a spin move before moving in on goal firing past Chubak for a 7-3 Storm lead and this looked to be the nail in the coffin for the hosts.

Manchester are statistically the worst side for conceding goals in the third period and that statistic continued. We saw a battling display by the home side in not giving up and trying to work for everything possible. With two minutes gone in the final period, Trevor Gerling netting his hat trick with another goal at the back post as no one seemed to know  where the puck was to see the Capitals making a three goal game again at 7-4.

Kyle Bigos then made it a two goal game with less than 9 minutes to play as his big blast flew in by Kalemba to make it 7-5 which put some doubts in the minds of Storm supporters, who have seen their team blow countless leads from impossible situations.

With Edinburgh huffing and puffing at the Storm door, the referee awarded the hosts a sixth goal but there was some doubt over this goal. Paul Zanette found himself open and played a little pass to the side of the net for Ned Lukacevic and when the Storm goalie stopped him, he flipped the puck over and had Zanette bat the puck towards the goal and seemed to have been stopped from going in.

However the referee Rab Cowan stretched his arm out to signal a goal and drew a couple of complaints from the Manchester players and netminder Zane Kalemba especially who looked like he had made a stunning save from the scorer.

With Edinburgh now bouncing and the Storm struggling to hold on, the ability, or lack of, to kill a game off this season for the visitors looked to have reared it’s ugly head again and it needed a brilliant save late on from Kalemba to see the Storm claiming the two points, and two crucial ones at that, as that horn sounded.

Manchester will hope to make it a better weekend when they entertain the Fife Flyers in their third consecutive Gardiner Conference match up.

 

 

 

ICE HOCKEY: Braehead Punish Sloppy Storm

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 BRAEHEAD CLAN           6      –     3      MANCHESTER STORM                           

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Friday night saw the travelling Manchester Storm kicking off their Scotland double-header North of the Border with a comprehensive defeat to the Braehead Clan in Glasgow.  Brendan Brooks netted twice in the win for the Clan as they remain unbeaten against Storm this season.  Four second period goals helped them to a 6-3 victory at the Braehead Arena due to a very sloppy defensive display by the Storm as a whole. 

Braehead looked the better side and came close to scoring with their forwards just unable to get the puck past Storm netminder Zane Kalemba. Ben Davies then celebrated his call up to the GB National side this week with a goal as the Welsh forward tipped in a Ric Jackman throw on net to give the Clan a 1-0 lead at 5:27.

Manchester also found their attacks coming at a premium as the Clan’s defence held firm against the Storm and also had netminder Travis Fullerton equal to all shots faced from the visitors’ shooters.

Braehead doubled their lead at 26.35 after Manchester netminder Zane Kalemba failed to gather the puck from a Alex Leavitt shot, that then allowed Captain Adam Keith to kick the puck away from the netminder and had a simple tap in for 2-0. A wonderfully constructed goal between Keith and Alex Leavitt saw a pass laid off for Bari McKenzie and the Braehead man fired under the glove of Kalemba to make it 3-0.

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The Purple Army in the Corner

3-0 then soon became 4-0 when Bari McKenzie struck a shot on target and had the rebound coming straight out to Brendan Brooks for the Clan, who then quickly put the puck the in the back of the net. This was beginning to be history repeating itself again on the television cameras for the Storm as they had lost to Dundee earlier in the year to a heavy defeat.

Paul Phillips then responded for the visitors to get them on the scoreboard at 4-1, with a nice finish to the far corner. Braehead then made it 5-1 with a terrible defensive error by Matty Davies in his own zone at 35:35, that had Omar Pacha making a drop pass to Davies and saw the Hull native caught out in possession and allowed Scott Pitt to take full advantage and fire home to restore the hosts four goal lead.

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Matt Sisca then scored Manchester’s second goal of the game at 36:52 as the Canadian tapped in from close range after a Vinny Scarsella pass to the back door was converted by Sisca and made it 5-2. In the third period there was some horrible defensive play as an under hit pass by Matt Caria saw Brendan Brooks chop the puck and with the Storm defenceman unable to gather it, Brooks easily score by Kalemba and had the Storm side being punished for yet more terrible defending.

Matt Sisca then scored his second of make the score 6-3 as Grant Toulmin battled hard to keep the puck in the zone and with Vinny Scarsella fighting on the boards for the puck, he found Sisca awaiting unmarked to slam home past Travis Fullerton at 54:16 to see the Storm cutting the deficit in half, but it was too late.

It wasn’t the result or even the performance that the Storm wanted as they are embarked on their first of three successive games in a row, but will look to Edinburgh on Saturday Night to get a much needed boost in the side.

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STORM FANS IN GLASGOW

Ice Hockey: Davies Double Sees Clan To Victory

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Manchester Storm       2   –  5      Braehead Clan 

Four goals in the third period saw the Braehead Clan moving into fourth place as they claimed their second victory in Altrincham this season, with two strikes from Ben Davies in the final period seeing his side holding out for a 5-2 victory over the Manchester Storm at the Altrincham Ice Rink on Sunday night.

The home side was the brighter side of the two in the first half of the period and saw Grant Toulmin bringing out a good save from Braehead Clan netminder Travis Fullerton as the Clan goalie deflected the puck out of play and had Fullerton being the busier of the two netminders as he managed some saves to keep the Storm shooters at bay.  Manchester had another great chance to open the scoring, when a puck went to the back post with Fullerton down stranded on the ice and saw the puck get under the skates of Grant Toulmin and the forward failed to capitalise on the play. With the Storm looking the more threatening side in the contest in the opening ten minutes of play, it was almost typical of the hosts luck this season that they would go behind, but the lead up to the goal angered Manchester’s player-coach Omar Pacha in the process.  

The build up saw Pacha getting man handled by the Clan’s Chris Bruton on the boards and saw him dumped to the ice behind toward the corner boards right in front of match referee Tom Pering, but with no call coming it saw the Storm man losing his stick in that incident and by the way he he rejoined play Bruton had found the back of the net with a quick little play with team mates Alex Leavitt and Matt Keith assisting at 9:47 gone in the game.  The home side seemed to have the wind taken out of their sails for a few minutes after going behind in the game and if not for some better finishing then score could easily have been the opposite way round, but Braehead couldn’t find a second goal before the period end.

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Braehead Clan fans celebrate their win 

Braehead created a couple of chances on Storm netminder Zane Kalemba early on in the second and the Storm goalie making a couple of some good saves to keep the scoreboard at 1-0. Manchester were knocking louder and louder on the visitors door, but just couldn’t find the finishing touch to see them getting the puck by Fullerton in the Braehead goals.  Play by the hosts was good and saw the hosts given three powerplay opportunities but struggled massively to make an type of pass towards their team mates when trying to work something in the Clan zone.

Finally the hosts broke through the defences of the Scottish side at 32:35 after a stunning goal by Patrik Valcak saw the Slovakian forward scoring his 12th goal of the season, as he started the play from behind his own goals and saw him play a little give and go with Luke Salazar and with some nifty stick handling saw Valcak score the goal of the game and tie the game up at 1-1.  At 34:12 Braehead’s Chris Bruton laid a big hit on Omar Pacha from behind and sent him crashing face first into the glass and was assessed an initial two plus ten minute call for checking from behind, and that was then upgraded to a five plus Match and gave the hosts a great chance of trying to take the lead. 

Instead it saw an appalling five minute powerplay by the Storm in truth, in which the hosts failed to get any kind of attacking play going and saw them more often than not passing the puck backwards out of the zone and closer to their own nets than that of their opponents. With every poorly made pass by Manchester in the five minute powerplay, it had the travelling ‘Purple Army’ cheering from the stands. Braehead themselves nearly scored short-handed during the man down and almost caught Manchester cold  but some great defensive work by Luke Salazar saw him making an important poke check to steer the puck away from an opponents stick.  With the period coming to at an end and tied at one a piece, it was pretty much a fair reflection of the game with neither side able to get the advantage over the other in the game.

The third period saw the Clan becoming more clinical as the game went on and showed that they still had a couple of extra gears to move up in with required.  Pering then called a penalty on Devin Didiomete for elbowing, as the Canadian made his return to the line up after his recent four match ban for his infamous penalty box incident against Fife, and saw the Clan striking immediately through Stefan Meyer as he redirected the puck in at 52:03 to see the visitors moving 3-1 up.

Manchester then pulled a goal back instantly through Matt Sisca as the forward tipped the puck in from Paul Phillips shot at the blue line to make it a 3-2 game at 53:34 and seemed to set up a tense finale to the back end of the game.  However with the two teams trading goals in as minutes, it then saw another goal being added to the scoreboard as Thomas Nesbitt smashed home a one time effort past Kalemba to restore the Clan’s two goal cushion for the Glasgow based side at 54:34 and all but give Braehead the victory.

However the Storm pushed for another goal to put pressure on the visitors and even risked pulling the goalie with just over a minute of play to go in the game, but Ben Davies firing the puck past Valcak as he played a makeshift goalie and saw Ryan Finnerty’s men taking the two points on offer and condemn the home side to another home loss. It was a chance missed by Manchester really, as less than 24 hours previously they had scored a stunning win up in Kirkcaldy where Grant Toulmin scored a treble to lead the Storm to a 6-4 victory over the Fife Flyers and kept the pressure on their nearest rivals in the table and also who they face next Saturday evening in the Edinburgh Capitals.

But before they face Edinburgh they have a tough trip to Glasgow as they face the Braehead Clan again on Friday evening, as they have 3 games in 3 nights, before finishing the long weekend off with a return match against the Fife Flyers on the Sunday Night in Altrincham.

Ice Hockey: Bison Stampede Over the Helpless Phoenix

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Basingstoke Bison  5 – 0  Manchester Phoenix

Saturday evening saw the English Premier League leaders the Basingstoke Bison opening up a five point gap at the top of the table and in the process showed off their title credentials with a dominant home display against a very below par Manchester Phoenix side, with the Hampshire side shutting the Phoenix out 5-0 at the Basingstoke Ice Arena.      

From the off it was pretty much one traffic and saw the Bison taking charge of the contest and had them out-shooting their visitors 48-28, with the away side unable to deal with the Bisons first line and especially in their tormentor over the past few seasons in Tomas Karpov.  Phoenix were never allowed to get a sniff in the game and saw the hosts taking the lead, when Ben Russell was caught massively out position from a long pass up ice from Stuart Mogg down the left wing and that set Karpov away and the Czech forward fired a fine shot past Steve Fone for the opener to the herd at 5:41.  Fone then made a string of stunning saves from the Basingstoke shooters and saw him as the stand out player from the away side in the whole game.

Manchester wasn’t allowed to create anything in the way of chances in the first period of play, as the home side was staunch at the back and didn’t give up many clear shots either. At 12:46 the Bison doubled their lead thanks to recent signing Matt Towalski tapping home at the back post for 2-0 after Manchester’s Martin Baranek had a delayed penalty against him for tripping up Ciaran Long in the lead up to the goal, and that allowed Basingstoke to ice the extra attacker and saw former Phoenix man Shaun Thompson finding Tomas Karpov who made an inch perfect ass at the back door for Towalski to easily tap in.

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In the second frame it saw Manchester who have suffered from being short benched and struggling for bodies for the majority of this season, looking to be more adventurous in attack and ironically when they did it was when they were short handed.  If the Phoenix harboured any hopes of getting back in the contest then those thoughts went up in smoke at 24:24, after Trent Hope got caught out twice in possession of the puck just inside his zone and that allowed ex Manchester man in Ciaran Long beating Fone with a cracking shot to move the home side 3-0 in front and saw it effectively game over.

Three then became four very quickly, with Phoenix captain Luke Boothroyd serving time in the penalty box for a delay of game call and that saw a well worked power play goal for the hosts at 25:44; with René Jarolin and Ciaran Long setting up Aaron Connolly to blast a big shot in from the point and had Fone unsighted.

The difference between the two sides got bigger as the match went on, with the Bison getting the bounces going their way and had their confidence growing with each play while for Manchester, they looked akin to lost sheep at times out on the ice and their play suffered from it with some mentally tired players and unsure about their play. Those Phoenix fans that made the long journey down didn’t have much in the way of excitement coming from their team in the match, but they did see their side carving two chances later on in the period.

All the Phoenix imports seems to show up in small bursts at times, with Stanislav Gron playing better in the second period and had a great chance to make it 4-1 but his shot was saved by Jon Baston in the Basingstoke goals. Martin Baranek then saw his goal ward effort blocked in the crease not by the netminder or a even an opposing player, but by his own team mate; with Robin Kovar sat on the ice and saw the Czech man turning and stopping the puck with Baranek already in the stages of wheeling away in joy only to see the puck avoid crossing the line. Another Phoenix attack of note saw Michal Satek poking and trying to force the puck over the line as best he could while Baston was down on the ice and had it covered, but in reality it was an extremely difficult decision to give to the goal from where the puck was.

Moving into the third period of play and it was pretty much in the same vain as the previous two periods, in with the hosts were in complete control and looked very good for their 4-0 lead.  So it didn’t come as any surprise to anyone when the home side extended their lead to 5-0 after another breakout saw the visitors caught out for the umpteenth time and saw René Jarolin getting a deserved goal. Joe Greener started the play and saw his pass finding Long and he spotted the movement of Jarolin who ghosted in a the back post to tuck the puck home for the goal and completing the rout.

Manchester was then awarded the chance of pulling a goal back from a Penalty shot, after Long had brought down Michal Satek when the forward got by the last man and saw the Phoenix man taken out on the play.  Satek took the penalty himself and saw his effort fired at the shoulder of Baston for a disappointing effort. With the game drawing to a close it saw a late chance going to Gron, but the Slovakian man just couldn’t lift his shot high enough over the Goalie to score and saw the hosts comfortably seeing the game out.

 

ICE HOCKEY: Pirates Plunder The Points At The Death

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MANCHESTER PHOENIX  4 – 5  HULL PIRATES

Two goals by new boy Martin Baranek proved to be in vain for the Manchester Phoenix as two late goals by the Hull Pirates shocked the home side and picked up their second win this season at Deeside with the Humberside outfit taking the win 5-4.

Manchester bossed the first period of play with the Phoenix having a lot of the puck possession inside the Pirates zone, but they just weren’t able to make anything of it in the way of goal scoring chances.  Robin Kovar went close for the hosts, after his shot hit the pipework and saw him going close again minutes later, but Pirates Latvian netminder Martins Raitums came up big to make an important stop from the Czech man.  Raitums was required once again by the visitors, with the goalie making a save late on from Stanislav Gron to keep the game scoreless when Gron had a one one one.

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With the game looking like it would be a goalless first period late on, it saw Stanislav Gron firing a wrist shot over the shoulder of Raitums to find the top corner and see the home side 1-0 up at 17:50.

In the second period it saw the Pirates starting to create a couple of chances as saw them coming more into the game a bit more with Nathan Salem going close for Hull and was putting himself about and causing the home defence some problems.  Those problems led to the opener for the Pirates, when a shot from Salem on Steve Fone saw him unable to gather the puck and got lost at the front of the net, before Tommi Laine took advantage of slack defending by the Manchester players around their net and tied the game at 26:40.

Manchester had a couple of powerplay opportunities towards the middle of the game and seen the hosts failing to make the most of their extra man advantage. Phoenix did then retake the lead at 36:13, as Martin Baranek scored on his home debut to see the hosts going 2-1 in front with James Archer and Robin Kovar assisting on his first goal for the club.

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That lead didn’t last too long though, after Warren Tait put in for the Pirates to see a 2-2 game with Salem and Laine combining on the goal and saw the game all square yet again. Hull had a couple of near misses and had the home side in a bit of bother while their visitors had there tails up well and truly from that tying goal by Tait.

Hull took an early lead in the 3rd period through that man Nathan Salem again at 40:25, and that saw the hearty souls from Humberside celebrating the early strike.  Manchester soon got back on level terms minutes later though, when Michal Satek deflected a shot in through the legs of Martins Raitums from a Ben Wood blast at 42:33 and made it a 3-3 game.

Hull then lost the services of Tom Ralph for the rest of the game, after the Pirates man caught Gareth O’Flaherty with a stray stick and drew blood which saw him given a 5 plus Match for high sticks coming at 45:07.  Phoenix then picked up a couple of needless penalties themselves on the five powerplay and saw them once again fail to make the most of their man advantage.

They did almost net a goal when Raitums was stranded on the ice, and that saw a Phoenix man put the puck on net and saw and his shot hit the inside of the post and come straight out across the crease and into the relief glove of the goalie.

The hosts didn’t need to wait too long for their go ahead goal, as Martin Baranek netted his second of the game after the Czech forward slipped it the puck through the legs of the netminder to see Phoenix lead 4-3 at 46:32 with Mark Thomas picking up the assist.

Manchester nearly doubled their lead a bit later in the game, when James Archer saw his effort ping off the goal post and away to safety. Hull was under the cosh a bit towards the end of the game, but they had chances too with Warren Tait and Tommi Laine going close for the Pirates as they hadn’t given in this contest yet.

Phoenix was looking on course to hold out in the game, but with 1:59 left in the regulation it saw Lee Bonner converting from close range to see the Pirates tying the game up at 4-4 and set up a possibly more late drama.

However the visitors weren’t finished and didn’t want to go to overtime, so with 1:13 on the board it saw Tommi Laine steal the game from the home side after an error in the Phoenix defence which allow the Pirates forward to fire in and saw the small band of away supporters celebrate the late winner.

With just over a minute left to play in the contest, it Manchester pushing forward to trying net an equaliser, but Hull broke up any plays that the hosts tried to create and for the second time this season the Pirates sailed away with the points late on and looked to have the Phoenix number on the road.

 

ICE HOCKEY: Steelers Rally To Stun Storm in Thriller

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MANCHESTER STORM 4 – 5 SHEFFIELD STEELERS
(after Overtime)

New Years Day Ice hockey came to Altrincham and saw same problems resurface for the Manchester Storm, as the hosts surrendered a three goal lead on home ice once more this season and imploded in the third period to lose 5-4 in overtime to the Sheffield Steelers.

With not a spare seat in the rink to register the first ever sellout crowd for the New boys to the league this year, It saw many having to stand in what was one of the biggest sporting draws in North West on first day of 2016. Old rivalries were renewed as the ‘War of the Roses’ took place with the South Yorkshire club making the trip over the hills in what was an exciting game of hockey.

Manchester came out on fire against the Steelers and nearly went ahead in the opening minute of the game through a Matt Sisca effort that was saved by Marek Pinc in the Sheffield goals. The hosts continued to stay on top of their opponents in the game but without really anything to show for it.

Storm went one up through a bizarre goal, when Darrell Hay tried to play the puck away from the corner boards and instead got his angles wrong and banked it in off the back of his goalie at 8:41, to see the home side go in front.  Manchester had a couple more chances as they looked to add to their lead, but they they just couldn’t find a second goal.  Sheffield conjured up a couple of attacks too, but Zane Kalemba made some good stops in the Storm net to make sure the host led going into the first break.

Second period saw the Steelers getting on the board after Zack Fitzgerald came down the left wing and saw him playing a delicate pass across the face of goal, where Manchester-born Jason Hewitt was on hand to tap home at 21:51 and get the visitors all square.  Much like the Fife game when the Storm conceded, it saw the home team strike right back through an unlikely source in Adam Harding as the guest from the EPL side the Swindon Wildcats saw Matt Paton and Vinny Scarsella setting up Harding at 22:14 to put the hosts back in front.

Manchester then extended it 35 seconds later  when Matt Sisca and Grant Toulmin broke away up ice and saw Patrik Valcak fire in his 11th goal of the season to put the Storm 3-1 up at 22:49 with some awful defending by the away side.  Steelers Zack Fitzgerald was in the thick of the action again, when he dropped the gloves with Mike Folkes and saw him lay a punch right on the money and saw the Manchester defenseman hitting the deck and looked groggy from it, but also saw Fitzgerald picking up a cross checking call in the lead up to it.

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Sellout crowd in Altrincham Ice Rink

The home side then extended their lead once more on the resulting powerplay thanks to Patrik Valcak second of the game, as at 26:00 more sloppy play from the Sheffield defence saw them in deep deep trouble and looked like the game was taken away from that at that point.  Manchester sensed blood but the visitors tighten up at the back and started to slowly cut out little errors that they were making.

Heading to the third and  it seemed like it would a huge scalp taken for the Storm being 4-1 up after two, but what followed was an extraordinary third period that no one could have predicted. Manchester for the final period seemed to invite the Yorkshire club to come at them and soak up all the pressure, but at the same time they seemed to forgo their attacking play and turn defensive.

With Manchester adopting a different style to what they were playing in the first two periods of putting their opponents in trouble, It saw the Steelers pulling a goal back through GB International Ben O’Connor as he made it 4-2 and cut the lead in half at 45:15.  Sheffield netted another one 33 seconds later, with Russ Moyer firing through traffic to bring it to a one goal game and the home fans were thinking surely the Storm wouldn’t give up what seemed an almost impossible lead to give up.

Only a couple of days before down in Cardiff the Storm had given up a two goal lead on that occasion and saw them lose out to the Cardiff Devil 5-2 and so Manchester fans were hoping history would not repeat itself again. Sheffield piled the pressure on the home side and seen the hosts all but give up their offensive side to the game now and were trying to make sure they didn’t concede a fourth goal.  Most of the home fans were clearly frustrated by the home side sitting back and not coming forward much.

The period saw the Steelers out shooting their opponents 19 to 4, with the visitors going closer and closer with each attempt on the Storm net. Head coach of the Sheffield Steelers in Paul Thompson then called a time out and saw him pulling his goalie for the extra attacker, to see Steelers on a 6 on 5 man advantage with 1:22 left to go in the game.

What ever he told his players it seemed to work, after Rob Dowd and Levi Nelson worked the puck from face-off and saw a rocket from Ben O’Connor again beating Zane Kalemba and sending the travelling Orange army into raptures and left the home fans wondering just what on earth they were witnessing in front of their eyes. Manchester’s players reaction was a mix of dejection and pure frustration from letting an almost impossible victory slip once more through their fingers and had the home side looking like a beaten side at 4-4.

Storm then had a couple of late shot on Marek Pinc and saw him save one without his knowledge and was a chance gone blown well and truly for the home side as the momentum had swung dramatically the other way.  Overtime was needed for the extra point and saw referee Tom Pering awarding a penalty shot to the away side, where Fredrik Vestberg stepped up for the Steelers and was stopped by Zane Kalemba to see the game continue. Manchester looked shot both physically and mentally and saw them fail to register a single shot in the extra period of the game, but the fifth shot that the visitors registered proved to be the winner.

Levi Nelson wound up for a big shot that was rising and looked to come off a high stick by Jeff Legue and that saw the puck deflecting in off a Storm man stick to deceive the netminder and seal a remarkable come from back win and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in an incredible game.  Cries of ‘Yorkshire,Yorkshire’ rang around the rink and was a hard one to take for the home side, after they had dominated play for two periods.

Manchester player coach Omar Pacha was left seething with the referee after the game for awarding the goal, in what seemed a debatable goal against the home side and picked up an abuse of official call at the end to complete a miserable ending for Omar Pacha, as he continued to vent his anger and displeasure to the man wearing the orange armbands.

Storm will look to regroup and look for revenge tomorrow night (Saturday) as they travel over to the Sheffield Arena in the return fixture. 

ICE HOCKEY: Scarsella & Kalemba Star in ‘Stormy’ game

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MANCHESTER STORM  5  –  1   FIFE FLYERS 

Manchester Storm got a very much needed Christmas present from the Hockey gods as they picked up a hard earned 5-1 win over the Fife Flyers in a controversial game at the Altrincham Ice rink on Sunday night.  

The Storm who have found victories hard to come by this season in their first year in the Elite League, saw them getting off to a fantastic start in front of a big crowd in Altrincham. Vinny Scarsella netted the opener at 1:27 gone in the game after Matt Sisca’s shot was partly stopped by Fife netminder David Brown and the American forward was on hand to poke the puck home and give the home side a lead.

Fife came right back the Storm and put Zane Kalemba under a lot of pressure, but the netminder was on good form to stop the Scottish side from replying so soon. Both teams refused to give their opponents an advantage in the game and both gave as good as the other dished out.  Matt Sisca picked up a tripping call and saw a brilliant penalty kill by the Storm to successfully kill the penalty off.

However during the man down it saw Zane Kalemba making a stunning point blank save off a Flyers man to see the Storm keeping their lead and shutting the down on the Fife side.  With Manchester struggling to build upon their one goal lead, it did seem inevitable that the Flyers would come back after all the pressure they putting on the hosts and it was no surprise when Danny Stewart fired a beauty over Kalemba’s shoulder for a 1-1 game at 10:03.

With Fife doing almost all the attacking in the period and then getting on level terms, it then saw Manchester retaking the lead 94 seconds later with arguably the goal of the game from Scarsella. It saw the forward battling to keep the puck and then fired at the smallest gap to the left of Brown and somehow the puck found it’s way into the back of the net to restore the lead for Storm and lead 2-1.

Then came the flashpoint in the game at 14:27, as play was whistled down by the match referee Tom Pering and it then saw Devin Didiomete barging into Danny Stewart as they had been chirping at each other all game.

What followed then saw the Storm man pinning Stewart to the boards and using his stick before gloves came off and both men wrestled each other to the floor, with the Manchester throwing a couple while down on the ice. While they were trying to be separated, it saw a huge scrum in the corner with the rest of the players and no one wanting to any more than just handbags.

With the players in the box it looked to be calming down, after some sorting out with the penalties it saw Devin Didiomete ejected from the game and with the Manchester man walking back to the locker room unaided, the forward walked behind the penalty box and continued his verbal jousting with Danny Stewart in the Fife box and saw the Flyers man punch the back of the penalty box in the direction of the Storm man and saw Didiomete attempt to climb into the visitors penalty box to get to Stewart and saw both swinging punches and missing.

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Devin Didiomete(Black shirt) and Danny Stewart continue their dispute (pic via: Fife Today)

Eventually the Manchester man was grabbed and led away to the locker room and saw his actions looking likely to bring a big ban to the Canadian. After that incident it saw both teams getting back to playing hockey and saw David Brown making a nice glove save off Scarsella to stop him from completing a hat trick. Down at the other end it saw Zane Kalemba making a couple of good stops himself and the Fife players must have been wondering how on earth they were behind after the first period.

Storm started to edge the play in their favour in the second period and saw them producing a terrific defensive display against a side that has caused them problems in previous encounters this year. Fife carried on their efforts and it saw the Kalemba reluctant to give up any more goals in the game as he made some important stops. Matt Delahey then bumped into the Manchester goalie and saw both sides coming together with the netminder slightly milking it a bit more than it was in truth.

With the period being an enjoyable one with both teams finishing checks and not giving an inch to their opponent, it made for a good game between two Gardiner Conference rivals.  Paul Phillips then extended the lead for the hosts as he started a move in his own zone and finished it off at 15:46 with Matt Sisca and then Vinny Scarsella playing it back to Phillips, after the defenceman had skated through the Flyers back pairing and slid it past Brown in the visitors net for 3-1 score.

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Storm celebrate their 5th goal

 

There was still more action to come in the second period, after Philippe Paquet cross checked Patrik Valcak hard into the boards and with the Flyers man trying to draw the Storm man into a penalty as well, it saw both dropping their gloves and Valcak taking just one punch to put the Fife man down before quickly getting back up again.  Both players were joined by their respective team mates in the penalty boxes with Mike Folkes for Manchester and Justin Fox for the away side.

In the third, it saw the visitors trying to put pressure on their hosts and the next goal would be key. Manchester though defended brilliantly throughout and on many occasions in the game went into scramble mode to keep the loose puck out of the Storm goal and thwart their opposition from getting any decent opportunities.

Kyle Haines then picked up a slashing call at 52:32 and that saw him leaving the box as quickly as he entered, after Patrik Valcak blasted one into the Flyers net on the powerplay for 4-1 lead at 52:39 and that all but put paid to the Flyers hopes of coming back.  With the game all but won now, It saw the Storm given one more powerplay in the game and with Vinny Scarsella battling for the puck he found Matt Sisca, who played a delightful pass out front to Latvian Ricards Birzinsh and he one timed it home for a 5-1 lead and send the big home crowd happy.