ICE HOCKEY: ‘Hot Hand Luke’ Treble Downs The Stars

Ice Hockey

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Manchester Storm    7   –   5  Dundee Stars 

Manchester Storm shook off their heartbreaking last minute loss in midweek to defeat their conference and play-off rivals the Dundee Stars at Altrincham Ice rink 7-5, thanks to a hat trick from Luke Salazar as his treble helped the Storm move into a play-off place after they leapfrogged the Coventry Blaze into 8th place thanks to their loss in Nottingham.

A crazy opening ten minutes of play brought five goals, four of which went the way of the Storm. Manchester made a great start to the game with over two minutes gone, when captain Matty Davies started the ball rolling for the Storm with the small forward tipping in a blast off Paul Swindlehurst to beat Trevor Koenig in the Dundee net for the 1 -0 lead. Matt Paton then made it two less than a minute later,with the American firing in at the near post to double their lead.

Dundee Stars forward Doug Clarkson then picked up a hooking call and that allowed the home side to capitalise on the man advantage they had thanks mainly to an incredible solo goal by Luke Salazar, in which the American stick-handled his way past the Static Stars defence to then slot home from close range for a 3-0 game and also registered the 100th goal of the campaign for Manchester Storm. This then led to the Stars coach Marc LeFebvre calling a time-out and having a few strong words with his side and those words were clearly still ringing in his players ears as they quickly pulled a goal back on the powerplay through Lou Dickenson, after Bobby Chaumont’s shot was blocked and had the puck falling perfectly between the skates of the Stars man to tap in at 7:54.

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Canadian forward Grant Toulmin then restored the three goal lead for the home side minutes later, after the Storm man battled with a Dundee man for the puck in the Stars zone and when Koenig came out to try and poke the puck away, he got caught in ‘no man’s land’and it allowed Toulmin to scooped it over Koenig for a 4-1 score. The Scottish side then tried to drag the home side into some rough stuff and looked like their tactics were starting to work, when Justin Faryna and Omar Pacha got into it a bit during the play and that led to Devin Didiomete getting involved as well and saw the Ontario- native being thrown out of the game for third man in.

Justin Gray then netted for the away side soon after, with some good play by Mikael Lidhammar who played a backhanded pass out to Gray to fire a rising shot in the Storm cage for 4-2. In the second frame it saw Luke Salazar scoring his second of the match, after the forward drove to the net and got a touch of luck too with the goalie failing to stop the run of the puck and had it sliding under him and it saw Salazar having the easiest of tasks of tapping home at 22:29.

Big Doug Clarkson then brought it back to a two goal game with over half the game gone, this despite Zane Kalemba feeling he had been impeded by a Dundee man falling into him in the lead up to the goal but Clarkson took full advantage to make it 5-3. The Stars then thought they had scored again, after Justin Faryna went hard on goal and saw the puck falling inches from the goal line, before both Faryna and Mike Folkes crashed into the net and taking it off it off the pegs. Storm just managed to clear the puck in the nick of time and despite the red light coming on it saw the Stars players celebrating and were left bemused when referee Steve Brown washed it out rightly for not crossing the line after a long discussion with the linesmen.

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Manchester then recovered from purple patch that Dundee outfit enjoyed amd saw Luke Salazar recording his first hat trick for the Storm, as he let loose a rocket of a shot that saw the puck somehow go through Koenig for 6-3 at 33:19. Curtis Leinweber then completed the scoring in the second period with the Dundee man skating into space on the powerplay and then rifled in a shot.

Both sides created chances in the third and even though the Dundee Stars pushed very hard for a goal to see them trying to make it one goal game, Storm’s defence held firm and stood up well to all attacks that the visitors carved out for themselves.  Dundee Coach Marc Lebrevre then rolled the diced with over two minutes left on the clock, as he pulled his netminder for the extra attacker and that then saw local lad Paul Swindlehurst firing the puck up ice and banking it in in off the goalpost to score his first goal for the club and seal the points for the Storm at 7-4.

However Dundee weren’t quite done yet in the game, as with 27 seconds remaining in the game it saw Justin Faryna lifting the puck over Zane Kalemba to see a two goal deficit once more and saw them having the last word in the game.

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ICE HOCKEY: Storm Enjoy Double Over Clan

Ice Hockey

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Manchester Storm    4    –   1    Braehead Clan

 

Manchester Storm kept their recent winning streak alive with another 4 point weekend with both wins coming home and away against the Title chasing Braehead Clan with a 4-1 win at home and then a 2-1 victory up in Glasgow.  Over the last couple of weeks the Storm have suddenly come into form down the stretch and strung a few big wins together to have this important run of Six wins on the bounce.

Saturday saw them opening the weekend double header up with the Clan and saw both sides having good chances early on. Manchester were the better side in the first period and was awarded a powerplay when a needless interference play by Ric Jackman saw the home side taking advantage from it, after some nice puck movement by the powerplay unit allowed Matt Sisca to fire in from the blue line and put the hosts 1-0 up.

New signing to the Storm in Derek Roehl saw him making his home debut for Manchester and shown he wasn’t afraid to put himself about a bit too on his first few shifts. Braehead struggled in the way of creating chances as the Storm suffocated the Clan’s attackers and shown that their defending has come on leaps and bounds in recent weeks.

Travis Fullerton in the Braehead goals was certainly the more busier of the two and was called upon to make some good stops and help keep his side in it, with the Storm looking good value for their lead. In the second stanza it saw Braehead coming out a lot more focused at the start and that would have pleased Clan coach Ryan Finnerty who saw his side getting into the game more and getting some decent chances their way.

However Manchester doubled their lead and came against the run of the play to be fair, with Luke Salazar being in the right place at the right time to tuck home a pass from Matt Sisca and put the hosts two up and had the Clan in a bit of bother.

Braehead continued to push for a goal and in fairness they dominated possession and just couldn’t find a way through the Storm back line, with the home side working hard for one another and always found a way to keep the puck out and keep it a two goal game. The travelling ‘Purple Army’ made their voices heard all game and tried their best to energise their team back into the game and the Clan will feel a few missed calls didn’t go their way, which on another day would have been called.

Brendan Brooks then spoke out of term for Referee Paul Staniforth liking and gave the Braehead man a ten minute misconduct penalty for abuse of official and saw the wheels coming off for the Glasgow based side from then on. Storm player coach Omar Pacha made it 3-0 when his wayward shot was then redirected in by a Clan defenders skate that left Fullerton helpless to do anything and that seemed to kill off the visitors hopes.

Braehead then thought they scored through a Tristan Harper effort, as the puck pinged off the far post and landed close to the line with Zane Kalemba leaning back to cover it up. After a discussion with the linesmen it was decided no goal and didn’t see too many arguments from the Clan skaters either. Braehead didn’t have too long though before they found the back of the net, as the following play saw Neil Trimm tipping in a low drive from Ric Jackman blast from the blue line at 55:00 to see the the visitors on the board and making it a 3-1 game.

Ryan Finnerty then pulled his netminder for the extra attacker and to try and push for another goal but instead it saw Storm sealing victory with Ricky Birzinsh sending the puck up ice and making it 4-1 at 57:01, to help the Manchester Storm keeping up their winning streak and take it 7 wins on the bounce. The Sunday night saw the two teams renewed acquaintances up at the Braehead Arena and saw the Manchester coming from behind to take a 2-1 victory thanks to former Clan player Derek Roehl scoring the winning goal.

ICE HOCKEY: Storm Boss Left Fuming In Heartbreaking Loss

Ice Hockey

 

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Manchester STORM    3  – 4   Sheffield Steelers 

Frustrating was the buzz word that came out of the Manchester Storm locker room on Wednesday night as they went down to a late strike that condemned the Storm to a 4-3 loss at the hands of the Sheffield Steelers. Manchester felt decisions late on in the game cost them a chance of victory and robbed them. This wasn’t the first time that Manchester Storm coach Omar Pacha felt his side had been hard done by on some questionable calls against Sheffield, as back on New Year’s Day late calls changed that game too.

Another big crowd saw this War of the Roses encounter taking place and had Paul Swindlehurst making his home league debut for the Storm as he completed a loan move from the Nottingham Panthers. To start with it saw the home start on the front foot and was hoping to keep their winning streak of late going, so at 3:43 Grant Toulmin opened the scoring after a pass from behind the net by Vinny Scarsella saw the tall Canadian putting the puck in past Marek Pinc for a 1-0 lead.  Manchester then ran into penalty trouble and saw the visitors enjoying a long spell on the powerplay that saw the home side playing effectively 4-on-5 for nearly 8 solid minutes. It was almost inevitable that they would concede sometime and despite defending as well as they did it saw Sheffield levelling the game up through Jeff Legue. 

Sheffield then took the lead themselves midway through the opening period, as Ben O’Connor sent a pass up ice to Fredrik Vestberg and the Swede saw him getting by Davey Phillips with ease and neatly netted for 2-1 score while being short handed. Manchester by this point had lost all their momentum during the long penalty kill and saw the Steelers moving on top in the game and just couldn’t find another goal. 

The game continued in a similar vein as we moved into the second period of play and with the visitors still knock on the door, it saw Storm struggling to create anything going forward with the Steelers defence doing a fantastic job of cutting them off. Former Peterborough Phantoms forward Luke Ferrara made it 3-1, as he skated unopposed after three Manchester players were dragged over by Vestberg and that allowed the British forward to have a walk in on goal and after his first attempt was stopped by Kalemba his second effort was put in. 

In the Third period it saw the Storm goalie taking a huge hit as both Mathieu Roy and Omar Pacha battled going to the front of the net and saw Kalemba taking the brunt of the oncoming players and needed a few minutes to gather himself.  Moments later it saw the home side scrambling to keep the puck out of their net as Sheffield just tried to force it home and saw some of the players home players taking big blows to keep them in the game. Manchester then launched a rally towards the middle of the period as firstly Matt Sisca made it a one goal game after Ricards Birzinsh shot wasn’t dealt with properly by Pinc in the Steelers goal and that saw Sisca first to it and fire it into the net at 48:17 and start the comeback.  

Altrincham was now rocking and the atmosphere was immense inside the rink. Sheffield who were in full control of the game, now had saw them starting to lose their grip on this game as Manchester had their tails up and were looking more dangerous than any time in the game now. Pressure from the hosts finally brought them a deserved goal with less than eight minutes play, when a Grant Toulmin shot was saved and saw the puck come to Scarsella who quickly played it to the far post for Sisca who had to catch the puck and drop it before slamming it into the back of the Steelers net for a 3-3 game and saw the roof nearly come off.

It seemed like ground hog day revisited this contest, as the game played on New Year’s Day saw almost exactly the same being played out here as the Storm that day threw it away when in complete control.  This was now looking like a reversal of that match as Sheffield had the game sewn up in truth, but Manchester battled back. Penalties then hurt Manchester badly and had Luke Salazar called for a holding penalty, when minutes prior to it saw a similar offence committed and more blatant by the visitors, but nothing was given. Omar Pacha then saw him given a holding call as well and that saw the Player-coach furious with the referee Paul Staniforth and saw him making some very questionable calls throughout the game on both sides, but it seemed to be decided on soft calls late on rather that the talent deciding it and spoilt a good contest.  

Sheffield were given a 5 on 3 powerplay and had the Steelers going back in front through Jeff Legue as the Canadian netted his second of the game and as shot went through traffic and had the puck squirming under the pads of the Storm netminder for 4-3 to the Yorkshire side at 18:47.  Manchester’s bench was none to happy with the officiating of Staniforth and saw a bottle come onto the ice and had Patrik Valcak thrown from the game for a misconduct and completed a miserable and frustrating ending to what was becoming an thrilling finale.

Conny Stromberg then picked up a even softer penalty for Sheffield with seconds remaining and saw the referee dish out another misconduct penalty after the Steelers man shouted towards the official and saw him losing control of the game.   

Storm will look to bounce back on Saturday, when they entertain the Dundee Stars at Altrincham in what is now a vital game for both sides as the race for Play-off places hots up, plus results could even see Manchester in a play-off spot come Saturday evening. 

Womens Football: City Women Claim Pre-season Win

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MANCHESTER CITY WOMEN        3   –   1     FC ROSENGARD 

Nick Cushing’s Manchester City Womens side claimed an impressive 3-1 victory over the Swedish League and Cup Champions in FC Rosengard on Sunday afternoon thanks to goals from England Internationals Izzy Christiansen, Toni Duggan and Steph Houghton in the match. 

City started the game with two of their new signings on view in the starting up, as Swedish International Kosovare Asllani and Scotland forward Jane Ross wore the Blue shirt for the first time.  It saw the game being a midfield battle at the start with no side fully taking the game by the scruff of the neck, though the Blues did enjoy the majority of possession in the game.

The opening chance of the contest fell the way of the home side as Kosovare Asllani saw her making her first impression on the game with a neat pull back for Lucy Bronze, as the England defender made a run into the area and just fired her shot wide of the near post to see the hosts coming more into the game.  

Moments later both of the new signings came close to scoring on their home debuts, as firstly Asllani made space in the Rosengard area before unleashing a shot that rattled the crossbar and then saw Jane Ross heading goal wards from the rebound and saw her effort cleared off the line by the defender. 

With the home side creating more chances in the contest it eventually brought the games opener, as a long ball by Lucy Bronze was chased down by Jill Scott and with the Rosengard defender heading only as far as Ross, it saw the Scottish forward running down the wing and putting in a nice ball to the back post for Izzy Christiansen to take a quick touch and finish to put her side 1-0 up with 22 minutes gone.

Rosengard seemed unable to find anyway through the City midfield and that allowed the hosts to carry on in search of a second and went close with a couple of chances coming their way, with Toni Duggan firing over and then Captain Steph Houghton going closer with a free kick that was easily dealt with by the goalkeeper.

City just couldn’t find this second goal that their play deserved and it almost saw them paying for it as in the dying embers of the first half, with Rosengard Captain Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir shot being tipped round the post by City keeper Karen Bardsley, who was merely a spectator for the first half. 

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Second half brought three substitutions from the home side as trialist Megan Campbell and Nikita Parris came on for Lucy Bronze and Kosovare Asllani, while goalkeeper Marie Hourihan replaced Karen Bardsley for the second 45 to see her making a home debut.  The changes worked instantly as Nikita Parris who made her loan deal permanent from Everton to City in the winter, saw her running at the visitors and playing a low cross into the area where Toni Duggan side-footed home for a 2-0 score and saw the Blues looking like they would cruise to victory. 

However that didn’t happen for the home side and on a rare attack from the away side it brought a goal to get give them hope at 2-1, after a cross into the area saw the ball going in off Steph Houghton as the ball clipped her thigh and watched it bounce into an open net for the Swedish champions.  

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As the game went on you always thought City had a few gears to up in should they need too, and so it was no surprise when they made it 3-1 as Steph Houghton scored in the right end this time round with a header at the back post from a Christiansen free kick to seal the win and get their pre-season up and under way. 

 

Ice Hockey: Sisca Treble Downs The Stars/ Goal Fest In Edinburgh

Ice Hockey

 

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MANCHESTER STORM    5   –  2    DUNDEE STARS 

 

Matt Sisca netted a brilliant hat-trick Saturday night with the Canadian forward finding the back of the net in each period to see the Manchester Storm keeping up their play-off push with a 5-2 win over the Dundee Stars and also recorded their biggest winning streak of the league so far with three wins on the bounce.

Manchester started the weekend games a man lighter, after the club last week made a change in personnel and released Matt Caria from their side to bring in former Fife Flyer and Braehead Clan man in Derek Roehl. Sadly for Roehl the paperwork wasn’t fully signed in time to make his debut and so watched his new team-mates from behind the bench and must have been impressed with what he saw. 

Over the past couple of weeks it has seen the Storm adopting fairly more defensive approach to their game and that has seen their attacking threat balanced out and produced some great results in the last couple of games from it. Dundee were looking to get some revenge on their opponents after the Storm beat the Scottish side up in their barn last Sunday night and saw the hosts having playing a lot of confidence after recent results and looked like a new side in the opening period.

Manchester broke the deadlock in the game after Paul Phillips made a little pass out to Vinny Scarsella and his vision spotted the movement of Matt Sisca, who then shown a clean pair of skates to the Stars defenceman and neatly deposited the puck into the back of the net past Trevor Koenig for 1-0 lead at 4:17. Storm were playing arguably their best hockey of the season and weren’t shying away from the rough either.

That was evident when Riley Wetmore gave Patrik Valcak a little dig after the whistle with both players skating pass the Stars goal and had the Storm man none too happy with it, before they decided to settle their differences and had the Manchester man getting the better of the disagreement, before it was broken up by the linesmen.

Sisca then took his goal tally to two for the game and also for the Storm as well, as at 24:42 Luke Salazar skated between two Dundee players and still had the mind to play a pass toward the face of goal and saw the forward nipping in ahead of Koenig to back hand the puck in for a 2-0 lead.

Dundee then quickly responded through Justin Faryna as the Dundee man was forced away from goal but he still managed to turn and shoot a low effort in for 2-1 at 25:07.  Towards the back end of the period GB International David Phillips made it 3-1 for the hosts after the defenceman made a little move that saw him fooling Faryna, before quickly releasing a shot by Koenig on the powerplay to see him restoring the two goal cushion again.

At the Start of the third period it saw things getting even better for the Storm after they went 4-1 up through Matt Sisca hat trick strike, as the hosts broke on a 2-on-0 and saw Sisca completing his treble with another nice finish at 41:02.  Brett Switzer then made it a two-goal game again at 52:07 as the Stars man fired in a pass from a Mikael Lidhammar through traffic, to see the Scottish side still not giving up yet in the game.

Dundee then had a decent spell around the Manchester nets and had the home side under the cosh for a bit, with some scrambling defence to keep the puck out of their goals. David Phillips put his body in the line of fire from a Kevin Hart blast quite literally, as he helped to save his team from shipping another goal.

An unlikely scorer then made sure of the points for Storm with less than three minutes to go in the game. After Dundee’s Craig Moore played a dangerous clearing pass across his own zone and saw Devin Didiomete intercepting the pass and making it a 5-2 score and see the Play-off push continuing for the Manchester side.

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Matt Sisca Celebrates his first of the game    Pic from: http://manchesterstorm.com/

 

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Sunday night witnessed a bizarre and historic game in the Elite League encounter between the Storm and the Edinburgh Capitals up at the Murrayfield Ice rink, as the two teams served up a 22-goal game.

The score doesn’t fully tell the full story of this game though, as Edinburgh’s goalie Carsen Chubak was forced to leave the game with a cut head at 4-1 down. Chubak took a puck to the mask from a Vinny Scarsella shot and ended up with the puck finding a way to get stuck in the grill of the netminders helmet and saw him needing treatment.

Kevin Forshall then entered the fray for the Capitals just short of midway through the game and saw the back up goalie conceding 8 goals and saw the rare site of every out-skater for Manchester collecting a point in the match. Vinny Scarsella collected a hat-trick in the game with braces going along to Devin Didiomete and David Phillips for Manchester and then David Beatson added to the Edinburgh side woes as he received a game misconduct for a boarding call early on in the second period.

Steve Wilcox then got given some ice time for the Storm, but with both sides playing an Offensively minded game, it saw him hung out to dry and conceded 5 goals in his mini spell between the pipes as the Storm went from 11-4 up to 11-9.  Two quick goals by Grant Toulmin and then an empty netter by Patrik Valcak saw this crazy game ending 13-9 in favour of the visitors and had all that witnessed it getting their monies worth for sure. 

Manchester Player-Coach Omar Pacha was quote on the teams website as saying “It was one of the weirdest games of hockey I have ever been a part of in my professional career.”

ICE HOCKEY: STORM-ing Four Point Weekend for Manchester

Ice Hockey

 

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MANCHESTER STORM   8  – 5  EDINBURGH CAPITALS 

 

This past week saw the Manchester Storm registering a rare four point weekend for themselves with two come from behind victories against two Scottish and Gardiner opponents in the Edinburgh Capitals and the Dundee Stars.  An incredible 13-goal thriller at Altrincham saw Manchester on the right end of a victory and then followed it up with a brilliant road win up in Scotland on the Sunday to keep up their hopes alive of a Play-off spot.  

Saturday saw another wild game against the Capitals, as there were goals galore for the fans in attendance.  Manchester came out of the traps flying and put the Scottish side under severe pressure from the off and saw them failing to converting on their chances that they were creating. Edinburgh’s defence stood firm for the time being and for the opening five minutes of the contest they were under the cosh a lot and you felt it was only a matter of time before the Storm would score.

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Things didn’t turn out that way though, as after a quick break up Ice by the Capitals it saw Trevor Gerling playing a pass across the slot for Ned Lukacevic and the Canadian forward smashed home the puck past the Manchester goalie for a lead very much against the run of play.  

 

Minutes later it was 2-0 for Edinburgh, with Gerling this time getting on the score sheet after the forward collected the puck at mid ice and skated freely into the Storm zone before firing by Zane Kalemba at 7:57.  Manchester then got given a powerplay opportunity after Brandon Thompson brought down a Storm man which led to the nets coming off in the process. With some good passing by the home side it led to a great chance from the makings of duo Vinny Scarsella and Matt Sisca, with the two setting up Grant Toulmin whose shot wasn’t the cleanest of finished but it was still enough to beat Carsen Chubak for 2-1.  

The second period saw six goals being netted and started after 36 seconds into the period, when a shot came in from the blue line and saw the puck become loose and that allowed a scramble at the front of the Storm net until Gerling pounced and lifted it high into the net for 3-1.  Five minutes later and Ned Lukacevic blasted home his second of the game to make it 4-1 and leave the home side in deep trouble and saw the Capitals looking like they were walking away with the points.

Matt Sisca then started a recovery for the Storm at 26:02 as Paul Phillips shot was redirected in by Sisca to make it a 4-2 game with still a half and bit of the game to go. Things got a bit heated moments later when Matty Davies skated towards the front of the net and bumped the netminder in the process and led to the Capitals not happy with Davies and saw some pushing and shoving taking place.

Then came turning point in the game as Carsen Chubak was adjudged to have deliberately kicked the nets off and that handed Manchester a chance to come back again and that led to Chubak fuming and wanting to discuss things with the Referee.  From that powerplay it saw the puck being played towards to Luke Salazar near the side of the net and his low fizzing pass across the face of goal went in off the skate of the Edinburgh defenceman for a 4-3 score and saw Chubak once again trying to remonstrate towards referee Michael Hicks, with the Edinburgh goalie losing the plot and costing his team.

Goals then came like buses for the hosts with further goals by Defenseman Ricards Birzinsh tying the game and then Canadian forward Matt Caria made it 5-4 for the Storm which left the visitors ‘thunderstruck’ by the crazy ten minute spell.  

The third period saw the Capitals trying to force their way back in the contest after the home side was doing a good job in keeping them out.  With ten left to play in the period it saw Paul Zanette just about connecting on the puck to divert it down and in to see it ending up in the back of the net for a tied game at 52:26.

 Three minutes later and Matt Paton restored the lead for Storm at 55:44, thanks to a slight deflection off Latvian D man Ricards Birzinsh shot to see the home fans celebrating once more at 6-5.

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Capitals Ned Lukacevic was then guilty of losing concentration after he got the puck pinched off his stick by Matt Sisca in his own zone and after some nifty stick handling by the Manchester man, it saw Sisca flipping it up high into the roof of the net for a 7-5 score and that was game,set and match.  Vinny Scarsella then made sure of the win with an empty net goal 17 seconds from time, as the American forward battled along the boards to keep the puck moving and then shot it into the unguarded net for an 8-5 victory and put daylight between themselves and Edinburgh at the bottom of the standings.

 

Sunday then saw the Storm travelling up North to Dundee in search of a perfect weekend and yet again Manchester were forced to work hard for the victory after going two down against the Stars, with Riley Wetmore and Curtis Leinweber netting for the Scottish side.  However their resilience this weekend came to the fore, with Omar Pacha’s men netting three times in the second period thanks to strikes by Vinny Scarsella, Grant Toulmin and Matt Paton.

 

Manchester scored a fourth in the third period after Luke Salazar buried one past Trevor Koenig to see them finally secure a win against their bogey side in the league this year with a 4-2 and first four point weekend in 2016.