Speedway World Cup: Sweden & Poland head to Manchester for World Cup Glory

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This week sees the Annual Monster Energy Speedway World Cup taking place in Denmark, Sweden and finally in Great Britain, as it sees only winners advancing in the tournament and will see the new National Speedway Stadium in Manchester crowning the World Champions come Saturday night.  

With the hosts Great Britain getting a bye straight to the final on Saturday, it’s saw the rest of the Speedway Nations battling it out to take their place at weekend and hope to be the Country that lifts the Ove Fundin Trophy. Last Saturday saw Event One taking place in Vojens, Denmark and was a very close meeting with the pre-meeting talk all being about a likely shootout between the hosts Denmark and the bookies favourites in Poland and that proved to be a correct assessment.

Poland led the meeting from start to finish and had the Danes on their tails throughout the entire meeting and came within a whisker of pipping them late on, but the hosts were forced to settle for the lottery of the Race-off on Friday night in Manchester. Despite the attention being on the top two all evening and seeing Denmark edged out by Poland with Three points the difference, it should also be noted that the third placed side Russia could easily have come up along the rails and shocked their rivals, with the Russians finishing four points behind the Danes.

In fairness the result was never in doubt for the top Two finishers, as it was always going to be between the two traditional Speedway countries of Denmark and Poland, it was just a case of which way round they would finish. However when you analyse the meeting and see that former Coventry Bees rider Emil Sayfutdinov top scored with 18 and with Artem Laguta supporting him with 8 points as well, the duo helped their Country to their first ever Race-off meeting on Friday. It should also be pointed out that they were missing their other top rider in Grigory Laguta, as the Russian racer had suffered a hand injury prior to the meeting in Vojens and was a case of what might have been for the Russians if Laguta had lined up for them. Meanwhile another snippet of information that wasn’t picked up on was that Sayfutdinov had won as many races as entire Danish side, with the former Grand Prix rider claiming five race wins in the event.

 

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Maciej Janowski leads the way for Poland

 

For Poland they laid down a marker to their fellow World Cup rivals as the whole side put a in great team performance and made more impressive with the fact the that this Polish was a young crop of riders and can only get better. Former Coventry rider Piotr Pawlicki rode to a brilliant 12 points for the Poles and was followed by youngsters Patryk Dudek on 11 and Bartosz Zmarzlik on 9. Their captain was the oldest in the side at age 24 in Maciej Janowski, as the skipper managed to only score 7 points from his five rides and will be replaced in the World Cup Final on Saturday Evening by Krzysztof Kasprzak.  

Denmark had Michael Jepsen Jensen leading his Country with 12 points and was closely followed by Leon Madsen on 10 points, with Niels-Kristian Iversen on 8 and Kenneth Bjerre scoring 6 points in the Danish challenge to their opponents. Danish Team Boss the former Four-Times World Champion in Hans Nielsen, has already deciding not to bring in former World Champion in Nicki Pedersen back for the Race-Off on Friday, as the rider has been on holiday as the ‘Professor’ as he was commonly known in his racing days has seen him sticking with the same side at the National Speedway Stadium.

For the Czech Republic side, it was basically a case of them really just their making up the numbers in the meeting and saw only Vaclav Milik turning for his side, after he scored 12 of their 19 points in the meeting.

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Poland the Winners of Event One in Vojens

 

Russia = 32

1. Grigorij Laguta – (VK – 0, VK – 1, VK – 0, ES – 6^) = 0 (Withdrawn)
2. Emil Sayfutdinov – 3, 0, 3, 3, 6^, 3 = 18
3. Andrei Kudriashov – 1, 3, 0, 0, 1, 0 = 5
4. Artem Laguta – 0, 2, 2, 2, 2 = 8
5. Viktor Kulakov – 0, 1, 0, (AK – 1) = 1

Poland = 39

1. Maciej Janowski – 2, 1, 2, F/X, 2 = 7
2. Patryk Dudek – 3, 3, 1, 2, 2 = 11
3. Piotr Pawlicki – 3, 1, 2, 3, 3 = 12
4. Bartosz Zmarzlik – 1, 2, 3, 3, X = 9
5. Krystian Pieszczek – DNR

Czech Republic = 19

1. Josef Franc – 0, 0, (VM – 2^), 1, 1 = 2
2. Matej Kus – 1, 0, 1, 1, 0 = 3
3. Eduard Krcmar – 0, 0, 1, 1, 0 = 2
4. Vaclav Milik – 3, 3, 2^, 2, 1, 1 = 12
5. Zdenek Holub – DNR

Denmark = 36

1. Kenneth Bjerre – 2, 2, R, (MJJ – 4^), 2 = 6
2. Leon Madsen – 1, 3, 3, EF, 3 = 10
3. Michael Jepsen Jensen – 2, 2, 3, F/X, 4^, 1 = 12
4. Niels-Kristian Iversen – 2, 1, F/X, 2, 3 = 8
5. Fredrik Jakobsen – DNR

 


On Tuesday Evening it saw Vastervik in Sweden hosting Event Two and was pretty much a two horse race right the way through, with the Swedes and the Australians battling it out as winners of the meeting. Things were made interesting two hours prior to the meeting starting, when a massive storm hit the area and saw the track different made it an even contest for all. Sweden failed score in Heat 1 after Freddie Lindgren had touched the tapes and handed a early boost to their counterparts in the race. Australia led the meeting up until Heat 8, when the Swedes then levelled things up and saw a real battle for third proving interesting too as Germany and America went back and forth the entire night, with all teams having their own respective match-ups.  

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Greg Hancock (blue) leads the pack as he picks up a race win for USA

The wide straights made for some thrilling racing and saw some heartstopping moments, especially in Heat 12 you could have thrown the proverbial blanket over the entire group of riders as they all entered the 3rd bend on the opening lap. We also had a bit of controversy thrown in to boot in at Heat 14, when Jason Doyle was leading Sweden’s Andreas Jonsson for the whole race and then had the Aussie purposely slowly down to allow Jonsson to pass him so the Aussies could play a joker. Jonsson was far too experienced to be duped like that and saw him going equally as slowly as Doyle was going and saw the slowest ending to a race you will likely see. The result saw Doyle winning and having Australia unable to play a joker in the meeting and that effectively helped the Swedes move on to try and defend their crown on Saturday.

Sweden went into the meeting as defending champions and based on this display you wouldn’t put it past the 10-times World Champions to equal Poland as the most successful Speedway nation. Every rider got into double digits, with  ‘A.J’ Andreas Jonsson and the winner of the British Grand Prix in Cardiff a couple of weeks ago in Antonio Lindback both scoring 13 points, with Lindback have the race of the night against Greg Hancock with passing a plenty and best Heat of the World Cup so far.Freddie Lindgren and Peter Ljung both collected 11 points in Sweden’s victory on home shale.

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Hancock and Lindback share their views after a Stunning race 

Australia had Jason Doyle top scoring for them with 12 points, while former World Champion Chris Holder claimed 11 with Belle Vue’s Max Fricke scoring 9 and Wolves Sam Masters registering 5 points for the Aussies. For the Stars and Stripes of America it saw Greg Hancock not surprisely finish top of the scoring charts in the meeting with 17 points, while his teammates failed to back him up with any support on what was a tough night all around the American pits. If you take into consideration that Billy Janniro flew in especially just to ride in the meeting and hadn’t done a top International meeting for 8-years, it was always going to be a tough ask.

Janniro and Ryan Fisher who were both part of the old Coventry Bees setup in the early 2000’s, saw both riders picking up 2 points each in the meeting and had Ricky Wells suffering a disappointing night for him personally as he scored a single point and will want to make amends at the Race-off.

Before the meeting no one really gave Germany any hopes of doing anything in the event and was just a case of them making the numbers up. However no one told the Germans this and fought nearly all meeting with the American side for third place on the night. For Tobias Kroner this was just a hobby for him racing in the World Cup event, as the German rider has since cut back on his Speedway duties and now works for a living instead of racing in the European leagues. Rider of the night was arguably Martin Smolinski, as the racer enjoyed a stunning night’s work and raced to a 12 point haul for his team, while Kroner made 4 and saw former Belle Vue and Edinburgh Monarchs man Kevin Wolbert scoring 2 points, with Kai Huckenbeck who raced earlier in the Elite League for the King’s Lynn Stars picking up just a single point.

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Swedish side victorious in Vastervik in Event 2

 

Australia = 37

1. Chris Holder – 3, 2, 1, 2^, 3 = 11
2. Sam Masters – 2, 1, 0, 0, 2 = 5
3. Max Fricke – 3, 2, 2, 0, 2 = 9
4. Jason Doyle – 2, 3, 3, 3, 1 = 12
5. Brady Kurtz – DNR

USA = 22

1. Greg Hancock – 3, 1, 3, 6^, 2, 2 = 17
2. Ryan Fisher – 1, 0, 0, 1, 0 = 2
3. Billy Janniro – 1, 0, 1, 0, 0 = 2
4. Ricky Wells – 0, 0, 1, 0 = 1
5. Luke Becker – DNR

Germany = 19

1. Kevin Wolbert – 1, 1, 0, 0, 0 = 2
2. Kai Huckenbeck – 0, 0, 0, 1 = 1
3. Tobias Kroner – 0, 1, 1, 1, 1 = 4
4. Martin Smolinski – 1, 2, 3, 1, 4^, 1 = 12
5. No Rider

Sweden = 48
1. Antonio Lindback – 2, 3, 2, 3, 3 = 13
2. Fredrik Lindgren – X, 3, 3, 3, 2 = 11
3. Andreas Jonsson – 3, 3, 2, 2, 3 = 13
4. Peter Ljung – 2, 2, 2, 2, 3 = 11
5. Joel Andersson – DNR


 

That means this Thursday will see a fiercely contested Race-Off at the National Speedway Stadium at Belle Vue on Friday, with Denmark against Australia, the United States and Russia. Advantage you would say is in the favour of the Australians, after all they have Mark Lemon who is the Team Manager of Belle Vue and also have Max Fricke who rides there week in, week out for his league side and also Sam Masters who has ridden the track with Wolverhampton only a couple of weeks ago. Those two riders are the only ones to have any experience of the Manchester circuit and that could prove to be decisive in the meeting. 

This new circuit in Manchester is based on Bydgoszcz in Poland but also has a couple of other elements from other tracks too, with Vojens being another track that they got ideas on especially with both venues suffering from the inclimate weather. Providing that weather remains good, it should hopefully play host to some amazing speedway over the 2 days in Gorton,Manchester and will showcase how good of a track and venue that the new stadium in the sport is too, but also prove to be a big draw for British Speedway too.

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Temporary Stand in place for World Cup in Manchester 

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Belle Vue’s National Speedway Stadium

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Ice Hockey: Rinks, Players and Czech's in Homecoming for Phoenix

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Fans pack the Mercure Hotel in Manchester 

 

This past Friday evening saw the Manchester Phoenix holding a ‘Homecoming Party’ for their fans at the Mercure Hotel in Manchester’s City Centre to give an update on the status of their new rink home to be based in the Eastlands part of the City, while also making two player announcements for the upcoming season for the Phoenix.

The evening started off with the Phoenix owner Neil Morris, firstly talking about one of the sides that have stuck with club through thick and thin and were praised for sticking to their guns and remaining part of the ‘Phoenix family’, with the Sledge side experiencing exactly the same problem as their bigger brothers this summer.

Problems have been ongoing for the Manchester side since the playoffs weekend of 2015, when a dispute had taken place between their previous tenants and Morris himself which led to a court case taking place. With all the legal battles going on, this has led to the club playing without a home of their own and having no home advantage as such, with games being played out of North Wales at the Deeside Ice Rink. Plans were announced a short time ago about having a new rink put in place for the start of the season and that it was close by to the Etihad Stadium and Sportscity area.

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Morris then updated the fans on the state of play regarding the new rink at Eastlands by saying, that the new rink is part of a partnership with Manchester City Council and that the rink is a 5-year temporary building and will play their hockey there while they sort the permanent building. The bad news that came out of the meeting was that the scheduling on the venue has hit a delay, something that is not foreign to the side over the years for different reasons. With them trying to get the building up and ready for the start of the season, it has now been officially delayed by 6-8 weeks as extensive work will be done to the new rink to make sure it is fully functional. Plans for their short-term future are being discussed with Widnes or Blackburn looking the likely front-runners.

Plans and visuals of the new rink were shown to those in attendance on a big screen and had Neil Morris adding, “that maybe leaving Altrincham was a gift”, only time will tell if that comment is true. Talk then moved onto the actual team building for the new season and saw Tony Hand MBE addressing the fans on just that and told the fans that it was a hard situation the club found themselves in looking for new players. Hand commented, “uncertainty around the rink has made recruiting guys very difficult. With a lot of reassurances needed for the players to sign.”

He then added “the last 2 or 3 weeks has been much easier now that more details around the rink have come through.” Hand also said that there was some good British talent coming through and mentioned Greg Pick as one of those young players coming through. The Phoenix player-coach made reference to Pick’s physical play and noted that, “he was keen to improve as a player as well, and would be an asset to the side.”


Meanwhile at the event, it saw Neil Morris and Tony Hand teasing fans with further additions to the team and said “We’re talking to some guys. Maybe someone who’s played for us before”.  The club then announced two new imports to ther side for next year, with both of them coming from the Czech Republic in the form of Roman Malinik and Jakub Langhammer, being revealed to the ‘Faithful’.

Malinik is a 26 year-old forward from Ostrava and Maliník_kapitán_Rebelusaw the early part of his career playing at HC Vitkovice, as he started out for their U18 and U20 sides between 2004 and 2007. The Czech then headed to Canada in 2007 and where upon saw him being drafted in the first round of the CHL Import draft. Malinik was drafted at number 24 by the Baie-Comeau Drakkar in the QMJHL. In 121 games for Baie-Comeau, it saw him registering 47 points as he scored 16 goals and 31 assists. 

He returned back to his native land for the 2004-05 season and saw him rejoining his former club in HC Vitkovice, before fluttering between the Czech 2nd and 3rd divisions respective, with HC Frydek-Mistek and HC Dukla Hvlava. After two seasons with HC Dukla Hvlava, he then moved to HC Havlickuv Brod for a couple of years as well and saw him last year playing for HC Havirov in the Czech 2nd division and will now don the Phoenix jersey for next year.


The second new signing for the Phoenix, comes in the shape of 31- year old Left Winger Jakub Langhammer, as he joins the Manchester club from German side Saale Bulls Halle in DEL2. Langhammer started his career in the Czech junior leagues with his hometown club HC Kladno, before being picked up by HC Slavia Praha and made their U18 and U20 sides early on in his career. The experienced Czech man World his first medal with the U18 Czech side, claiming a World Junior Bronze Medal back in 2001-02 with the National side and as gone on to add two Czech league titles to his honours list too.

The Kladno-born player then spent two 1913244-img-sport-hokej-extraliga-langhammer-hradec-kraloveseasons with the Spokane Chiefs in the Western Hockey League in North America, before coming back to the Czech Republic and spent it mainly between HC Slavia Praha to which he won two straight Czech Extraliga Championships between 2005 and 2007, and his other side was HC Ceske Budejovice. Since 2014 however, Langhammer has spent his hockey in the German leagues with Eispiraten Crimmitschau and Dresdner Eislowen of the DEL2 and beside his previous club the Saale Bulls Halle, he also iced for EV Regensburg in the Oberliga or the third tier of German hockey.  

 

Ice Hockey: New Storm signing is the 'BIZZ'

Manchester Storm announced another new player to their line up for the 2016/17 season, with the signature of 24-year old Left Winger Matt Bissonnette from Chamois de Chamonix Hockey club in France. The Beaconsfield, Quebec native joins the Storm after a career that has saw his career needing to be re-ignited after most of his career has be played out of one of the three major junior hockey leagues in Canada, in the QMJHL (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League).

The past two seasons have saw Bissonnette playing his hockey in France at Chamois de Chamonix in the French Ligue Magnus and is a team to who player-coach Omar Pacha knows well, after he spent a year there prior to coming to the UK a few seasons ago. In 76 games for Chamonix in both League and Cup, he posted 25 goals and 57 assists during his time there, and will no doubt want to improve with the help of a fellow Montreal native at the helm.

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His career though as mentioned previously, saw him starting off at the Moncton Wildcats and also saw him representing a Canada Quebec-U17 side at the World Hockey Championships in the 2008-09 season, where upon he collected a 2 goals and 1 assist in 5 games. The following season saw him starting off at Moncton before playing a single game for the Chicoutimi Sagueneens and then finally onto the the Lewiston MAINEiacs.

While at Lewiston, he recorded his best numbers at that point in time of his career, with 24 goals and 49 assists over 89 games for the MAINEiacs. He then moved to Acadie-Bathhurst Titan and saw his numbers really beginning to picking up, after registering 83 points in 65 regular season games for the Titan with 36 goals and 47 coming by way of assists. In the playoffs he netted 2 goals and 6 assists in 6 post-season games, but the following year saw him making only 52 appearances for the season and still managed to post 17 goals and 46 assists. Bissonnette then travelled to Europe in 2014/15 to play in France, and now sees his next chapter at the Storm Shelter in the Elite League with Manchester.

Speaking to Seth Bennett via Elite Media, he spoke about his joy of coming to Manchester saying, ” I was pretty excited to get a deal done this late in the summer, as looking for jobs is pretty tough and when you get a city like Manchester you can only think positive things and I’m pretty excited.”

Speaking about leaving Canada for Europe and  looking to ahead to the UK he said, “From there (QMJHL) I ended up moving to France, to where a friend was playing and he managed to get me onto that team. I built a pretty good relationship with the coach and the city, and ended up spending another year there last year. This year I’m jumping to Manchester, so it’s a different league, but you know what, I am just going with the flow and look forward to a new opportunity and challenge in England and pretty excited.”

With the Storm announcing the signing of his friend Mario Trabucco earlier in the week, he commented on finally being teammates with his friend and previous conversations between the two, “Yeah Super Mario! I’m pretty excited as the last 3 to 4 years we have been training partners in the summer and always joked about having the opportunity to play together, but just never happened. Then last week I found out that he had talked to Pasha (Omar Pacha) and so i called pretty quick and after I heard Mario had signed, it was a no-brainer for me to go there as well and play under the coach.”

Finally he mentioned that he was looking forward to coming to Manchester, after being briefed on the city by a Mancunian that he he knew while in France, “I’m super excited, actually I had a family over in Chamonix that I was close with and the dad was from Manchester. And he told me how nice the City was and how friendly the people were and that you’ll love it there.”

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Omar Pacha commented on the signing of his recruit saying, “Matt is someone who has been on my radar for a while now. He has size, great vision, and is renowned for his excellent passing ability. He is also close friends of recent Storm recruit, Mario Trabucco, and i know they are both delighted to be playing alongside each other this upcoming season. Mario spoke really highly of Matt, and from all the scouting reports i have done on him, I know we are getting a very talented hockey player & a highly committed individual who is still young & hungry to take his game to another level.”

Storm GM Neil Russell, spoke highly of Bissonnette himself adding, “Matt is someone i know Pach has been really keen to bring to the Storm ahead of this upcoming season. Numerous things stood out to us about him, from his junior career in Quebec, his progression into the pro ranks, his size, and the outstanding reports we received on his vision and passing ability. Matt is still young, has really good pedigree, so I am convinced if he comes in here with the work ethic & hunger to succeed that we know he possesses, he could use us to springboard his career into higher leagues in Europe potentially in the future.”

Ice Hockey: Mario Joins The Storm

 

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Mario Valery-Trabucco in the Colours of TPS TURKU  Pic taken from: GazzettaHockey.it

 

Manchester Storm announced their newest signing on Tuesday, with the signature of Canadian Right-Winger, Mario Valery-Trabucco to the club. The 29-year old forward put pen to paper on a deal to see him Icing for the Storm next season and has saw the Venzuelan-born Canadian competing in some of the top European leagues this side of the pond. 

After he played college hockey with the Union College in the NCAA, he then made 2 appearances for the Adirondack Phantoms as they were called in the (AHL) before he took his talents over to Europe. In his first full professional season, it saw him donning the Black & White shirt of Finnish Liiga Side TPS Turku and put up 16 goals and 2 assists for Turku in his 57 league appearances he made for the club.

From there he headed to Bavaria to play for the Augsburger Panther in the German DEL and saw him having a good opening season with the Panther side, netting 19 goals and getting 15 assists in his first year. The following year though, saw him playing only 35 games for the team and scoring 14 points in the regular season. The 2013-14 season saw him moving to Sweden and playing for Asploven HC, as the forward made 29 appearances and collected 10 points with 7 goals and 3 assists before moving off to Sodertalije SK late in the season and registering only 3 points.

A move back to Germany saw him starring at Starbulls Rosenheim in DEL 2, where it was his best season to date in his career with 53 points for Rosenheim, as 27 of them were goals and 26 assists. Last season saw him playing once more in the Swedish First Division for Kallinge/Ronneby IF, and saw him netting 10 goals and 13 assists in 24 games for the Scandinavian team before moving again to Northern Italy to play for Sportivi Ghiaccio Cortina (or Cortina for short) in the Italian Serie A. 

One weapon that Valery-Trabucco possesses in his arsenal, is a very accurate wrist shot that has been spoken about when his name comes up in conversation and will hope to beat many of the netminders with it next season in the Elite League. As well as having a quick shot, he is also said to be an intelligent passer of the puck and also having a keen eye for a good play and that was evident in his time at Augsburger and especially at Rosenheim.

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Pic taken from: Corrierealpi.gelocal.it

Speaking in a interview with Seth Bennett on the Storm websitehe explained how long it took him to decide on his future for next season, ” That it happened within 2 to 3 days max, from the time i got the call and i agreed and sealed and delivered it. So it was a no-brainer really. “It’s a growing organisation and got a guy from Montreal who’s coaching as well, and all the little piece were aligned correctly for that hockey side, then obviously adding the MBA in there, made it pretty much a no brainer to go and complete that”.

 

On the signing the Manchester Head Coach Omar Pacha spoke to the Club website of his excitement with his latest recruit saying “I’m thrilled to have Mario with the Storm this season, he is a top end player who will be relied on for production throughout the year. He is a shooter, and we’ve been looking for that type of player, especially in our rink where things happen very quickly. All my references on Mario were extremely positive, he is working out hard and on the ice daily in the lead up to this season, so I am very confident that we are getting a highly motivated Mario Trabucco that’s coming into our club. Overall, I am simply delighted we have managed to secure a player of Mario’s calibre to come to the Storm for the season ahead.

Neil Russell, the Storm’s General Manager commented on the signing “This is a great pick up for us. Mario has been on our radar for well over a month now. He comes into the Storm with great pedigree, and i know from the references that Pach has received back from countless people that we haven’t just landed a top player, but also a really good person. Mario fills our third and final MBA position with Salford Uni for this upcoming season, which again goes to show how important that deal is for us as an Organisation.

Russell also added, “I know Mario has attracted a lot of interest from other EIHL clubs, so for us to land him is super exciting. I am sure the fans are going to love seeing Mario in action, it’s going to be one hell of a season”.

 

 

Sledge Hockey: Phoenix Sign Off With Big Win

 

roundal_sledgehockey-220x311  Manchester Phoenix   10  –   1   Sheffield Steelkings  SheffieldSteelKings

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 Phoenix side celebrate their 10-1 victory at Fylde 

 

This past Sunday afternoon saw the curtain come down on the regular season for the Manchester Phoenix Sledge Hockey team, as they faced off against the Sheffield Steelkings at the Fylde Coast Ice Arena and rounded off their league campaign with a comfortable 10-1 win over their friends from over the Pennines.

 Phoenix were still missing their star netminder in Steve Midghall in their lineup, after the netminder suffered a recurrence of his shoulder injury. There was some good for the home side in the injury front, as they were  boosted by the returning Pat Bailey to the lineup as the forward had been out through injury and was making his first Sledge game of the season. For the visitors they were missing Barry Grayson and David Hall, with the latter sidelined after an injury he sustained in a match against Kingston earlier in the season.

 The game wasn’t even 90 seconds old when Karl Nicholson fired the Phoenix ahead with a shot from the point that found its way in at 1:24 gone in the game, with Rob Allen credited with an assist. Sheffield were under the cosh from the off and pretty much were in the whole game in truth, as Manchester pinned their opponents in their own zone and saw GB netminder Bryan Hackworth having to make a good save from Rob Allen to deny him getting on the board with a low glove save.

 Some more good play by the home side and especially their passing, saw the Phoenix getting behind the Steelkings defences and were only thwarted by Bryan Hackworth. Karl Nicholson then doubled the lead for Manchester as well as taking his goal tally, with a goal after a scramble infront of the Sheffield zone saw the goalie trying to get the puck covered up, but Nicholson was on hand to put home into an empty net at 5:28 and had Allen grabbing his second assist in the game.

 2-0 then quickly became 3-0 soon after for the hosts, when Nicholson played a backhanded pass across the face of goal for Pat Bailey, but his shot was blocked and Rob Allen was alert enough to put in the net for his first of the game and saw the home side firmly in control. Sheffield seemed unable to even get out of their zone and that was hurting them a lot in the opening period. Hackworth again was called upon by his side to shut the door on their opponents, as wave after wave of Manchester attacks came at them and saw Anthony Booth shooting from a tight angle that was spilled by the goalie but was able to cover up.

 Sheffield then got awarded a power play opportunity, when Graham Wilson was called for T-Boning in the corner after a crunching hit from the defenseman saw the Steelkings having the man advantage. The visitors struggled to create anything in the way of chances in their powerplay, but it did see the Phoenix netting a short-handed effort through Pat Bailey, after Karl Nicholson had dashed up ice and saw a neat lay off for his team mate Bailey who joined in the play late to push it home for 4-0 at 10.07.

 A couple of big hits coming in from both sets of players saw the puck becoming free near the Sheffield goals and Nicholson tried to lift it over Hackworth, but the goalie was far too clever for the forward and knew exactly what he was trying to do and saw him collecting the puck in the goalies mitt with a great save. Manchester then had a goal washed out before the break at 14:40, when the referee signalled no-goal after bodies were strewn across the goal crease and the puck had gone in, but there wasn’t too many complaints coming from the home side on it being chalked off.

 Play started off in the second period pretty scrappy, with Sheffield trying to upset the rhythm of the Phoenix players and saw them cutting out some passes by the hosts. Graham Wilson then swapped defense to attack, as he almost saw scored on a break after he receiving a great pass from his own zone and saw the defenseman 1 on 1 with the goalie, but Hackworth came out on top. Bryan was then forced into a stunning save from the resulting play, after a shot was deflected up in the air and heading on goal but the Steelkings goalie had to reach back to claim it and stop a freak goal from going in.

 A brilliant team move brought about the 5th goal for the Phoenix, as some tic-tac-toe play saw Manchester carving Sheffield wide open after they had committed too many players up ice and that allowed Nicholson to make a pass to the back post for Pat Bailey and he put home at 22:08. Phoenix head coach Pete Hagan then made a goalie change with Darren Pomfrett replacing Dougy Hankinson in between the pipes and had Pomfrett not afraid to express his feelings to his teammates down at the far end. Graham Wilson had another chance go begging for him at the front of the net, this time after Dominic Cosgrove had played a nice back door pass out for him and Hackworth once again made a point blank save to deny him.

 Sheffield then suffered a poor call from the match official with just over 5 minutes left to play in the second, after Jake Oakley had outpaced Dominic Cosgrove at center ice and had only Karl Nicholson to beat and was turning him inside out and out, before the referee blew play dead to bring attention to the net in which his opinion was off. What made it worse was play had continued on for at least another 10-15 seconds before he decided to blow up and had the visiting side highly unimpressed with the decision.

Nicholson was architect for the sixth goal for the home team, after the GB man skated through the Sheffield defence with ease and played an inch perfect pass for Anthony Booth to get onto and give the Phoenix goal difference a boost. A further strike before the end of the period by Pat Bailey made it 7-0 and it looked to be a case of whether they would hit double figures or not.

 Manchester were the only side in the game to be fair, but Sheffield didn’t want to hit for double figures again in the league this season and even slowly began to step it up a bit more and began to cause a couple of problems. Hackworth once more was in the thick of the action, after he made a stop on Rob Allen after a great pass by Graham Wilson saw the rebound falling to Karl Nicholson, but the Manchester man stopped.

As mentioned previously, Sheffield gave it a good go in third as saw having nothing to lose but pride, but a pass up Ice by Rachel Paget saw Jake Oakley taking the puck with him up Ice and into the Phoenix zone, before he played a little pass towards David Scvill and his shot managed to find it’s way under the glove of Pomfrett and into the back of the net as the visitors got on the scoreboard at 36:51.

 With time ticking down on the game, it saw Booth making it 8-1 for Phoenix with a tight angled shot at 39:43 and then with less than two minutes to play the third, it saw Nicholson taking the brunt of a heavy collision from Rachel Paget by the boards and saw him sitting out the rest of the game. Sheffield went close again to a goal, but the puck was cleared as far as Pat Bailey who went coast to coast with his effort and that saw him firing high over the shoulder of Bryan Hackworth and making it 9-1 at 44:05.

 From the restart it saw Anthony Booth breaking into the Steelkings zone and firing his shot passed the goalie for Phoenix’s 10th goal of the game at 44:31, and saw the game mercifully for Sheffield finish. You can never question the effort of the Steelkings and after their goal you could see it did energise them for a small period of time.

 

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MVP: Rachel Paget

 

 

 

 

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 MVP: Rob Allen 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Match awards for player for the game went to the Number 16’s on both sides, as Rachel Paget of Sheffield and Manchester’s Rob Allen both took the glass paperweights and beers. The win will be boost to the Phoenix who will meet the Kingston Kestrels in the playoffs and hold an unbeaten record against them so far this season, with a 2-2 draw and a 4-0 win both at the Hull Ice Arena


       
 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Speedway: Belle Vue took to the wire against brave Lions side

 

officialMerchBadge Belle Vue Aces  48      –    42   Leicester Lions    wp3a2902e1_06

Belle Vue moved back into second position in the Elite League table on Friday evening, after grinding out a tough 48-42 victory against a stubborn Leicester Lions side that was missing third of their main riders for the meeting and still pushed the Aces all the way to a last heat decider in tricky conditions. Both teams had a respective rider scoring 13+1 as the visitors had former Belle Vue man Michael Palm Toft collecting three race wins on his way to his score, meanwhile the Aces had Slovenian Grand Prix rider Matej Zagar on form too, as he helped his side overcome the Lions in the last heat of the night.

With inclement weather in the North West of England hitting the area in the past 24 hours, it saw the track needing to worked on and saw it being ‘bladed’ which saw a delay of 45 minutes to the start of the meeting. It saw the track staff working hard on the circuit to get it in any type of racing shape for the match, but credit to them for getting the track into a raceable shape as the match was in the balance at one point.   

The opening race saw the hosts getting off to a great start thanks to Steve Worrall and Matej Zagar, with the Aces number one rounding the Lions pair to join Worrall for a 5-1 heat advantage. In the reserves race it saw a former Belle Vue man haunting his old side as Danish rider Michael Palm Toft picked up the race win, as he firstly got round Joe Jacobs then hunted down Richie Worrall till he made his move on the final bend of the race. 

Craig Cook and Scott Nicholls then helped the home side open up a six point lead after three gone, then the Lions launched a comeback at the Aces with Palm Toft and Josh Auty recording a shock 5-1 scoreline for the visitors with Max Fricke trying to chase hard, but a bike problem put paid to his efforts and that allowed Auty through into second and put Leicester two points behind. 

Heat Five saw the Worrall brothers getting out in front of their opponents, only for guests Hugh Skidmore and that man again Michael Palm Toft to pass Richie Worrall and see a share of the points. Another ex-Ace in Patrick Hougaard saw the Dane making a perfect gate in the following race, as Hougaard dealt with both Nicholls and Fricke moving them out wide and that then let his team mate Szymon Wozinak coming through into second place and gave the Lions another 5-1 and put them 19-17 infront. 

Belle Vue Rentruck' Aces v Leicester 'Paul Chapman & Sons' Lions, Elite League  15 July 2016
Taken from Belle Vue Speedway website/ Photo by Ian Charles: Matej Zagar (Red) leads team mate Steve Worrall (Blue) with Nicolai Klindt (White) and Szymon Wozniak (Yellow/Black) behind

Zagar and Cook then struck right back for the Manchester club in the next race, with the duo completing a 5-1 of their own and not only put the Aces back in front at 22-20, but saw the Slovenian equalling the track record with a time of 59.8. The Teams then traded 4-2 heat advantages in the next couple of races the meeting as the match was getting to the business end. Palm Toft who had had scored 1o points from his opening four rides in the meeting, then saw him making a mistake and penalised himself with a slight movement at the tapes in heat 11, and that error gave Zagar extra room with a good run to the first bend

With Zagar miles ahead of the rest of the field, it saw a 3-way battle with Steve Worrall and the two Leicester riders for second. Worrall and Wozinak both rode side by side for the opening two laps as Michael Palm Toft was waiting the wings for a gap to appear, as he was on their co-tails for the entire race and you could have thrown the proverbial blanket over the three riders for the whole race, as Wozniak edge Worrall out and saw them shaking hands after a cracking race.

As Heat 12 came around, it looked odds on that the Lions were favourites in the second reserves race, as the Leicester riders had outscored their opposite numbers 15-5, with Palm Toft scoring the bulk of the points for the away side. However it saw both the Aces riders making the gate and had Richie Worrall speeding off with Joe Jacobs doing his level best to keep the Lions riders behind him for as long as he could, with the Ipswich native’s bikes down on power on the night. Eventually both riders got by Jacobs on separate laps, as they both went into the dirt and powered around him for a shared race and see the Aces still having their 4 point cushion with three races to go.

Hougaard who came last in his opening ride was more than making up for lost time the meeting, after he won his third race in a row with a rocket of a start that could see neither Cook or Zagar able to touch him in the big hitters race of Heat 13. In the penultimate race of the night, it saw the Lions picking up a 4-2 advantage as Nicolai Klindt who had suffered a poor night with no points in his only two rides, then saw the him popping out with a brave move to pass Nicholls and Fricke around the boards and see the Danish taking the win. Meanwhile his fellow countryman in Michael Palm Toft, saw him rounded off his successful evening with a third placed finish as he passed the Aces captain for third. 

Heading into the final heat, it saw the scores 43-41 in favour of Belle Vue and saw Matej Zagar and Craig Cook both bringing home the points for the home side with a stunning 5-1 after Zagar made an equally brave move like Klindt had done in the previous race, as he went close to the fence and was followed by team mate Craig Cook coming under Hougaard entering the first bend on lap 2 to see them both giving their side the match win.

Belle Vue team manager Mark Lemon spoke on his sides win to the club’s website saying: “As I’ve said before, you must expect the unexpected in the Elite League and Leicester turned up tonight with the unexpected in tow. They threw everything at us, even the kitchen sink!

 “But it was our gritty determination that brought us across the line in the end. Obviously track conditions played their part in proceedings following those spells of late afternoon rain we had.

“We have to give full credit to the track staff for getting the meeting on and producing a very good race track that the boys could not only knuckle down with but also race on without holding back.

“I’ll admit I thought things were looking doubtful at 7:30pm but again the design of the track is what helped save our meeting, and we can now be quite confident when faced with inclement weather.”

The Aces boss was left puzzled by the bike gremlins that seemed to hit Nicholls and Fricke in the match, as the Australian explained:  “A couple of the boys had mechanical dramas which was frustrating but as a unit we pulled together and maintained a solid performance which in the end got us the three points.”

“Both Max and Scott changed bikes during the course of the meeting. We’re not quite sure what happened to Max to be honest, whether it was an ignition or a carburettor problem. We don’t know.

“His bike has been quite literally in pieces in his pit bay but that happens sometimes. What I was most impressed with was how everybody responded to help fill the gaps where we were struggling.

“Meetings like this are proof of how demanding this track is not only on the equipment but also on the rider. That in turn demands all of the boys to step up their efforts in order to secure the win.

“It’s going to be a while now before we are racing back at home as a team, obviously with the World Cup break, but we’ve still got Swindon and Coventry away next week to contend with.

“I wouldn’t say they were meetings we must win but we do need to ensure we continue to pick up those vital points on the road to cement our intentions and further emphasise our push for the top.”

Belle Vue = 48

1. Matej Zagar 2′, 3, 3, 2, 3 = 13+1
2. Steve Worrall 3, 3, 3, 1 = 10
3. Scott Nicholls 1, 1, 1′, 0 = 3+1
4. Max Fricke R, 0, 2, 2 = 4
5. Craig Cook 3, 2′, 2, 1′, 2′ = 10+3
6. Richie Worrall 2, 0, 1, 3 = 6
7. Joe Jacobs 1′, 1, 0, 0 = 2+1

Leicester = 42

1. Patrick Hougaard 0, 3, 3, 3, 1 = 10
2. Hugh Skidmore (G) 1, 2, 1, 0 = 4
3. Nicolai Klindt 0, 0, 3 = 3
4. Paul Starke R/R (MPT 3, JA 1, SW R, MPT 1 = 5)
5. Szymon Wozinak 2, 2′, R, 2, 0, 0 = 6+1
6. Michael Palm Toft (G) 3, 3, 1′, 3, 0, 2, 1 = 13+1
7. Josh Auty R, 2′, 1, 2, 1′ = 6+2

 

Sledge Hockey: Phoenix Lose Out To Huskies

roundal_sledgehockey-220x311    Manchester Phoenix  2 – 4  Cardiff Huskies  huskieslogo

 

The Manchester Phoenix home roadshow season took them to the confines of the Fylde Coast Ice Arena just outside of Blackpool for their penultimate game of the season, as they took to the Third ‘home’ Ice of the season. Their opponents were the Cardiff Huskies and a team having a good season by all accounts and chasing the league title still, as they still stand a chance of denying Peterborough a fourth successive championship victory.The Huskies were bolstered by a couple of Great British Internationals that had made the move from Peterborough last season in Tyler Christopher and Jon Le Gallodec, as they swapped East Anglia to Welsh Valleys.

Both teams started brightly in the match and saw some physical play too boot, as the opening minutes were quick paced. Cardiff’s Ty Christopher saw him testing the debutant between the pipes for the Phoenix in Darren Pomfrett, as the Manchester goalie made a big glove save to stop the visitors from taking an early lead in the contest.Pomfrett was then called upon once again for the home side, after a deflected shot came back off defenceman Graham Wilson and saw the netminder making a quick reaction save to keep it scoreless still.

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Cardiff were the aggressors early on in the game and saw Christopher having another chance, when the forward was first to a loose puck with Wilson and went on 1on1 with Pomfrett but it was the goalie with an important low glove save to deny the GB man.  Manchester who were playing brilliantly defensively, then saw them taking a lead very much against the run of play as Karl Nicholson chased down a loose puck in his own zone and saw the Phoenix captain fending off two Huskies players before roofing the puck high passed Alex Weaver at 11:10. Anthony Booth then doubled the lead at 14:40 for the home side, when Rob Allen’s long clearing pass along the boards was collected by Booth and his effort was partly dealt with by the Cardiff goalie, but the shot just had enough pace on it to see the puck going in to see the Phoenix 2 up at the break. 

A slight wardrobe malfunction of sorts before the second period saw Phoenix goalie Darren Pomfrett having an issue with his pads and was replaced by Doug Hankinson until he got sorted.  Cardiff came out strong at the start of the second period and brought an early save out of Hankinson as the visitors were dominating play early on. Manchester then wasted a great opportunity to make it 3-0 when Nicholson skated into the Huskies zone and found Booth, but the forward mis-hit his shot but manage to regather it back and have his second effort saved fantastically by Alex Weaver from point blank range.

It seemed just a matter of time before the Welsh side would eventually net after all their pressure on the hosts, so when Ty Christopher gained the zone and skated behind the Manchester net, he spotted the movement of Lloyd Woodyatt and played a quick pass for him to tap in for 2-1 at 22:15. Goals for Cardiff were much like buses, as when one turned up a second one came right after. It saw a breakout pass evading most of the Phoenix players and that helped set up a 2 on 1 for the visitors as Woodyatt and Christopher once again linked up and saw the latter scoring for Cardiff, with Hankinson left hung out to dry by his side at 22:50. 

With the Manchester coach Pete Hagan clearly not impressed with his defence for their second goal they conceded, it saw him sending Pomfrett back out in the game after his pads issue had been sorted. The change saw their fortunes turning a bit with Rob Allen stopping a clearance from leaving the Cardiff zone, and then fired a shot on goal but was comfortable taken by the goalies glove. Nicholson went desperately close for the hosts with a long range effort, as he then tried to score from the rebound and was blocked by Tyler Christopher as play quickly went down the other end and saw a point blank save from Pomfrett to see both teams having chances.

The Manchester coach was clearly unhappy with the go-ahead goal that gave the Huskies the lead, as coach Hagan clearly felt that it was offside in the lead up. It all came from a Cardiff break and some poor mishandling from the Phoenix side that led to a 2 on 1 for the away side, with Andy Swinfen firing an effort and getting blocked but was quick to convert from the rebound and put the South Wales side 3-2 up.  

Cm9K596XgAAkLABManchester players start inquest to 2nd period

The Manchester players during the second break will have had time to reflect on some sloppy plays that led to them conceding a couple of the goals and had a period to make amends. However a freak goal at the start of the final period saw 4th goal being shipped by Phoenix. Play restarted with Lloyd Woodyatt winning the puck and playing it back to Paul Furber, who then just tried a long range shot on goal and saw the puck going straight in and will be one goal that Pomfrett will certainly want back in the Manchester nets.

Karl Nicholson then found himself in the Cardiff zone and managed to thread a ‘eye of the needle’ pass between two Cardiff players and in towards the path of 3 three Manchester forwards who completely missed the pass, as the Phoenix players were almost stunned that the pass made it towards them in the first place. Tyler Christopher then drove into the Phoenix zone with speed and useful stickhandling that saw him bamboozle a couple of Manchester players, but when the forward went to shoot he was stopped by Nicholson right in the nick of time. With a few minutes left to play in the game, it saw a timeout taken by Manchester as they looked to plan one last push in the game. Manchester tried to find a goal to set up a tense finale, but the visitors held on for three league points and closed the gap on Peterborough.

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MAN of The Match : Rob Allen for Manchester , Ty Christopher for Cardiff 

After the game Coach Hagan said “We played well for the most part, but few lapses in concentration let us down, we played so well at times and really gave them a scare. But it just wasn’t to be, and Cardiff showed why they are fighting for the title with Peterborough.

We have one last league game against Sheffield on Sunday 17th July here at Fylde, so we aim to finish on a winning note.

 On the bright side it’s great to get another player making his debut, and he really did well. So a few things to work on in practice, and as long as we learn from games like this, sometimes these losses can be a good thing in the long run.

 

Ice Hockey: Popular Czech Returns to the Storm

 

  VALCAK RETURNS TO THE STORM SHELTER

Val-returns-2-768x576Pic taken from: Manchester Storm website

Manchester Storm announced the re-signing this past Thursday of the 6”2 Czech Left Winger Patrik Valcak, as the Storm continue to build for their 2016-17 season. It means another season for the popular #81 hitting the Ice again for the Altrincham side. The man dubbed the ‘Iceberg’ registered 55 points for the Storm in their first season back in British Ice Hockey’s top flight last year and saw him netting 15 goals and 40 assists on what was a tough season at times for the player.

Valcak was signed from the ECHL side the Allen Americans, after the Ostrava-born native had helped his side going on to win the Kelly Cup prior to joining the Altrincham side.  His career to date has seen him not just collecting the Kelly Cup, but also the prestigious CHL Memorial Cup in Canada with the Kelowna Rockets back in 2004. He also went on to capture a French double with Grenoble Brleurs de Loups in 2006-07 season, as he lifted the French Magnus League and French Cup too, before adding another French Cup to his roll of honour the year after.

From there he went to Poland and picked up a Polish League winner’s medal with Cracovia Krakow, as he posted 109 points from 84 games for the Polish side before making the move across the pond to Texas and namely the Allen Americans. Patrik made 45 appearances for the Americans in his stay there, with 20 points that culminated into Kelly Cup success for him.

storm3-1024x683Pic taken by : Mark Ferris

Last season saw the Czech man finding it har to adjust at first with the Storm and eventually saw him coming into his own midway through the year, in which kick started his season off and saw him producing some fantastic performances for the side. One thing that number 81 could never be accused off was shying away, as he dished out some ‘knuckle-sandwiches’ to a few players that took liberties with him and saw him registering 55 penalty minutes on the season.

His big hitting and dropping the gloves weren’t the only reason that endeared him to the Storm fans, it also saw the Czech man showing his silky moves with the puck and scored a couple of lovely goals too. His play both indivually and as a team player impressed both GM and player-coach enough to bring the popular Czech player back for a second season.

Manchester Storm Coach Omar Pacha told the club’s website: “Firstly, I am delighted to have Val back in our line up ahead of the new season. He has size, skill and brings further toughness to our team. I have a clear role for him this upcoming season which we have discussed at length, he will be a physical presence for us mixed in with his play making attributes too. He gives me flexibility in my line up, as he can also play on D which we saw on a few occasions last season. That flexibility, mixed in with Val’s hunger and desire to return to the Storm made it a no brainer for me to bring him back”.

Manchester Storm GM Neil Russell was equally happy to see him back tell the Storm website: “Patrik is a player I liked a lot last season, I thought from around the turn of the New Year he was superb for us, and we expect that level of intensity from him every single night next season. Also, and myself and Pach mentioned this to Val just yesterday, when he played with that edge, the fans really started to identify with him & it was no surprise that they all were almost demanding that he be brought back.”

Russell continued by saying, “The other thing with Pat that I really like is that he is a straight talker, very professional in how he conducts himself, and I think everyone is aware how great a shape he keeps himself in too. We are building a team that covers all bases with size, grit & skill here in Manchester for this upcoming season, and Val will be another vital component in driving the Storm forwards on that front.”

Speedway: Aces Fend Off Wolves In Top Of The Table Thriller

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BELLE VUE ACES  46 – 44 WOLVERHAMPTON

Belle Vue’s top three underperformed for the Aces in front of the TV cameras on Wednesday night, as they faced the table-topping Wolverhampton Wolves in a top of the table clash. Luckily for the them the rest of the team all came to the party in Max Fricke, reserves Joe Jacobs and Richie Worrall and his brother Steve, as they scored 31 points between then and helped the home time to a tight 46-44 victory.

Things didn’t get off to the best of starts for Belle Vue, after the Wolves Swedish duo of Freddie Lindgren and Peter Karlsson eased to a 5-1 for the visitors in the opening race. The reserves race saw Richie Worrall and Joe Jacobs responding straight away for the Aces and bounced back with a 5-1 of their own. Australian Sam Masters then shown his liking for the National Speedway Stadium track with a win in heat 3, as the Aussie made a great get away from the outside gate to see him pulling clear of Craig Cook after the Cumbrian man was on his back wheel the whole race.

gfgfBelle Vue reserves Richie Worrall & Joe Jacob battle the Wolves pair

Max Fricke then let the visitors know that they wouldn’t have things easy in the match, as the Australian Under-21 rider took heat 4 with a comfortable race win. Peter Karlsson and Max Clegg then helped extending the Wolverhampton lead with a 4-2 in heat 5 and had a similar result in the following race with Lindgren getting the better of Fricke who was all over him like a rash. With Wolverhampton up by 6 points in the meeting, it did seem that the league leaders had the jump on the Aces with their quicker starts and looked to be on course of getting revenge for their thrashing 3 weeks ago.

Masters recorded his second race win of the night for the visitors and fifth for the travelling Monmore Green club, as the meeting was becoming a bit too easy for the Wolves and were out gating and out pacing the home side in the opening half of the meeting. Belle Vue team manager Mark Lemon needed something special from somewhere and he got it in heat 8, when Max Fricke made a great gate for the hosts and saw his team mate Joe Jacobs pushing Peter Karlsson out wide towards the fence and then joined his teammate to send the Aces onto a 5-1 victory and gave the home fans hope that a possible comeback might be on.

 

adadad      Belle Vue’s Steve Worrall blasts around Wolves’ Jacob Thorsell on his way to a 5-1   

If the fans didn’t believe that a comeback was on after the previous race, then they were certainly did in the next race as the ‘brothers from St.Helens’ roared to a second successive 5-1 for Belle Vue, thanks to Steve Worrall getting the better of Jacob Thorsell to help the Aces nip in front at 28-26. Wolverhampton then came back with a couple of 4-2’s of their own in heats 10 & 11, with firstly Swedish duo Lindgren and Karlsson levelling the meeting for the away side and then Klindt and Masters putting the Wolves back in the lead.

This top of the table clash was very much a living up it’s billing and was becoming a see-saw battle between two old rivals. Belle Vue have certainly shown a lot of fight under Mark Lemon over the past season and bit while he has took charge of the famous Manchester club, and Joe Jacobs and Richie Worrall shown their battling qualities securing a 5-1 for the Aces and moved them back ahead at 37-35 and this time never let that lead slip.

Heat 13 on paper looked to be a very good prospect for the Wolves to retake the lead, as between them they had outscored their opposite numbers by 14 points to 8. However, races aren’t won on paper and saw Craig Cook making his first contribution in the match to see him blasting himself around the two Wolves riders and having a good battle with Lindgren that went down to the line. Matej Zagar also came to the party when it mattered most, with the Slovenian picking up third after getting the better of Nicolai Klindt for a 4-2 to the hosts.

With the track becoming slicker towards the back end of the meeting and the dirt by the fence, it saw Jacob Thorsell getting out ahead of Max Fricke and staying put despite the efforts of the Belle Vue man who gave everything to pass him and set up a last heat decider, with the score 44-40 for the Aces. Belle Vue knew that a maximum heat win would stop their opponents from collecting a point from the match, but disaster struck late on for the home side, when Cook shed a chain on the starting gate just moments before the race was about to start. Cook was unable to get a bike ready in time and was excluded under the two minutes rules and saw Belle Vue boss Mark Lemon replacing him with Joe Jacobs.

Freddie Lindgren and Wolverhampton had the last say on what was an entertaining Speedway meeting between the two sides, as Lindgren fended off Fricke to take the win and saw team mate Sam Masters getting passed Joe Jacobs after the Ipswish native had done terrific for a lap to hold him off. Belle Vue took the match 46-44 as well the 3 league points, while Wolverhampton claimed a losing bonus to see them adding to their total too and see the Wolves four points ahead of the Aces in the table.

Belle Vue Aces = 46

1. Matej Zagar – 1, 2, 2, 1 = 6
2. Steve Worrall – 0, 2, 2′, 0 = 4+1
3. Scott Nicholls – 0, 0, 2, 1′ = 3+1
4. Max Fricke – 3, 2, 3, 2, 2 = 12
5. Craig Cook – 2, 1′, 0, 3 = 6+1
6. Richie Worrall – 3, 0, 3, 2′ = 8+1
7. Joe Jacobs – 2′, 0, 2′, 3, 0 = 7+2

Wolverhampton Wolves = 44

1. Freddie Lindgren – 3, 3, 3, 2, 3 = 14
2. Peter Karlsson – 2′, 3, 0, 1 = 6+1
3. Sam Masters – 3, 3, 1, 0, 1 = 8
4. Jacob Thorssell – 2, 0, 1, 3 = 6
5. Nicolai Klindt (G) – 1, 1, 3, 0 = 5
6. Max Clegg – 0, 1, 1, 0 = 2
7. Kyle Howarth – 1, 1′, 0, 1 = 3+1

Sledge Hockey: Phoenix Stun The Kestrels

fe519-045022033dd2144a5b2ac623d484a713KINGSTON KESTRELS   0 – 4  MANCHESTER PHOENIX roundal_sledgehockey-220x311

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Manchester Phoenix Sledge Hockey team recorded one of their most stunning victories in their history, with a 4-0 win at the Hull Ice Arena against one of the powerhouses of British Sledge Hockey in the Kingston Kestrels. Just 14 days earlier the two sides had faced off at the same venue when Manchester was forced to play their ‘home game’ in Hull and saw an entertaining 2-2 draw on that occasion.

Roll on a fortnight later and Kingston were a team in form, as they had beaten their title rivals the Peterborough Phantoms 4-0 in their opponents back yard. Meanwhile, the Phoenix were smarting from a heavy loss down in South Wales against Cardiff and so were hoping to try and get their season back on track. Manchester went into the contest still lacking bodies and had only five out-skaters and was still missing their first choice netminder in Steve Midghall, who was still not fit and so Doug Hankinson was back between the pipes.

The game was played in tricky conditions, with fog causing problems on the ice and played it’s part throughout which caused some errors on both sides. Both teams managed to get three shots on target in the opening period, but Manchester had a 100% success rate with converting their chances as they lead 3-0 at the break. The first goal came in the 8th minute to break the deadlock, after Captain Karl Nicholson made it 1-0 with the assist going to Rob Allen. With just over a minute of the restart, it saw Dominic Cosgrove firing in a one- time shot for 2-0 lead Karl Nicholson and Anthony Booth assisting.

Kingston almost hit back in the game, but the defensive duo of Nicholson and Graham Wilson saw them sweeping up the loose pucks and also had Doug Hankinson in fine form to keep the puck out of the net when called upon. With just over 2 minutes left on the period it saw Rob Allen taking a great pass from Anthony Booth and he slotted home to make it 3-0 and have the away side on top.

At the start of the second, it saw the Phoenix in penalty trouble early after Booth took a T-bone penalty and gave the hosts a power play. With Kingston unable to make the most of their extra man advantage, it saw the Phoenix defence showing that they were able to limit the scoring chances of their opponents. Manchester then had a power play of their own and saw the Kingston netminder down at the other end in Houliston, pulling off some amazing saves to keep the visitors out. Phoenix out-shot their hosts in the second period, with Houliston facing 9 shots and Gibson who replaced him midway through the period, saving just the one.

Manchester was then awarded another opportunity on the power play, this time after a T-bone penalty was given against Fitzgerald and that saw the Phoenix piling the pressure on the Kestrels back line and saw the home side snuffing out the visitors chances. With Kingston getting back to even strength, it then saw Anthony Booth firing in goal number 4 for the visiting side and put the game pretty much to bed. The Kestrels upped their physical play a bit more, as they looked to wear down the Phoenix and find a way to breaching the visitors defences. Sadly for the home team, they were unable to make any head way and so saw victory for the short-benched Manchester Phoenix and finally end the Indian sign that Kestrels had over in the league.

After the game Coach Peter Hagan was full of praise for the team “Our last game didn’t really go how we would have liked in a lot of areas, but credit to the team, they got to work, they held themselves accountable and a few things were discussed to sort things out. They wanted to put things right and really came to play today, everyone was focussed. Kingston are always hard to play so we are delighted with the result, and it shows how competitive the league is, with no easy games. A great result, but we will be working hard ready to go for our next game and try finish the season as well as we can.”

 

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Phoenix face the Cardiff Huskies in a return fixture at the Flyde Ice Rink this upcoming Saturday Evening as the Phoenix hoping to pick up as many points as possibly with the season drawing to a close.