Ice Hockey: Storm 'weathered' by Scottish foes

photo            Manchester Storm   3   –   5   Braehead Clan               Braehead_Clan

Three unanswered goals in the first period and a hat-trick to boot for Canadian Matt Beca was enough for the struggling Braehead Clan to finally claim their first win of the season and take two Elite League points off a fellow Gardiner Conference opponent in the Manchester Storm, with a deserved 5-3 road victory at the Altrincham Ice Rink. 

It saw the home side blasting out of the traps early in the contest with the Storm well on top of a struggling Clan side who hadn’t won a competitive game so far this season and was read the riot act by their Coach Ryan Finnerty and the Owners prior to this weekend after their poor start to the season. It took just 98 seconds for the Storm to take the lead in the game after a low shot by Eric Neilson from a face-off win by Jack Prince, seeing Neilson’s effort fly passed the Braehead goalie into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead for the home team. It seemed that their poor start to the season may continue for the away side after going behind so early, but Ryan Finnerty’s clawing their way back and almost seemed to wake up the Clan team.

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Picture taken from : Manchester Storm.com

The visitors then drew level with a lovely solo goal by Matt Beca who toe-dragged the puck around Storm coach Omar Pacha before flipping it passed Mike Clemente in the Manchester net for a 1-1 game after 6.07 and had the travelling ‘Purple Army’ on their feet. Braehead then upped their game and physical play on the home side to which the Storm couldn’t find an answer for, and saw the Clan forwards having a lot of joy in the Manchester end. Play had really swung in the favour of the visitors and minutes after tying the game, it saw Braehead finding the net again for a 2-1 lead courtesy of Scott Pitt putting home after a long cross ice pass by Cody Carlson to Matt Beca saw him playing a weighted pass across the face of goal and Pitt flicked it home and had the visitors quickly turning this game around.

Matt Beca made it 3-1 for the Clan at 18.38 after he tipped in a shot at the side of the net from a Lee Baldwin effort at the blue line and the Storm were left dumbstruck, with the home side were all over the place and being out played by their Scottish opponents. Things got worse for the home side when Matt Bisonnette’s night was done after picking up an injury and forced him to miss the rest of the game and Sunday’s game up at Edinburgh. Moving to the Second period and the home side were finding it difficult to make simple passes to each other and was constantly getting in each other’s way when trying to launch attack on their opponents. That mainly was credit to the way the Braehead side set up, as they weren’t allowing the home side time on the puck and was closing them down in the neutral zone.

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Cody Cartier celebrates his goal: Picture taken from Manchester Storm.com

In the Second period it saw the away side having the better of the early play and had Manchester trying to respond after being hit with three straight goals in the first. It saw a response coming through a Cody Cartier goal after Mark Heatley poked the puck off a Braehead players stick and led to Cartier and Patrik Valcak breaking away up ice on a 2-on-1, with the Czech forward playing the puck back to Cartier who delayed his shot and then fired the puck by the goalie for a 2-3 score and got the hosts back in the game. A rare error by Paul Swindlehurst soon after almost let in the Clan, when the Manchester defenseman was unable to control the puck and saw Matt Haywood braking away from the Storm man and was tripped up by Paul Phillips on the play as Clemente made the save and had the American sitting a two minute call.

Manchester were looking far from the side that had beaten Sheffield, Coventry and Cardiff in recent weeks, as the visitors were just always that bit quicker to everything and was capitalising on mistakes that the Storm were making. So it came as no surprise when Braehead made it 2-4 at 43.12 and equally not surprising when Matt Beca completed his hat-trick with a quick turn and shot to beat the Manchester goalie to put the defending Gardiner Conference champions two goals to the good. Beca was then involved in a nasty incident involving Manchester’s Darian Dziurzynski, in which the Braehead forward looked to have got his elbow up high into the face of the Storm man as the two men skated for the loose puck and saw Dziurzynski hitting the ice hard and taking the referee down as well. Despite the protest from Beca he was given a 2+10 checking to the head call and as he made his way to the box the clearly angry Manchester player made a bee-line for Beca and needed the Braehead players to stop him from getting to their team mate, as Jay Rosehill was the last line of defence and saw order being to be restored. 

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Storm’s Mike Clemente & Connor Varley keeping eye on Clan’s Corey Cowick:  Pic taken from Manchester Storm

The home side seemed to feed off the hit and saw them scoring on the man advantage through a Mario-Valery Trabucco goal on the power play, after Connor Varley threw the puck on goal and got a slight tip by Jack Prince that had the puck bounce off the pads of Michal Zajkowski right into the path of ‘Super Mario’ as the Storm fans have dubbed him, and make it 3-4 game with over ten to play in the third. That incident from Beca seemed to spur the home side to life for the rest of the game and had the home side throwing everything at the Clan goal and needed some good saves by the goalie as Manchester pressed for a tying goal. With Manchester trying to gain possession of the puck and get it down in the Braehead zone in order to pull the keeper with less than a minute to go, instead it saw some fantastic work by the visiting forwards to cut out any passes that may have reached the Clan zone and saw time running out for the hosts. Eventually they managed to pull the goalie for the extra skater, but an over hit pass by Trevor Johnson bounced off Mario Trubucco and fell nicely for Kyle Wharton to back hand to Alex Leavitt and he shot it into an empty net for a 5-3 win for the Scottish side and lifted the gloom on the Glasgow-based side.

Omar Pacha after the game told Storm TV that “It was a tough one to swallow. I think tonight, we didn’t have our best game by any means, and we didn’t execute. 

“We started off really strong in the first five minutes as we were all over them, then i unfortunately i got beat one on one and then they got a goal and that just gave them that momentum. A few break downs defensively and it was 3-1 and we weren’t doing the simply things in that first period that has made us successful. So in the long run if you look back at that first period that’s what probably cost us the game.”

When asked about the good start and then how well Braehead came back and played, Pacha replied “They made it really tough on us the whole night, I think we were giving them opportunities and chances by not doing the simply detaield things that we had worked on throughout the week.

“Maybe that was a bit of over-confidence that first period when we started out really strong and then we had chances, Neiler (Neilson) got a good goal, that line i thought was probably our best line the whole night. They were working hard following the system and i just think we had a few breakdowns which was uncharacteristic of this team”.

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Edinburgh Capitals  3-2  Manchester Storm  

(After Penalties)

The night after Storm travelled up to Murrayfield Ice Rink to face a much changed and in-form Edinburgh Capitals side that has undergone a huge change during the summer, with the huge acquisition of former Carolina Hurricanes player Jared Staal to their ranks. The game saw goalie Travis Fullerton who had a successful spell at Braehead last year as Chris Holt’s stand in having a stunning game in between the pipes for the home side, as the Storm tried to bounce back after Saturday nights disappointment.  

Staal broke the deadlock in the game during the second period to put the Capitals a goal up, that was cancelled out early in the third by a Trevor Johnson goal to make it 1-1 and then Cody Cartier put Manchester 2-1 ahead midway through the third before Jared Staal grabbed his second goal of the game to send it to overtime. With 3-on-3 overtime unable to determine a winner, it went to the lottery of the penalty shoot-outs and saw Pavel Vorobyev and Mario-Valery Trabucco scoring in the best-of-three for both teams. With both teams missing their respective shots in the first round of sudden death it had Edinburgh getting a huge slice of luck, after Mike Clemente slipped when skating back to his crease after trying to narrow the angle and despite him throwing his stick to stop the puck from going in, Vorobyev made it count and needed Trabucco to score to keep it going and sadly for the Storm he couldn’t and saw the Capitals claiming the extra point. 

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