Manchester Storm 4 – 5 Braehead Clan
This weekend saw the Manchester Storm welcoming two fellow Gardiner Conference opponents to the ‘Storm Shelter’ and also snapped their recent Three-game losing streak in the process. After two losses last weekend which saw Manchester firstly going down in a shoot-out to Dundee Stars, they were then ripped apart by their opening opponents of the weekend in the Braehead Clan.
Saturday night saw the Braehead Clan returning to the Silverblades Ice Rink in Altrincham for their second visit in seven days, as they looked to make it three wins in a row on Manchester’s home ice. The home side was boosted by the return of Canadian forward Darian Dziurzynski to the line up, after he suffered a nasty injury against Nottingham at the start of this month.
A week ago saw the Clan put the home side to the sword with a 5-2 victory and had Manchester losing Eric Neilson for the immediate future after suffering a horrific eye injury that he sustained in the game. You could make the case that tiredness and poor shooting selection were a couple of key reasons they lost the game last time out, but by in large it was down to the hard work of the Braehead side.
Both teams were pretty much cancelling each other out for the first part of the period, with the home side making sure they didn’t give up any easy chances like they was doing last time out. Manchester broke the deadlock through a powerplay strike by returnee Darian Dziurzynski, with captain Trevor Johnson and Matt Bissonnette credited with assists. That lead lasted all of seven seconds, when a failure by the hosts to get organised from the restart, saw the Clan heading up ice and had Matt Keith finding the twine to the tie game up at 1-1 at 12-46.
Braehead then had their goalscorer heading to the box for a tripping call and this then led to a controversial moment in the game. What followed saw Corey Cowick of the Clan picking up a 10 minute abuse of official call off Referee Tom Darnell and had Linesman Kris Wells trying to grab the player and lead him away from the referee and towards the box, but instead had the player taking exception too the grab and shoving the official.
That would have seen the Braehead man gone for sure, but for the match Referee discussing the penalties at the scorers table. As play got back underway it saw Cody Cartier putting the hosts back in front at 2-1 and you could say that over the balance of play in the first, the home side was probably just deserving of the lead. In the second period it saw a story of two halves, as for the first part it was dominated by the Storm and then had the Clan coming right back into the game.
At 27:39 it saw Matt Bissonnette opening up a two goal lead for Manchester, when the forward cut in from the left wing and then fired a low shot by Craig Russell in the Braehead goals to give the Storm a 3-1 lead and looked like the home side was well on their way to getting some revenge. Later on in the period it saw a penalty against Manchester captain Trevor Johnson and that saw the Clan handed a powerplay. From there Corey Cowick who arguably could be been shown the gate for his earlier exploits in the game, then gave the visitors a way back into the game and in truth saw all their hard work in the second part of the period reaping their rewards.
With the home side holding a slim one goal advantage entering the third period, it had the hosts needing to be able to kill off the game and stop the attacks of the visiting side. Sadly for the home fans though, that was not to be the case and had both teams playing end to end hockey. Manchester much like the week before started to show signs of creaking under the pressure they were under, and came as no surprise when Trevor Hendrikx made it a three-all game before the halfway point of the third.
That goal sparked a crazy two-minute spell in the game when the Clan tied the game up through Hendrikx and then had Bissonnette restoring the lead again for the Storm a minute and seven seconds later, only for the away side to strike right back again and score through Scott Aarssen. Storm’s defending had gone from solid as rock, to now bursting their defensive banks with some very poor play indeed and allowed the Clan to make it a 4-4 game.
Braehead were now firmly in control now of the game with the Storm struggling to even mount any offence and saw the home side pinned in their own zone. It then saw a strange run of play which led to the visitors going in front, as with the net nearly toppling on top of Mike Clemente in the Storm goal, it saw the puck partly cleared away and with the goalie starting to pick up his water bottle the Clan regaining possession of the puck and Michael Beca netted the winning goal at 52-50.
It was hard to fathom how on earth Manchester went from being in control in the game, to now going into meltdown and having players all skating down the same side of the boards and leaving the other wing wide open for their opponents to have chances on. Play from the hosts had seen them from the middle of the second period on wards almost just come to a stop and that allowed the Clan to come storming back, pardon the pun.
With less than a minute of play to go in the game, it saw Omar Pacha pulling the goalie for the Storm and putting the extra attacker out on the ice. Storm were needlessly dumping the puck into the Clan zone when they really should have been trying to take into the Clan zone themselves, but they were making a complete hash of things in truth. Braehead then had a chance to score an empty net goal, but some good defending stopped it from happening and saw the Scottish side snuffing out the last opportunity for the home side and inflict a third straight loss on the Storm side.
Manchester Storm 3 – 0 Fife Flyers
After the disappointment of the previous evening against Braehead, the Storm looked bounce back and make amends for that loss on Saturday with the Fife Flyers coming to town and as side that had annihilated Manchester up in Kirkcaldy 7-0 earlier in the season.
The match also brought about another familiar face for the Storm faithful, in the form of top scorer for the side last year in Matt Sisca. On this night though Manchester was to put on a far better rear-guard showing and had the hosts returning the favour on their Scottish opponents with a 3-0 shutout of the Flyers.
A goal in each period helped the Storm claim their first win in three games, as Connor Varley scored the first with a powerplay strike in the opening period, before player-coach Omar Pacha made it 2-0 in the second and then Darian Dziurzynski sealed victory with an empty net goal towards the end of the game to move Manchester up to fifth place in the standings and get a vital W in the wins column.