MANCHESTER STORM 8-7 COVENTRY BLAZE (After Overtime)
An overtime goal by Mike Hammond helped finally bring an end to the overtime ‘hoodoo’ that that plagued the Manchester Storm since hitting the ice three years ago, to have the home side winning 8-7 against the Coventry Blaze to see remain perfect at home after their two pre-season games.
Manchester welcomed the Blaze to the Altrincham Ice Rink for the Storm’s final pre season game before the real action begins this upcoming weekend and saw both sides playing out an incredible game, where defence for either team was really far from the fore front of anyone’s mind in the contest.
The hosts were two forwards down for the game, as Shane Bakker was missing through injury and Chris Auger was also absent too, as he picked up a knock in the win on Sunday against Sheffield.
Both teams had chances early on in the game, but it was the visitors that took the lead against the run of play at 7.30 through a Ben Lake goal, after a pass at the side of the net by Brett Robinson saw the Blaze man tapping home for a 1-0 lead.
The home side then thought that they had scored midway through the period when shot by Luke Moffatt saw the referee deferring to the newly installed goal-line technology for the league this year, but after studied the replay the referee Liam Sewell ruled it no goal and remained in favour of Coventry.
Manchester was dominating the possession, but the only stat that counted was that the Blaze were in front on the scoreboard. Matt Stanisz then levelled things up with a blast from the blue line that beat netminder Brython Preece all ends up for a 1-1 score at 16.40, and that saw the home side back in the game.
Brett Robinson then sat for two minutes in the penalty box for a holding call against him, which gave the Storm a chance to take the lead on the power play. The Storm thought got caught out while having the man advantage, which led to the visitors break quickly up ice with Ryan Dingle and Marc-Olivier Vallerand and have Vallerand finishing to restor the Blaze lead at 16.54.
The hosts still had their power play on going, and that saw captain Jay Rosehill firing home to make it 2-2 as the period looked to be heading all square. As it was, the Blaze had other ideas and scored a third goal which was much a carbon copy of their second goal. This time it saw Garrett Ladd feeding Vallerand at the far post and he coolly finished to have Coventry going into the break 3-2 up.
Ryan Finnerty then made a netminding change at the start of the second, with Declan Ryan replacing Mike Clemente in the Manchester goal and his first action was scoop the puck from out his net, after Ben Lake grabbing his second of the game after goal line technology was used once again to give the Blaze a 4-2 lead early on.
Gerald Hanson then made it a one goal game to make it 3-4 on the Power play after the Swede cut the deficit in half, before Nate Fleming tied the game up at 4-4. The home side had the momentum swing to their side now and looked to capitalise on it too, as their hitting game moved up a notch or too and saw and the physical play being brought out more.
Ciaran Long then scored his first goal for the club, as he put the hosts in front with 1.24 left to go in the period for 5-4 with the ex-Basingstoke man making space and firing high on Preece.
A crazy passage of play then saw the Blaze equalising before the period’s end, when defenceman Dallas Ehrhardt saw his shot hitting the post for the home side and then saw play coming back up the other end and have Jordan Pietrus netting thanks to some inventive passing by his linemate for the goal.
As the game entered the third period, it saw the sides going back and forth with waves of attack by both teams and have the game being played in a ‘gung-ho style’ for the rest of the game. Coventry then went on the power play after Luke Moffatt was called for a tripping penalty and that soon saw the Blaze making full use of the extra man with Ryan Dingle making it 6-5.
Matt Bissonnette then grabbed the Storm’s 6th goal of the game, after a beautifully worked power play saw the Canadian forward making it all square again and turning see this game still looking like having plenty more goals to come yet.
With 12.47 to go in the third, it saw Ryan Dingle netting his second goal of the game to make it 7-6 for the visiting side, as he managed to slip the puck through the legs of Declan Ryan and have the Blaze taking the lead for the fifth time in the game.
Ryan Finnerty’s side then found themselves with a 5 on 3 power play coming their way, to which Mike Hammond found the back of the net for a tying goal and saw this extraordinary game level once more.
Surprisingly, with no further scoring in the game it saw overtime needed to find a winner between the two sides. It saw a short overtime period played, as with Coventry having a couple of quick shots it saw Storm breaking up ice with Mike Hammond clear through and the former Braehead man slid it under Preece for the game winner for the Storm in a crazy, crazy game.
The goal wasn’t just a normal game winner, but it also a historic one for the Manchester Storm, as Mike Hammond became the first ever Storm player to score an overtime winner in their short history as part of their victory.
Next up for Manchester will see Ryan Finnerty coming up against his former employees along with Jay Rosehill, Matt Beca and Mike Hammond as they take on the Braehead Clan home and away game in the start of the Challenge Cup.