Manchester Mayhem Season Review 2017: ‘Reboot, Struggles and Glory’

The 2017 Para Ice Hockey Season will go down as another season in the statistic book, and have teams looking back and either ruing their season or seeing it as a positive step forward for next year.

However, for one team, in particular, it saw a fairy-tale ending play out for for the Manchester Mayhem Para Ice Hockey Team in their maiden-year, as they won the Playoff trophy for 2017 and if history had been different, then they may well have never taken to the Ice at all.  

In 2016, the then-named Manchester Phoenix Sledge Hockey team finished a creditable fourth out of fifth in the British Sledge Hockey League and played the entire season without a home to call their own.

With the announcement of their bigger brothers in the Manchester Phoenix having a fall out with their rink owners in Altrincham over ice time and other reasons, it saw the Sledge team practically fending for itself and made the conscious effort to not be drawn into the argument and play their games on the road.

Their home games were played out of Deeside in North Wales, another in Hull where they were the home side against..Hull! And their remaining two games were played in the now-defunct Fylde Ice Coast Arena, just outside Blackpool.

It was a case of trying to make the best out of a bad situation and meant that the side could continue on and see out the season as they posted three wins, with most notably the 4-0 win in Hull over the hometown Kingston Kestrels being the stand-out result of the season.

However after the season ended, it saw the Sledge side waiting on what the senior side did and with the proposed plans of a new Ice Rink to be built in Central Manchester for the Phoenix in mind, it saw hopes being nothing more than pipe dreams and had the council refusing to give the go-ahead.

That ultimately put the final nail in the coffin for the Manchester Phoenix Ice Hockey club as a whole, and that left the sledge team in a quandary over what to do. With no home, no team name with the Phoenix folding and a very bleak future indeed for the remaining members of the club, it saw the team virtually on the edge of disbanding and going their separate ways.

Head coach Peter Hagan explains what followed, “it was touch and go in one sense, we had no home rink, we hadn’t trained as a team properly for about 7-8 months etc, so it wasn’t a great outlook. After discussions with the players, it was agreed it would be easier to disband and play for other teams….at least until the new Manchester rink that was being talked about was built.

However, the players all decided we were going to continue, regardless of the difficulties, as we believed in ourselves as a group.” He continued to explain the name change too, saying “The name change happened as the Manchester Phoenix ceased operations, just 2 months before our season started.

We decided to start a fresh, be a new independent club. We had about 2 months to sort out ice time for training and games, a new name, logo and jerseys….luckily we pulled it off!”

The league itself changed too and moved to be more in keeping with the rest of the Para Hockey around the world too and saw the ‘British Sledge Hockey League‘ now becoming the ‘British Para Ice Hockey League’ for the start of the 2017 season.

With the proposed plans of the Endeavour Eagles not yet ready to take flight in the league as of yet, it saw the league being a compact four-team league with no word on if Manchester would enter a team.

Manchester then made their intentions known that they would indeed be icing again in the league, the only thing now was, they didn’t have a team name or an identity to separate themselves from their old guise of the Phoenix.

It saw a team decision on the name and colours for the jersey and where to training needing to be sorted, Pete Hagan fills in the blanks, “We had about 2 months to sort out ice time for training and games, a new name, logo, and jerseys….luckily we pulled it off!”.

“The name was one of several suggested by the players, so we had a vote and Mayhem was the clear winner. Think it really summed up the previous few months perfectly! The team came up with the name & the new jersey and voted in fan submissions for the logo. So really a team effort”. 

With the ‘MAYHEM’ name now in place and the remaining players at the club all buying into the new club set up, it saw the side raring to go for the start of season, so I asked the Head Coach, what his early thoughts were for his side before the opening puck drop to the season.

He replied,“For the first time I had no real sense of what to expect. We’d only had 2 sessions together in about a year or so, we had several injuries to our already depleted squad, just a week or two before our first game, so was hard to gauge. My aim was to make the Play-Offs, which wasn’t going to be easy, with all teams getting stronger, was going to be a tough season. The main focus was survival, get through the season and still be there! Maybe modest aims to some, but after all, we had been through, not to us”.

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Manchester Mayhem 3 – 8 Cardiff Huskies – Goals: Bailey, Booth 2x

Manchester started their new season off with two home matches, as they finally sorted Ice time with Altrincham and Widnes for the forthcoming season. They opened up their league programme with the visit of the Cardiff Huskies to the Altrincham Ice Rink and it was a good test to see how they fared.

It saw the Mayhem starting the season with a threadbare squad and wasn’t helped by the loss of forwards Rob Allen and Dominic Cosgrove, Cosgrove of which was ruled out effectively before the season got underway and saw a skeleton line up for the opening game against Cardiff.

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Mayhem’s Pat Bailey the meat in a Cardiff sandwich – Pic: 98 Yetiiis Photography

Things didn’t get off to the best of starts either, as the home side quickly found themselves two down in the game until a Pat Bailey strike made it 2-1 and also became the first player to score in the Mayhem’s history.

Anthony Booth scored in the second period to see the Mayhem trying to stay in touch with the Huskies after the Welsh side had extended their lead. Booth’s goal made it a one-goal game at 3-2, but Manchester’s lack of bodies and fast-breaking by their opponents, saw the home side tire and allowed the Huskies to capitalise and put five unanswered goals past the Mayhem back line, until Booth scored a late consolation for the home side and saw them eventually fall 8-3 to Cardiff.

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MAYHEM 6 – 2 SHEFFIELD STEELKINGS – Goals: Booth 4x, Nicholson, Berry

The following weekend saw the first ‘War of the Roses’ meeting of the season, with the Mayhem welcoming the Sheffield Steelkings to town and also saw the start of a proper ‘rivalry’ starting ignite between the two Roses sides as well. 

Sheffield had former Great Britain Para Hockey Legend Gary Farmer in their ranks for the first half of the season and having someone with his ability and experience made the Steelking a far tougher nut to crack than previously.

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Mayhem’s Karl Nicholson coming under pressure by Sheffield’s Gary Farmer – Pic: 98 Yetiiis Photography

Both netminders in Steve Midghall of the Mayhem and Bryan Hackworth of the Steelkings were tested in the opening period of play, yet it produced a goalless first period and had both sides not wanting to give an inch to their opponent.

Sheffield led early in the second, through a Gary Farmer goal for the visitors, but that was soon cancelled out by two quick goals by the home side as Mayhem captain Karl Nicholson drew the scores level, and then Anthony Booth making it 2-1 to give the hosts the lead.

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Steve Midghall of Manchester keeps his eye on the puck – pic: All Sports Photography

Booth grabbed his second of the game for a 3-1 scoreline before Farmer from Sheffield did the same, and he cut the deficit to one at the midway mark. Karl Nicholson made it 4-2 late in the 2nd before the hitting started to pick up on both sides, and saw signs of a rivalry starting to brew between the two youngest teams in the league.

Anthony Booth then completed his hat-trick before helping himself to a fourth goal early in the third, as the Mayhem started to pull away from their opponents and finished the Steelkings off with a late goal by Simon Berry, who was guesting from the Kingston Kestrels, to help the Mayhem record their first win as a club.

 

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Sheffield Steelkings 10 – 2 MAYHEM – Goals: Nicholson, Booth

It also saw a healthy crowd watching on from the stands and it felt like a big game, that even the players appreciated and would see the crowds growing a bit more towards the end latter part of the season when they played down at Widnes. After recording their maiden win over Sheffield a week earlier, the sides renewed acquaintances over the hills in South Yorkshire, as the Steelkings wanted revenge for their 6-2 loss to Manchester the week before.

A packed crowd at Ice Sheffield watched on as the Steelkings who had never won a game in their history, saw them going into the second ‘War of the Roses’ match extremely pumped up and in truth, it was due to happen for them, but I don’t think anyone could have predicted the onslaught that followed, not even the Sheffield players themselves.

Manchester rotated their netminders with Doug Hankinson getting the start for the Mayhem, as Hankinson played the road games for Manchester and saw Steve Midghall playing the home games for the Mayhem. The game, however, proved to be a disaster from the opening minute and never really got any better. Firstly, Gary Farmer put the visitors to the sword and netted a first-period hat-trick or the Steelkings, as the visitors were in deep trouble early doors.

Head Coach Pete Hagan had drafted in help due to a lack of bodies for the game, with Rob Allen, Dom Cosgrove and now Dean Laham all missing from the side and so Tony King helped out from the Kingston Kestrels and also saw Elizabeth Turner making her debut for the Manchester side in the contest. 

In truth though, this was no contest, this was was an all-out assault from the Sheffield Steelkings from the get-go. After two periods of hockey, it was 5-0 and when it was all said and done it was 10-2 at the end. Not even consolations goals by Karl Nicholson and Anthony Booth could paper over the cracks of what was an appalling performance and certainly a game to forget, where everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.

In a way, that loss proved to be a mid-season kick up the backside and turning point in the Mayhem’s season, as Manchester travelled down to Peterborough and faced a side that under their previous guise, had done terribly bad against the Phantoms down in Cambridgeshire. 

However, that was then and this was now, and the Mayhem showed the home side what a small band of players could do and they put in one of their best performance to secure a huge result. 

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Peterborough Phantoms 3 – 6 MAYHEM – Goals: Nicholson x 5, Booth

Karl Nicholson put his side 2-0 up in the first period, after two strikes gave the Mayhem a base to build on going forward, however, the home side responded with goals by Ian Warner and Scotty Turner to make it 2-2. Darren Brown then added a third for the Phantoms to give them a 3-2 lead in the game. 

Now it was the Mayhem’s turn to respond, and respond they did, as Anthony Booth levelled things up at 3-3 before Nicholson scored three unanswered goals for 6-3 and have the visiting side picking up the road win and the first one on the road of the season.

Defeat in Cardiff ended all hopes of a possible title challenge against the unbeaten Kingston Kestrels, but the priority was now to secure a Playoff spot with three teams all vying for just two slots left up for grabs.

Two of three sides fighting Manchester for one of the two playoff spots was Sheffield, who had games in hand and also had the Mayhem’s next opponents Peterborough up next. 

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MAYHEM 3 – 2 Phantoms (OT) – Goals: Wilson x2, Nicholson 

The Mayhem played their first home game at the Widnes Ice Rink and had more riding on this fixture than it looked. If Manchester could beat the Phantoms, then the Mayhem would qualify for the playoffs with a game to go. 

However, if they lost, then it would see their fate out of their hands and need results to go their way and may have to beat the newly crowned champions Kingston Kestrels in their final game, to make it through as the season came down to the wire.

It was a weird game that twisted and turned like a twisty-turny thing as they would say in Blackadder. Manchester was given a huge boost ahead of the contest, with Rob Allen and Dean Laham returning to the lineup for the Mayhem, as they iced their strongest side of the season, and what a time to finally have them back.

From the off, it saw the home side battering down the Phantoms goal and having Robin Gaze in the Peterborough goals producing one of, if not, the best netminding performances ever seen in the league before. 

The home side took the lead with 2.20 left in the first period and came from an unlikely source, as defenceman Graham Wilson found himself free at the front of the Phantoms net and was on hand to put it in for a 1-0 lead and score his first-ever Para Hockey goal of his career. 

Surely, this was a sign that the Mayhem were on their way to booking their place in the Playoffs if the man nicknamed ‘Pain Train’ was scoring, right?

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Graham Wilson and Mayhem coach Pete Hagan celebrate a goal

Manchester continued to dominate the game and just couldn’t find the insurance marking goal by Gaze to kill the game off. In the third, it saw the home side making tired plays and losing their concentration more and always foregoing their game plan.

Peterborough who had been virtually camped in their own half for most of the game, then saw the Phantoms scoring with eight minutes remaining in the game courtesy of Matt Coleman scoring and putting the cat amongst the pigeons to tie the game.

The Phantoms had sparked into life and not what the home side wanted to have to happen. Kieran O’Meara then capitalized on a mistaking at the back for 2-1 and that looked to have stuck the dagger in the Mayhem hearts late on. 

Manchester was now playing desperate hockey threw caution to the wind and their efforts and hard work finally brought them a reward, as the captain Karl Nicholson scoring with 2.53 left to go in the contest. 

It saw the contest heading to an overtime period and saw chances for both sides and have the hosts ringing the post and crossbar. Somehow, Gaze was pulling off save after incredible save to keep Peterborough in the game and give them a chance to increase their chances of a playoff spot. 

It seemed like the game was heading to a penalty shoot-out with the scores level and neither side able to score, as the game entered the final minute. However, the Mayhem would net the game-winner and have Graham Wilson as the hero of the moment yet again, as he slipped the puck past the Gaze for the overtime winner.

One question to be asked on the goal was, what on earth was the defenceman doing that high up was anyone’s guess, but to use a twist on a line from Gerald Sinstadt’s commentary back in the 1988 when Great Britain won the Gold Medal, “Where were the Phantoms defenders, and Quite frankly, who cares”. 

The aftermath sparked wild celebrations and saw the Mayhem qualifying for their first playoffs in their first year in existence as the new club. There’s no getting away how much of a huge achievement this was for the club moving forward though.

 

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(British Para Hockey Ice Hockey Playoffs Weekend @ Hull Ice Arena)

Kingston Kestrels  2 – 3 Manchester MAYHEM

Manchester MAYHEM  5 – 0 Cardiff Huskies

Manchester then faced the Kingston Kestrels home and away and saw the Hull-based side beating the Mayhem on both occasions, which helped set-up a third successive game against each other, but this time it came in the form of a Semi-Final meeting in the end of season play-offs in Hull.

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Manchester Mayhem Playoff Champions 2017 – Pic: 98 Yetiiis Photography

Manchester produced a stunning weekend to scoop the Play-off trophy, as they didn’t only just beat the previously undefeated league champions the Kingston Kestrels 3-2 on their home patch, but they followed it up the next day, as they beat the Cardiff Huskies by an Incredible ‘Hawaii’ scoreline of 5-0 to see the side that nearly didn’t happen, crowned the new Play-off champions of 2017 in the Manchester Mayhem Para Ice Hockey Club.

 

The last word belongs to the Head Coach of the Manchester Mayhem Pete Hagan, as he rounds up the 2017 season as a whole:

“The play offs were amazing! We came in with a few injuries and missing personnel on both days, so the the title really meant a lot! All the work and effort the team put in was rewarded and I’m so proud of this group! Those were the two best games of the season….possibly of our groups existence! Everyone brought their A game and just kept calm and never got panicked. The season was tough and to be fair, completing the season was our goal, as we had so little prep time and had to get everything sorted in a hurry.

We are hoping to build on that and hope to be able to grow the sport, gain further support from local communities and businesses and push in for an even better season in 2018. Just want to thank everyone who has helped us from volunteers at match nights, our club photographer Lauren Hagan, yourself (Peter Bradbury) for all the write ups and filming, Victory Hockey UK for believing in us and sponsoring us, and the fans who turned up and helped create a brilliant atmosphere….without them, we probably don’t have a team at this point!

Lastly the players, they believed in moving forward and continuing the sport in the North West, when it seemed at times it would disappear, so a huge thank you to them all!….however, the hard work is just beginning!

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Wilson at the Double as Mayhem secure Playoff spot in Overtime thriller.

                                                   

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MANCHESTER MAYHEM   3 – 2  PETERBOROUGH PHANTOMS (AOT) 

Two goals by Manchester defenceman Graham Wilson helped seal his sides playoff place in their debut season thanks to a 3-2 overtime win over fellow playoff chasers the Peterborough Phantoms in a thriller at Widnes SilverBlades Ice Rink.

Both teams went into the contest knowing that win for either side would be a huge push towards their own playoff hopes and aspirations, with the losing side having their task made a bit more harder. This year has seen a difficult one for both teams on the ice and for Manchester equally as tough on and off this season coming quickly and after a tough year both teams on the ice this season. 

The games first chance fell the way of the Mayhem side early on, with Anthony Booth dispossessing a Phantoms man at centre ice and saw his teammate Karl Nicholson getting up in support to join the attack and after a quick pass up towards him, the effort on goal was well dealt with by Rob Gaze in the Peterborough goals.

Manchester were the clear aggressors in the game early on and put a lot of pressure on their opponents, to begin with, and had the Phantoms at threes and fours on many occasions. Peterborough then had a man sent to the box for a penalty and that saw more play down in the Phantoms end, but brought no reward to the Mayhem side as shots were wayward.

Forward Anthony Booth then found himself getting behind the Phantoms defence in the game and having a clear route to goal from the wing, but his shot was stopped dead by Gaze in the visiting goals and would be a recurring theme throughout the game. Matt Coleman then had the Phantoms first real sight on goal with a shot at the near post, with the Mayhem goalie Steve Midghall making a good save to deny the Peterborough man and keep the game goalless.

Gaze was obviously in no mood to let anything puck based get by him in the game, as it saw him being forced to make another fine save off Ant Booth, and repel everything to help his side out, as they were coming under heavy fire from the Manchester forwards. Coleman once more tested Midghall in goal again from distance, but the netminder more than equal to it and saw the goalies looking on good form.

With Manchester dominating the play in the period and not having much to show for their efforts, it came as no surprise then when the home side finally opened the scoring with 2.20 left to go in the period thanks to an unlikely scorer.

After a long pass up the boards was taken in by Rob Allen it saw him battling on the blue line before getting a quick pass away to Karl Nicholson, who then spun and found Booth skating down the left wing and quickly made a pass across the face of goal for Graham Wilson to get on the end of and score his first career goal for a 1-0 lead.

Manchester pushed hard for the second goal soon after, with defenceman Dean Laham almost doubling the lead a minute later for the home side with a high shot but the puck just went over the bar of the Phantoms net and saw the Mayhem continuing to swarm all over the Peterborough crease.

Steve Bradley then went close before the end of the period with an effort from point blank range with the netminder yet again coming up trumps for the Phantoms and making a good stop to keep to a one-goal deficit after one period of play.

The second period saw the proverbial ice tilted towards the Phantoms end as the Manchester side came out well on top in the period, but just could not find any way passed Rob Gaze in the opposition’s goal as he was having a stormer of a game. Peterborough was really struggling to find any rhythm in the game and was becoming difficult to force their way back, but with the score line as it was, they were always still in the contest.

Peterborough then struck the goalpost and sent a warning to their opponents that they were not fully out of this game yet, and could still be dangerous when given half the chance. Manchester was carving out a few more goal scoring chances for themselves, but in the process, they weren’t able to convert them and had Gaze proving to be a thorn in the Manchester side. 

As play moved to the third, it saw the Mayhem continuing to dominating and saw Anthony Booth going close with effort inside the opening minute of the period but had it come to nothing.

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The game then began to see the home side starting to look a bit sloppy in their play and make some poor decision making in their approach play too. This seemed to encourage the travelling Phantoms side and saw him inching their way back into the game more and more put the hosts now slowly on the back foot.

It was a pretty stop-start period to begin in truth, with the whistle being blown for a lot of the time early doors. Despite Manchester having more goal attempts than that of their opponent’s, those efforts that they were creating though weren’t too threatening at all and saw the Mayhem unable to find this second goal that you felt would kill the game off. 

With the scoreline standing at 1-0 still in favour of the Mayhem, it was almost inevitable that the away side would strike and make them pay and that is just what happened. Matt Coleman scored the equaliser after a pass to Kieran O’Meara saw him playing it back to Coleman for the Peterborough man to fire a low shot into the far corner of the net and make it 1-1 with just over 8 minutes of the game left to go.

Peterborough had been reinvigorated with that goal by Matt Coleman and saw the visitors now having the play in their favour and tilting the ice on their opponents. The visiting side then took the lead soon after thanks to Matt Coleman’s second goal of the game and came about from the Mayhem failing to clear their lines.

It saw the Mayhem Captain Karl Nicholson unable to get the puck cleanly and got in a tangle and was dispossessed by Phantoms Kieran O’Meara who them played in Coleman to put home at the near post with another well-taken goal and make it 2-1. Peterborough was well and truly having the bit between their teeth now in the game and saw the Phantoms having their purple patch in the game and making it count.

Manchester was seeing their playoffs evaporating before their very eyes and was mostly the Mayhem being architects of their own downfall in the game. Coleman had a great chance to put the game to bed with just under six and a half to play, but the Phantoms man lifted it too high and hit the plexiglass behind the net. 

After such a good performance by the home side for the majority of the game, it was seemingly now looking like their playoffs hopes was diminishing with every second that passed by. Karl Nicholson then skated around the visitors back line with the puck and one on one with Robin Gaze and the netminder thwarted the Mayhem man once more and kept the Phantoms ahead.

With the game having less than four minutes left to play in regulation and seeing the Mayhem needing to score again to tie it up, it had the Peterborough side desperately trying to clear away and defend their precious lead in the game and made for a tense end to the game. 

Desperation started to creep into the Manchester play and when Graham Wilson found himself behind the Phantoms goals he spotted the movement of Karl Nicholson and the captain fired into the back of the net for a 2-2 game with 2.53 left to go. 

The game effectively now became an overtime period with both sides playing slightly cautious in their approaches with the period coming to a close.  With 45 minutes unable to separate the sides, it meant that overtime was needed to find a winner and see who would take the extra point.

Play in the overtime period saw both sides cancelling the other one out and saw Karl Nicholson having the first chance to win the game as he went one on one with Rob Gaze and his shot struck the post and away. Ant Booth then had a half chance as the puck came to the Manchester man but the netminder was once again on top of the forwards to make the save.

Peterborough then went from defence into attack instantly, after Graham Wilson tried to keep the puck and managed to played it straight into the pass of the Phantoms player who went up ice and had Nicholson a the last man which brought an early rising shot and brought a great stretching save from Midghall. 

With playing entering the last minute of overtime, it saw Manchester clearing the zone and set Nicholson away once again and had Gaze making another important save to deny the hosts a winning goal. Manchester kept the puck in the Peterborough zone and when Graham Wilson skated towards the front of the net he collected the puck and slid it past the despairing Gaze for the overtime winner and fire the Mayhem to victory.

The goal sparked celebrations from his team mate and in the stands, with the goal confirming their playoff place next month and have them joining Kingston Kestrels and Cardiff Huskies on September 2nd and 3rd in the Playoffs weekend. 

MAYHEM v Phantoms – Match Highlights  Taken from: Phoben inc


Match Facts

Manchester Mayhem: Graham Wilson 2+1, Karl Nicholson 1+0, Anthony Booth 0+2, Rob Allen 0+2

Peterborough Phantoms: Matt Coleman 2+0, Kieran O’Meara 0+1, Scott Turner 0+1 

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Joy of Six For Nicholson As Mayhem Crush Champs

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 Peterborough Phantoms 3 – 6 Manchester Mayhem

A brilliant performance by a short-benched Manchester side saw the Mayhem pulling off a stunning 6-3 away victory at the home of the League Champions in the Peterborough Phantoms, courtesy of four-goals by Mayhem captain Karl Nicholson and a brace from Anthony Booth to help record their second win of the season and keep their faint title hopes alive.  It has been a common theme in all the games this season involving the Mayhem that the Manchester side have struggled to ice a full strength side, so with a depleted team, it saw the win almost most remarkable.

Manchester drafted in a couple of guest replacements with Kingston Kestrels Tony King and Simon Berry stepping in at short notice for the Mayhem, as it saw the visiting side able to ice an line. For the home side, it saw them at full strength and also welcomed back Ian Warner to their side for the clash.

The visitors controlled the play on and forced the Phantoms netminder Robin Gaze into action with some good stops to keep the game scoreless. Peterborough managed to force themselves back into the contest, but they couldn’t stop the away side taking the lead though a Karl Nicholson effort at 4.29 before doubling the lead later in the period at 11.34 to see the Mayhem moving 2-0 up.

Peterborough responded in the second half of the period, thanks to two late goals by Ian Warner and Scotty Turner as they pulled it back to 2-2 and on the balance of play Manchester will have felt aggrieved at not leading after the open stanza. Once again though it saw the Mayhem surrendering a lead and making it harder for themselves.

In the second period, it saw the home side coming out of the traps a lot quicker and building on their momentum from the back of the first with a go ahead goal at 21.16 from the stick of Darren Brown, to see the Phantoms scoring three unanswered goals to lead the game. Unfortunately for the home side, it saw their lead lasting less than two minutes, with the host’s goal providing a wake-up call for the Mayhem side and began to see the game turning in the favour of their opponents.

Firstly Anthony Booth registered his first goal of the game assisted by Karl Nicholson at 22.42, before then repeating the same feat towards the back of the period to and give the visitors a 4-3 lead after two periods of hockey. It also saw the period being one of physicality and some good passages of play coming from both sides as the game headed into the final period.

Play in the third saw a more evenly contested period between the two and saw a big collision involving Matt Coleman of the Peterborough Phantoms, which saw the forward staying down but was thankfully ok minutes later. Manchester then made it 5-3 with an effort from Karl Nicholson at 40.22 with Booth grabbing an assist on it. Soon it was followed up with the sixth goal by Nicholson and his fourth of the night, as he sealed the victory for the Mayhem.

The Netminder for the Mayhem in Dougy Hankinson, saw the Manchester goalie making some crucial stops late on from the Phantom forwards, with Hankinson preserving the three-goal lead for the visitors. Victory for the Mayhem saw the kind of performance that was missing from the Manchester side the week before, with the visitors showing quick movements and were able to establish a far more fluid passing and attacking side to their game than that of their previous fixture.

What the result means now is that the Mayhem are still in the hunt for the league title, but will need Manchester to win all their remaining fixtures to lift the trophy for the first time. The Mayhem will have to do it the hard way with Cardiff away in the near future as well as the return fixture with the Phantoms at Widnes next month. If that wasn’t difficult enough, then their next game is against the high flying Kingston Kestrels and will be playing the unbeaten league leaders home and away

Defeat for Manchester on the 15th of July will hand the title to the Hull-based outfit and will condemn Manchester to play for a runners up spot, though in hindsight considering the last twelve-months that would be a huge achievement.

Mayhem Handed A Royal Beating By Steelkings

SHEFFSheffield Steelkings  10 – 2  Manchester Mayhem    17155952_1499932596740759_1981299675865431597_n

 

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CREDIT: Peter Best Photography

 

In their third season of existence and after 19 matches played in the British Para Ice Hockey League, the Sheffield Steelkings could finally call themselves victors after a stunning 10-2 win over Roses rivals the Manchester Mayhem, thanks to a seven-goal haul for Gary Farmer. 

It was only a month ago when the sides played out a fiery game at the Altrincham Ice Rink and saw the meeting going the way of the Mayhem on that occasion, but you could that this rivalry was being to catch fire and look more like a competitive rivalry with a new look Sheffield side this year.

Sheffield who have long been the whipping boys of the Para Ice Hockey league since joining three seasons ago, it has saw them suffering hammers left, right and centre over the past couple of seasons and looked like they might never pick up a win. This season though has saw a change of fortune to the South Yorkshire club, so with a big crowd at Ice Sheffield and still buoyed by their recent performances so far this year, it saw the home side looking for their first win in their history.

Manchester came into the game short benched yet again, as they were missing three key players in their line-up, with Rob Allen out and the duo of Dean Lahan and Dominic Cosgrove. Coach for the Mayhem in Pete Hagan saw him needing to draft in Tony King from the Kingston Kestrels as a guest player and also handed a debut to Elizabeth Turner for the match.

From the drop of the puck it saw only one side truly in the contest at all, and that wasn’t the visiting Manchester side. With thirty-three seconds gone in the game, Gary Farmer put Sheffield ahead and that goal seemed to set the hosts up for the rest of the contest after such a early stage.  

Both teams enjoyed spells of possession with the puck and saw Pat Bailey having the visitors first shot on goal, but stand-in goalie Jake Oakley made a good stop between the pipes for the Steelkings after Sheffield had both regular goalies missing for the game. 

At the other end it saw Dougy Hankinson in the Mayhem net denying Mark Briggs for the home side, after he was forced to make a couple of saves from long range efforts by Gary Farmer. Sheffield then moved two nil ahead at 8.52 on the clock, with Gary Farmer shooting high on Hankinson in the Mayhem goal after a nice cross ice pass by Caroline Bonner saw the forward cutting in on goal and making it count.

Manchester then called a timeout to try re-assess the early damage done against them, as defensive they were caught slacking and offensively they were unable to generate much at all.

The visitors then found themselves with a golden chance to possibly cut the lead in half soon after, after a Karl Nicholson clearance saw the puck heading up ice and into the path of Anthony Booth who had Pat Bailey with him in support on a breakaway, but they were caught offside much to the relief of the home side.  Bailey then found himself serving a two minute penalty towards the back end of the first, with the Manchester man being called for teeing and saw the visiting bench not happy at all with the call by the officials.

The Mayhem seemed to play a dangerous game of passing it around their zone while a man light, and that method would could back to hurt them as Gary Farmer gained possession of the puck in their zone and fired high over the head of the netminder for a natural hat-trick at 14.17. 

Sheffield moved out to a 4-0 lead on 16.12, when Farmer was on target yet again for the Steelkings to bring up his fourth of the game and you did feel that the contest was over already so early into the second. Majority of the play was down the Mayhem end and had the visitors lacking in ideas and looked all at sea for a lot of the time too. 

Barry Grayson almost made it 5-0 for Sheffield soon after with a near post effort, but the puck pinged off the iron and away from danger. The home side didn’t need to wait too long to extend their lead further though, as a long range effort by Mark Briggs saw the puck going into the Mayhem net for a fifth goal to the Steelkings at 25.46 and that was game, set and match.

Manchester were looking anything but their normal selves in the contest, as the Mayhem players were making one poor decision after another and it was almost like the team had never played together before. When the visitors finally got behind the Steelkings defence and bearing down on goal it saw the horn sounding for an end to play in the second period, as the Mayhem looked like not just losing the contest but possibly being shutout by the hosts too.

In the final period the Steelkings hammered home their advantage with a further five goals to their name and they didn’t just beat their rivals, but they humiliate them as well. The Mayhem were architects of their own downfall at times and that was shown on the hosts sixth-goal, after Karl Nicholson was left to battle on his own against three Steelkings before Gary Farmer picked up the puck and burst away up ice and saw his initial shot saved but Barry Grayson was on hand to tuck home the rebound at 30.58.

At 32.20 it saw Farmer grabbing his fifth goal of the game and the hosts seventh of the match, as the forward skated up the left side and fired a low shot that somehow managed to get by the goalie and and make it 7-0. The first real showing of any threatening intent by Manchester brought them a goal at 34.43, when Karl Nicholson skated into the Sheffield zone and played a lovely pass towards Anthony Booth in the Steelkings zone and the Mayhem forward composed himself and fired past Jake Oakley in the home cage for a 7-1 game.

The visitors tried to build on that goal and saw them coming forward once more in attack through Pat Bailey and Anthony Booth as they found themselves on a 2-on-0 for Manchester, but Bailey overran the puck and that summed up the visitors play in the game. Sheffield continued to punish a hapless Manchester side and saw them scoring two quick goals from the stick of Gary Farmer, as he took his tally for the match up to a magnificent seven and was a case now of how many more goals would they rack up.

With the match all but sewn up now, it saw the Steelkings side turning on the style and a the home side netting one last goal in the game. Their 10th goal saw a breakaway from Gary Farmer who played a pass across goal intended for Barry Grayson who mis-controlled it, however the puck fell nicely to Mark Colquitt and the Sheffield man back- handed the puck in for the hosts and complete a miserable afternoon for the travelling Mayhem side.

Manchester did score a late consolation goal through Karl Nicholson at 40.59 and that saw the Mayhem having the last word in this contest game, after Booth returned the favour in kind to his teammate and the Mayhem captain put it home for a 10-2 score line. As the game entered the closing stages of the game, it saw the home side revelling in the clubs first ever win when the horn sounded and the joy on every Sheffield players face was there for all to see.

For Sheffield, the win was a culmination of hard work and graft to get their first points on the board and maiden win under their belts too after a wait of two and a bit years, as capitalising on errors by their opponents and some good play saw them worthy winners in the game. In the case of Manchester, it back to basics and look to regroup before their daunting trip down to Peterborough Phantoms next Sunday evening.


 

Mayhem come out on top of feisty Roses clash

17155952_1499932596740759_1981299675865431597_n    Manchester Mayhem  7 – 2  Sheffield Steelkings    SheffieldSteelKings

In the first meeting of the Roses games this season,  it saw the Manchester Mayhem holding the bragging rights after a 7-2 victory over the Sheffield Steelkings thanks to four goals by Anthony Booth, in what was a very feisty contest and at times bad tempered game at Altrincham. 

The previous meetings between the sides with Manchester playing under a different banner, had saw the Red Rose side holding a perfect record against their counterparts from Sheffield, with mostly one-sided games. Play was even and saw both teams having chances and looking threatening too.

A fairly fast-paced game saw both sides testing the respective netminders, but had neither side able to make the breakthrough. Manchester ended the period a man light, after Karl Nicholson was forced to serve a penalty for a delay of game call, ten seconds from the end of first.

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Sheffield’s Jake Oakley and Mayhem’s Simon Berry look on – Pic: 98 Yettii Photography

Second period saw a glut of goals forthcoming in the game finally, with firstly Sheffield’s Gary Farmer getting the opening goal of the contest at 16.10, as the forward took a pop from the blue line and saw the puck fly in over Steve Midghall in nets and go in off the goal post to give the Steelkings a 1-0 lead.

Manchester responded with two goals in the space of 30 seconds, as Karl Nicholson levelled the game up at 18.17 and then his teammate Anthony Booth sweeping home to make it 2-1 at 18.47 for the Mayhem and put the hosts in front.

Booth then made it 3-1 after Nicholson had played the puck off the side boards with pace and that the bounce falling nicely for his Mayhem line mate to chase down and then slot passed Bryan Hackworth in the Sheffield goals to increase their lead.

At 22.58 it saw Gary Farmer reducing the deficit to just one goal and also score his second of the game in the process, with the Steelkings man collecting the puck behind the Manchester net and then roofing home for a 3-2 game.

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Steve Midghall of Manchester keeps his eye on the puck – pic: All Sports Photography

The home side then moved 4-2 ahead thanks to a second goal by Karl Nicholson, but the contest was far from over, as Sheffield weren’t throwing in the towel quite yet. Tempers then began to simmer towards the end of the second period, when Nicholson continued to go to the net and crashed into the Sheffield goalie- which brought the ire of the visiting Steelkings side and a scrum developed.

From that point onwards the hitting became a bit more hard hitting you could say, with the Manchester man getting some extra attention from the Sheffield side from that point on.  In the final period it saw Anthony Booth completing his hat trick to make the game 5-2 in favour of the Mayhem and that goal killed off the away sides chances of getting back into it.

Less than a minute later Booth struck again to take his tally to four goal for the match and that was soon followed by guest player Simon Berry, as he rounded off the scoring with a power play goal for 7-2.

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Mayhem’s Four-goal Hero Anthony Booth Pic: 98 Yettii Photography

In the last minute of the game it saw Sheffield’s Barry Grayson collecting a Interference call along with a Abuse of official call as well, to rub salt into the wounds of the Steelkings side.

Sheffield in truth gave Manchester more than a scare in the game and the Steelkings just seemed to run out of steam late on, but they looked a like more motivated than ever this year than perhaps seasons gone by. 

Both sides over the next couple of day will be sore and know they were in a contest, after such a bruising encounter and that fact the sides meet again in Sheffield in just over three weeks time, it will certainly keep this rivalry fresh in the memory banks.