Clinical Huskies Storm to Victory

huskiesCARDIFF HUSKIES 8 – 3 MANCHESTER MAYHEM OJZq-Vh6_400x400

Cardiff executed a brilliant game plan to send their opponents back home empty handed, as the Manchester Mayhem continued to be at a loss of finding an answer in a bid to cure their travel sickness in the league this season – as the Huskies forwards fired the home side to an 8-3 victory at the I.A.W in South Wales, thanks to a hat-trick by Ty Christopher, a brace from Paul Furber and further efforts from Josh Campbell and Russ Willey.

The hosts started the much brighter of the two to start with – with Paul Furber putting the Huskies ahead with a goal just five minutes of play and saw Manchester really struggling to contain the Cardiff attackers for much of the opening period of play. Mayhem needed their goaltender in Dougy Hankinson to make some good stops as he kept his side in it.

Late in the first, it saw Manchester being denied a chance on goal with a clear passage on goal – as the referee blew play dead due to a borderline offside call that went against the visitors and had the Mayhem side nor too happy with the decision.

Minutes later, Cardiff’s Tyler Christopher doubled the hosts lead just prior to the end of the period, as the Huskies deservedly led heading into the break. In the second, it saw the Mayhem coming out much the better than they did in the first, but their finishing left a lot to be desired and saw shots flying high and wide of the Huskies net, while up at the other end they were still going in, as Paul Furber grabbed his second of the game for a 3-0 lead.

For most of the middle stanza, the Mayhem gave as good as they got, and enjoyed long spells of possession with the puck – but they failed to test Gareth Rees in the Cardiff goals. Manchester then conjured up a goal right out of nothing through Rob Allen at 19.22, as the Manchester forward threw the puck on goal from the right-hand boards’ on the blue line and saw it nestling in the back of the net.

That goal seemed to spark the side to live, and soon after it was a one-goal game, with Karl Nicholson then putting the puck home for a 3-2 game and saw the visitors right back in the game.

Dean Lahan then put Cardiff on the power play after he served a delay of game call and the home side capitalised with Paul Furber grabbing his second goal of the game with a rising shot to beat Hankinson over his head to restore the two-goal lead at 4-2. 

Early in the third, Cardiff increased their lead to 5-2, thanks to a Tyler Christopher effort as he grabbed his second to see the Huskies flexing their goal-scoring muscles a bit more. Josh Campbell made it six with a close-range effort minutes later and effectively at that point put the game out of reach.

Rob Allen pulled a goal back for the Mayhem – but it was scant consolation, as the forward netted from an extremely tight angle to make it 6-3. There was a case to say that the scoreline was a tad harsh on the Mayhem, as they had looked equal to their opponents for the best part of the contest and could arguably say were better at times too, but it seemed to come down to their inability to find the net – something, that Cardiff had no trouble with at all.

In the dying minutes of the game, Manchester capitulated and led to Tyler Christopher used his stickhandling skills to great effect to make it 7-3 and completing his hat-trick, while Russ Willey put the exclamation point on the win and putting the final nail in the away sides’ coffin with an eighth goal to round off the contest. 

As the final whistle blew to signal the end of the contest, it saw the Mayhem coach in Pete Hagan seething as he headed to the changing room and was clearly not pleased with his side. What made the loss worse for Manchester, was that it would have given them a great chance to put more distance between themselves and Cardiff, ahead of their next two games with the bottom of the table Sheffield should they take both games. 

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Para Hockey: Nicholson Treble Helps Mayhem In Victory

Manchester Mayhem  3 – 1 Cardiff Huskies 

The Manchester Mayhem finally broke their duck in this season, thanks to a Karl Nicholson hat-trick that saw the Mayhem taking a 3-1 win over the Cardiff Huskies at Altrincham’s Planet Ice rink, in what was a tough and physical encounter between the sides. 

Manchester welcomed back two players who missed out last season due to injuries in forwards Pat Bailey and Dom Cosgrove, plus they also gave a debut to Canadian International Peggy Assinck for the clash with the Huskies. Both teams entered the fixture on the back of heavy losses to leaders Kingston and a draw away at Peterborough. 

Play in the first was dominated by the goalies, with Cardiff’s Gareth Rees and Manchester’s Dougy Hankinson both making some superb saves to deny the forwards with a string of brilliant stops. Ty Christopher went very close for the Huskies inside the opening minute of play with a shot that rang the pipework. 

Christopher was denied twice by Hankinson from a double-save soon after, as the netminder kept the Cardiff attacker at bay. A chance then fell to Pat Bailey who got behind the Huskies defence but couldn’t beat the goalie and saw Rees making the initial stop and then saw a wayward shot missing the target.

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Mayhem’s Anthony Booth fending off Hannah Farmer of the Huskies    Credit – 98 Yetiiis Photography

The big-hitting started with a huge collision with Bailey lining up Cardiff’s Josh Campbell to put the attacker off at the last minute as the home side got caught out while on a power play. Both teams were creating chances but just weren’t able to find an end product and see a scoreless first.

Play in the second was very scrappy – with both defences smothering the others attacks for much of the period, that was until Karl Nicholson grabbed the opening goal of the game with a quick release that beat the goalie to put the Mayhem one up at 22.23. 

Later on in the period, it saw the feistiness starting to come out more between the two sides following Pat Bailey and Gareth Rees exchanging words following the Manchester man going after a loose puck that was still loose under the netminders’ glove and saw the Cardiff goalie none too happy with the whacks he was receiving.

Nicholson had a great chance to put the home side two up after he broke away up ice on a breakaway, but it saw his shot saved with the helmet of netminder Rees and made an awful crack that brought a whistle. Manchester did eventually double their lead at 27.27 – as a second goal in the period for Karl Nicholson saw the Mayhem forward shooting from range and had it looping up over the goalie for 2-0.

As the game headed to the third and final period, it saw two-goal forward in Karl Nicholson going close again with a blast around the defence and in on goal but Rees came up big yet again to stop him. Cardiff then pulled a goal back to make it 2-1 through Ty Christopher, as the forward picked up the puck at neutral ice and bamboozled the Manchester defence before firing home. 

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Rob Allen keeping his eyes on the puck                    Credit –  98 Yetiiis Photography

That goal gave the Huskies a type of second wind in the game and forced the tempo on the home side and drew panic within the Mayhem ranks for the next few minutes, and was seriously under the cosh. Manchester’s coach Pete Hagan then called a timeout to try and steady the ship and settle his side down after the Huskies scored, as the hosts seemed to have taken their foot off the gas.

Those words seemed to have an immediate effect on the Mayhem and had the hosts regaining some control of the game and saw their new signing Peggy Assinck, shoring up the back line for Manchester, plus she wasn’t shy in shouting instructions from the penalty box having collected a delay of game call.

With Cardiff still pushing for a tying goal in the contest – it saw the home side managing to kill the game off thanks to Karl Nicholson completing his hat-trick with a shot that took a deflection off Andrew Swinfen and end up in the net to seal victory for Mayhem and took the wind out of the Welsh sides’ sails with over a minute an a half left.

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Cardiff coach Andy Brown spoke on the performance of his side, by saying:

Personally, I think the side played well in parts, we controlled the game in certain areas and our rookies got a good chunk of ice time. We missed a few key players and as a result, some of our linking play went awol, but on the whole, I think the result was fair and Manchester took their chances”.

When asked if the missed chances cost them, he answered; “Yes, our missed chances did prove costly, we seemed to break through a lot and get to the red zone, but couldn’t seem to get the puck between the pipes. We were shooting from all angles in the attacking zone but could never seem to actually score. Thus we will work on this for our next game Vs Sheffield.

For Manchester,  they recorded their first win of the season to see them leapfrogging Cardiff into the third spot and after the game, Mayhem coach Pete Hagan seemed happy with his teams’ performance;

“It was a tough game and the last two games we have had has given us a bit of bad luck….and I think it showed in our play. Hopefully, this will boost the boy’s confidence and hopefully, it can kick-start our season”  

He also touched on the welcomed returns of Pat Bailey and Dom Cosgrove, saying; “I think they got into it, a little rusty, but hopefully that’s blown the cobwebs off and can get back in it. As the game wore on, they got more into it”.

On the performance of new signing Peggy Assnick, he was full of praise, saying; “Peggy helped stabilise the D, her experience really showed and hopefully, we get to see a few more games out of her during the season”.

 

 

Women’s Para Ice Hockey World Cup – update

The Women’s Para Ice Hockey World Cup for 2018 in Ostrava, Czech Republic is rapidly drawing to a close and after eighteen games of Para Ice hockey action, it’s time to take a look back at the tournament so far. At the time of this blog, the Final itself and the two semi-finals will not have taken place yet.

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Day one of the ‘Elite Division’ saw an absolute cracker of a contest to get the World Cup off to a bang, as the North American neighbours in Team Canada and the United States played out a seven-goal thriller, with the nation from the ‘Stars and Stripes’ pipping their foes north of the border to a 4-3 win.

It saw the Canadians lead 2-1 after the opening period of play, but the Americans reversed that scoreline in the second stanza to take a 4-2 advantage into the third period. Canada’s Nandini Sharma made it a tense finale with 51.3 seconds left in the game, but the US managed to hold onto the win and draw first blood in the tournament.

Canada didn’t have time to dwell on the loss, as they played the second of their two-games of the day against Team Europe and saw the side from the ‘Great White North’ firing on all cylinders with a thumping 13-0 thrashing to split their opening group games. Christina Picton led the way for the Canadians with a hat trick, while Raphaelle Tousignant, Emilie Robitaille and Jessica Matassa all collected a brace of goals in the rout.

Day two saw the US playing twice, as following their 5-0 in their first game against the European side, it then saw them facing off again against the Canadians and had a different outcome this time around to the previous day. A lone goal was by Canada’s Raphaelle Tousignant in the second period was the difference between the two and saw a split in the Round Robin series between the two hockey powerhouses.

On day three, Europe suffered losses in both their games against the US and Canada. It didn’t see the European side getting off to the best of starts in either game to be honest, as the first match saw the Americans taking an early four-goal lead with less than eight minutes played and had the side looking to stem the flow of goals being shipped. Much to the relief of the European side, they managed to see the rest of the first period out and all of second too and had them entering the final period trailing by those four early goals. However, the US made sure that they weren’t going to be blanked for another period of play and they managed to score a fifth for a 5-0 win.

Much like in their previous game at the start of the day against the United States, Europe once again found themselves behind the eight-ball pretty early on, as they fell four goals behind yet again in the first period. The Canadians managed to find the back of the net once in the second stanza to lead 5-0 going into the third and the final period. Canada found the twine four more times to win 9-0 and finished top of the standings with a goal difference of plus 22.

Saturday will see a deciding game between Team USA and Team Canada in the World Cup final, as it will also be a rematch of four years ago when the Americans lifted the first-ever World Cup thanks to a devastating performance by Kelsey DiClaudio who netted four times to beat the Canadians in their own backyard.

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This tournament has also presented a chance for players to grow their skills alongside the Main Event of the Women’s Elite Division, as the ‘Developmental Division’ has been introduced at this World Cup and has been an entertaining part to this tournament as a whole.

As said previously, this year’s World Cup features over ten countries taking part in this festival of Women’s Para Ice Hockey with eleven countries alone being involved in the Development Division.

 

Great Britain was able to ice two sides in this tournament, with d the GB team dubbed ‘GB Fangs’ fall to the Norwegians 5-0 in their opening game. GB Claws’ suffering a similar fate to what the ‘Fangs’ did, with a Finnish/Swedish mixed side handing the British side a 4-2 loss.

Meanwhile, the hosts were one of three joint sides in competition as had the Czechs joining forces with Croatia and in their first outing played out a 1-1 with the Netherlands.

The remaining game of the day saw the three mixed side, as a team made up of Australians and Scottish players recorded not only a 2-0 win but registered a shutout against France in the process.

 

Day two saw Norway and Holland playing out a thrilling game with the Norwegians edging the Dutch 4-3 to maintain their 100% start to the tournament. 

For the Great British duo, it saw both ‘Claws’ & ‘Fangs’ recording 2-1 victories in their respective matches. As the Fangs defeated the hosts and also saw the ‘GB Claws’ side beating the Aussies and Scottish side by the same score. 

Another side with an unbeaten record coming in the second day was the mix of players from Finland and Sweden, as the Nordic brotherhood racked up a comprehensive 9-0 win over France to remain perfect.

 

On the third day, Norway won 3-1 over the Croatia/Czech Republic team to move on to 6pts, while GB Fang’s shutout the Netherlands 1-0 to and trail Norway by two points in the standings.

The Great Britain Claws picked up a 2-1 victory over France, while the Nordic duo of Team Finland/Sweden remain with an unblemished record of three wins from three as they beat the Australia/Scotland squad 5-1.

Schedule:

GOLD MEDAL GAME / World Cup Final:

Canada v USA


 

Women’s World Cup Para Ice Hockey is coming

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This week sees the start of the second Women’s Para Ice Hockey World Cup taking place in Ostrava, Czech Republic, as this competition will boast more than 10 countries participating in this event. The organisers and players as well, have spoken off trying to expand the competition and in doing so highlight the Women’s game to which it is has attracted some attention from around the world as part of the Agitos Foundation. The Agitos Foundation is the leading global organisation that helps to changes lives and make everything contributing to an inclusive society for all with Para Sports being a key element in that plan.

The inaugural competition took place back in 2014 at Brampton, Ontario, Canada and on that occasion, it saw the United States of America being crowned the first World Cup winners of the tournament, as they beat the Canadians 5-1 in the final. Back then it saw the World Cup being played between three sides, with USA, Canada and European side.

At this year’s event, it sees the competition having two separate divisions taking place over the course of the six-day event. There is the Women’s Elite division, which is the same three sides as last time, with the best players from the US, Canada and Europe facing off against each other twice in a round robin style group, and where each side will have one day where they play two games. 

Meanwhile, the other side of things, sees a ‘Women’s Development Division’ running alongside the ‘Elite division’ of the competition with 8 teams battling it out. The hope of the development division it to give those participating a chance to learn and gain experience for future events and expand the game globally and the World Cup as a whole moving forward in the future. 

Countries taking part are Australia, France, Netherlands, Scotland, Norway and also two sides that have joint countries in the lineup – with the home nation in the Czechs teaming up with Croatia, while Finland and Sweden make up a Scandinavian duo. The remaining two sides in the division are from Great Britain and split into two teams with GB Fangs and GB Claws. 

On Saturday there will be an All-Star game taking place, with those players involved in the development division set up getting some ice time and also see the tournament culminate in two semifinals with the losers playing a Bronze medal game, while the winners advance to the Gold Medal game. 

 

Manchester hammered on opening night

Manchester Mayhem  1 – 9  Kingston Kestrels

Sunday evening saw the opening league game of the British Para Ice Hockey League taking place, with a clash of the champions from last year as the playoff champions the Manchester Mayhem welcomed the league champions in the Kingston Kestrels to Planet Ice Widnes and saw a nightmare game for the home side.

Last September saw the Mayhem inflicting the only defeat upon Kingston in the whole campaign last season, following a 3-2 win over the men from Hull in the playoff semi-finals and saw their opponents clearly not forgetting about it either. It saw the Kestrels dishing out a big bowl of revenge served Ice cold in the form of a crushing 9-1 win, with Kingston’s Matt Clarkson netting a magnificent seven in the game. 

In truth though, the game was not as one-sided as perhaps the scoreline suggests it was, as the contest was pretty even. Arguably, Manchester was shading the puck possession but they just weren’t able to make much with it at all and struggled to generate hardly anything by the way of shots. With the home side unable to make any inroads on their opponents early doors, that in turn allowed Kingston to take the lead through a long-range goal by Matt Clarkson, as the GB man just simply threw the puck on net and it somehow managed to get by Dougy Hankinson in the Manchester goals for a 1-0 lead with 5-53 gone.

 

Manchester finally got behind enemy lines soon after, when a pass off the side boards by Karl Nicholson caught the Kestrels defence flat footed and looked to have put Anthony Booth through on goal, but the Kestrels goalie in Ian Houliston read the play and came out of his crease to get the whistle. The visitors then doubled their lead thanks to a Matt Woollias strike at 10-42, when an attempted clearance in the Kingston zone was knocked down by Dean Lahan but sadly the puck fell perfectly to Woollias who went up ice to fire it in and open up a two-goal advantage. 

Just before the first period drew to a close it saw Matt Clarkson grabbing his second of the game for 3-0 with 11.3 seconds on the clock. The goals that the Mayhem was conceding was basic defensive errors and were made to pay for such a lack of defending.

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Woollias makes it 2-0 with a neat finish

In the early stages of the second period, it saw another unlucky bounce going against the hosts, as this time Graham Wilson tried to clear his lines but saw the puck being kept inside the Manchester zone due to the lineman stopping the clearance and have the puck ricocheting straight out towards Matt Woollias who then bided his time before teammate Matt Clarkson skated into the zone and unleashed a shot that went high into the net and put the Kestrels 4-0 up, with Clarkson bagging himself a hattrick. 

Manchester managed to create a couple of half chances themselves, but their attacks lacked any real threat in front of goal. When the Mayhem did get into decent positions it saw them coming up against a brick wall in Ian Houliston who was brilliant throughout in goal for the league champions.

Four-nil then became five-nil at 19-32 after a puck was flipped high into the Mayhem zone and led to a bit of panic, which in turn led to a collision involving two Manchester players in their own zone and Matt Woollias was quick to capitalise on the advantage and despite the efforts of Karl Nicholson to block the effort, instead it saw the shot deflecting off Nicholson’s stick to deceive Dougy Hankinson in the Mayhem goals. 

Mayhem’s captain Karl Nicholson nearly broke the Kestrels defences with 9.09 left to play in the second, but the Great Britain man could only fire his shot straight at the keeper. Minutes later, it saw Simon Berry firing the puck in deep and saw the puck taking a bad bounce off Dean Lahan sledge and came out to Matt Woollias but on this occasion it saw Hankinson was equal to the forward and made the save.

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Anthony Booth denied by Kingston’s Ian Houliston

In the third and final period of play, it saw the home side coming out the quickest and looked to pile the pressure on from the off. Anthony Booth kickstarted a mini-wave of attacks for the Mayhem, as firstly he broke clear after dispossessing a Kingston defence at centre ice but he was unable to convert – then literally seconds later it saw a 3 on 0 advantage for the hosts, but Rob Allen could only shoot tamely at goal and had teammate Karl Nicholson extremely bemused.

Almost a minute later from that incident, the Mayhem finally managed to get themselves on the board as Anthony Booth smashed home from in front of goal to make it 5-1 with 12.31 remaining. Manchester carved out another chance for themselves soon after, but once again Houliston came to the rescue of the opposition to shut them out. 

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Anthony Booth celebrates goal the Mayhem

Matt Clarkson then took his tally in the match to four at 35-58, after more poor defending allowed Clarkson to freely shoot on goal and have the forward putting home the rebound. Thirty-five seconds later, and it was a replay of the last goal, as Clarkson once again picked up the puck and saw him heading up ice saw his first shot saved but wasn’t be denied a second time and he made it 7-1.

Two further strikes by Matt Clarkson saw the Kestrels finishing with nine goals in the game, while the Mayhem tried to avoid being hit for double figures in their opening game. Manchester will now take this gap in the league to regroup and hit back in their next game in a couple of weeks time where they travel down the A1 South to face the Peterborough Phantoms on May 12th.


 

 

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 at 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 three separate locations, Deeside in North Wales, Hull, where they were the home side against…Hull! And their remaining two games were played out of 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 was able to see the season out and even posted three wins on the year, with their most notable result being a 4-0 win in Hull over the hometown Kingston Kestrels, as the stand-out result of the season.

However, after the season ended, it saw the sledge side waiting for the outcome of their senior side in the Phoenix, and their proposed plans of a new Ice Rink to be built in Central Manchester with the Phoenix in mind. As it was, it saw those hopes being nothing more than pipe dreams and saw 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 also left the sledge team in a quandary over what to do. With no home, no team name with the Phoenix folding, it saw a very bleak future indeed for the remaining members of the club and 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, with it getting a name change and keeping up with the rest of the world too and so 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, 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, what they would be called and needed 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, it saw the remaining players at the club all buying into the new club set up and having the side raring to go for the start of the season. I asked the Head Coach, what his early thoughts were for his side before the opening puck-drop on the year and his reply was;

“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 after they had finally sorted Ice time with both Altrincham and Widnes for the forthcoming season – and so their league opener was 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 much by the loss of forwards Rob Allen and Dominic Cosgrove. Cosgrove had been ruled out effectively before the season had even got underway and seen a skeleton line up that was one made up of one-line and a spare.

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

Playing wise, 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 brought them within one at 2-1, as he became the first player to score in the Mayhem’s history.

Anthony Booth then 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. However, Manchester’s lack of bodies and fast-breaking opponents saw the home side tiring and allowed the Huskies to capitalise and put five unanswered goals past the Mayhem. Another goal by Booth was merely a consolation goal and saw them falling 8-3 to Cardiff.

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

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

Sheffield was boosted with the signing of former Great Britain Para Hockey Legend Gary Farmer in their ranks for the first half of the season, as they had someone in the lineup with a constant threat and his experience made the Steelkings a far tougher nut to crack than previous.

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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 and Bryan Hackworth of the Steelkings were tested equally in the opening period of play, as both produced a stunning display to see a scoreless first period, as both sides didn’t give an inch to their opponent.

Sheffield then took an 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, with Mayhem captain Karl Nicholson drawing the scores level and then Anthony Booth giving the hosts a 2-1 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 pulled a goal back for Sheffield, to cut the deficit to one at the midway point. Karl Nicholson made it 4-2 late on in the 2nd, before the hard-hitting started to pick up on both sides, and see signs of a rivalry starting to brew between the two youngest teams in the league.

Anthony Booth 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 guest player Simon Berry, who was drafted in from the Kingston Kestrels as the Mayhem recorded their first-ever win.

 

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

After recording their maiden win over Sheffield a week earlier, the sides renewed acquaintances over the hills in South Yorkshire as the Steelkings extracted revenge and then some following their 6-2 loss in Altrincham.

A packed crowd at Ice Sheffield saw the Steelkings – who had never won a game in their history prior to this meeting – going into the second ‘War of the Roses’ match extremely pumped up. They were due to a win in truth, 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 ahead of Steve Midghall for the Mayhem, as Hankinson played the road games for Manchester and saw Steve Midghall playing the home games.

The game, however, proved to be a disaster from the opening minute and never really got any better for Manchester in all honesty. Firstly, Gary Farmer put the visitors to the sword and netted himself a first-period hat-trick for the Steelkings, with the visitors in deep, deep trouble early doors.

Head Coach Pete Hagan had been forced into drafting in some help due to a lack of bodies, with Rob Allen, Dom Cosgrove and now Dean Laham all missing from the side,  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 and a massacre.

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 for those wearing the Purple shirts, as everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.

In a way though, the loss proved to be a mid-season kick up the backside for the Mayhem and turning point in the Mayhem’s season.

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

Manchester then travelled down to Peterborough to face a side that under their previous guise, had done terribly against the Phantoms – however, that was then and this is now. The Mayhem showed the home side what a small band of players could do and turned in one of their best performance of the season to secure a huge result. 

Karl Nicholson got the opener in the game, as he struck twice to have the Manchester side 2-0 up in the first-period before goals by Ian Warner and Scotty Turner, saw the home side hit back to make it 2-2.

Darren Brown then added a third for the Phantoms, as they led 3-2. 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 a 6-3 scoreline and have the visiting side picking up a rare road win and their first one of the season.

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

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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 a chance to book their play-off place with a victory. 

In 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 clash against Peterborough, with Rob Allen and Dean Laham returning to the lineup for the Mayhem for the first time this season and was able to ice their strongest side possible.

From the off, it saw the home side battering down the Phantoms goal and having Robin Gaze in the Peterborough goals needing to be alert and also produced one of, if not, the best netminding performance of the year. 

The hosts took the lead with 2.20 left in the opening period, and it came from an unlikely source in defenceman Graham Wilson as the d-man has found himself free at the front of the crease and was on hand to steer it home for a 1-0 lead and score the maiden 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 would continue to dominate the game but just couldn’t add a second to kill the game off. In the third, it saw the home side making tired plays and losing their concentration more and more and was foregoing their game plan.

Peterborough who had been virtually camped in their own half of the ice for the majority of the game, then saw the Phantoms hitting them with a sucker punch eight minutes from time, courtesy of Matt Coleman netting and putting the cat amongst the pigeons to tie the game.

That goal had sparked the Phantoms into life and was not what the home side wanted to happen. Kieran O’Meara then capitalised on a mistaking at the back by the home side and saw his shot going past Midghall for a 2-1 lead and it looked to have stuck the dagger in the Mayhem hearts late on. 

Manchester was now playing desperate hockey and threw caution to the wind and saw their efforts finally bringing them a reward, as captain Karl Nicholson tied the game with 2.53 left to go in the contest and see a tie after three periods of hockey. 

It saw the contest heading to overtime and saw chances for both sides with the hosts ringing the post and crossbar and also seeing Gaze pulling off some incredible saves to keep Peterborough in the game. 

With the game seemingly heading to a penalty shoot-out in the final minute of overtime, it saw Manchester grabbing a game-winner and had Graham Wilson as the hero of the moment yet again, as he managed to slip the puck past the despairing Gaze for an overtime winner and book their place into the playoffs.

The aftermath sparked wild celebrations amongst the Mayhem contingent on the ice and on the bench, as they qualified for the playoffs in their first ever year in existence and there was no getting away with how much of a huge achievement this was for the club moving forward.

 

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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 and set up a third-successive game against each other, but this time it came in the Semi-Finals at playoffs weekend 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 in Kingston 3-2 on their home patch, but they followed it up the next day against Cardiff with a 5-0 shutout. It capped an incredible ending to the season for a side that really, shouldn’t have been playing and now were crowned play-off champions for 2017.

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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