This past weekend saw the debut of the new boys to the British Para Ice Hockey League in the form of the Manchester Mayhem, as they opened up their league program against the Cardiff Huskies and were hammered 8-3 with seven of the eight Cardiff goals being scored by Tyler Christopher.
Manchester went into the contest missing two key players for their home season opener as both Dominic Cosgrove and talisman Rob Allen were ruled out with injuries and that meant that the home side were two forwards light in the line up, but did draft in a guest in Kingston’s Simon Berry to beef up the bench a tiny bit.
It saw a pretty even contest to begin with between the two teams, that despite the visitors looking far more dangerous than the home side in attack. Manchester needed their netminder Steve Midghall to come up big at times with a couple of good saves to shut the door on Cardiff’s forwards.
The visitors were very threatening when going forward, and that sustained pressure brought them a fortuitous opener through Tyler Christopher as his shot somehow managed to squirm through the defences of Midghall, and into the net at 12.11 to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead.
Less than a minute later and it saw Cardiff doubling their lead with Ty Christopher on target once again, as the forward put home for his second of the game and put the visitors firmly in charge. Pat Bailey then fired in a quick response for the home side to reduce the deficit in half and see the Mayhem trail 2-1 after the opening period of play.
Second period was completely dominated by a strong Cardiff side, as the Huskies netted four goals in the period to put the home side to the sword. In truth it wasn’t as much of a one-sided game as it played out, and was mostly competitive with a few hits coming in from both sides.
Ty Christopher grabbed his hat trick goal five minutes into the period with a carbon copy of his second goal, as he gave Cardiff a 3-1 lead early on. Manchester then came back at their opponents once more through Anthony Booth, when the forward had his shot go in at the near post and past Russell Wiley in the Huskies goal for a 3-2 game.
Cardiff then went up a gear or two after the Mayhem’s second goal, and that saw the visitors restoring their two goal lead with Christopher scoring yet again and he added a fourth for the Husks’. Steve Midghall was facing a lot of rubber in the period and was forced to make some very nice saves and important ones too.
Soon after it was 5-2 for Cardiff with Paul Furbur firing in a fifth goal for the visitors and had them making the most of their chances when they came. In the 28th minute of play it saw Christopher making it 6-2 for the Huskies and making it a match to forget for the home side.
In the final period it saw Cardiff increasing their lead through that man again Ty Christopher, with the forward destroying the Mayhem on his own and putting a further two more goals past the netminder for an 8-2 scoreline with five minutes left to go in the game.
The hosts had the final say on the game through a Anthony Booth consolation goal for the Mayhem, as the Manchester defence was left to count the cost of defensive errors and allow Tyler Christopher in particular to make them pay.
Cardiff’s powerful line up was just too strong for the makeshift Manchester side, but it was a deserved victory for the Welsh side who look a real force this season in the British Para Ice Hockey League.
Manchester will look to rebound this upcoming Saturday night at home again, as the they welcome the Sheffield Steelkings to Altrincham in the War of the Roses clash and have both the Mayhem and Steelkings looking to pick up their maiden wins in the league.
All Photography taken from: 98 Yetiiis Photography.
Team Great Britain last week headed out to Tomakomai, Japan for the 2016 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey Championships – Pool B, and was up against in their group the Czech Republic, hosts Japan and Slovakia. Prior to the championships taking place Great Britain were all confident of bringing back hopefully a medal of whatever colour. They also went into the tournament with a brand new head coach in the form of Peterborough Phantoms man Ian Offers, as he undertook the new role.
Tuesday 29th of November saw Team GB opening the tournament up against the Czech Republic and had a nightmare start against the Czechs going down hard 12-0 on Matchday 1. As a whole it was far from a lack of effort by the GB side, but the quickness and beautiful passing that their opponents showed it made it extremely different to stop and break down. A brace of goals by Zdenek Krupicka and Michal Geier in the first period put the Czechs in a commanding position and pretty much took the game away from the Brits after one period.
In the second period it saw the Czechs moving further in front, when a quick release by Geier saw him completing his hat-trick for 5-0 and in truth was an impressive team display by their opposition. The quickness of the Czech side had GB in all-sorts of trouble throughout, and a pass out from the side of the net by Zdenek Safranek allowed Pavel Dolezal to sweep home past the helpless Rob Gaze for a sixth.
Two quick goals by Safranek and then by Zdenek Krupicka saw the latter firing in his hat trick goal for an 8-0 game before Michal Grier then cut through the British defence towards the end of the period to score the Czech’s 9th goal. Despite being out shot 33-4 in the game, it didn’t see Team GB heads dropping and in the final period when a rampant Czech Republic side scored three goals.
Strikes by Grier again for his fifth of the game were soon followed by Krupicka who scored his fourth goal and then David Palat rounded off the big win near the end with the twelve. It was a disappointing result for Ian Offer’s side, but they hoped to improve against Japan the next day so there was no time to mull over it.
The game with hosts Japan was played in the evening and gave Team GB some extra time to prepare for their next opponents. That said things didn’t go to plan in the opening six minutes of the game, after they found themselves 3-0 down after Japanese Captain Satoru Sudo put the home side ahead with just under three minutes of play gone two strikes by forward Masaharu Kumagai gave the home side the advantage.
A better period saw Japan restricted to just one goal in the second period, with that man again Kumagai scoring his hat trick goal to make it a 4-0 after 30 minutes of play. In the third it saw GB unable to keep the Japanese down for much longer and saw two more goals hitting the GB net with Kumagai scoring his fifth of the game and was almost like a one-man scoring machine.
Great Britain went into their last group game against Slovakia knowing that they could land an early blow ahead of their Bronze medal game against the same opposition a couple days later. Ian Warner had a half chance for GB, after some neat build up saw the British forward coming down the left side and managed get a shot off on Miroslav Pastucha but the goalie made the save. Gary Farmer then broke free of the defence minutes later, only to be denied by the goalie again.
Slovakia then scored in the final minute of the opening period through Milos Vecerek, after Slovakian Captain Peter Stit played a little pass back behind the nets for Vecerek, who was given the easy task of putting the puck into the unguarded net after he caught the defence and goalie out by some quick thinking.
Rob Gaze made some good stops to keep the game at 1-0 and needed the help of his forwards to help prevent him from having to make these important saves. The game from then on was pretty even and saw at the start of the second Bryan Hackworth being introduced to the game with the Sheffield Steelkings goalie replacing Rob Gaze for the rest of the game.
Great Britain found themselves unable to find an equaliser and saw them scoreless in their group game, but they would have a chance for revenge against the Slovakian’s in the Bronze Medal game.
Two days after the sides met in their tight group game, this around around it saw Slovakia being much more stronger than the previous game encounter. The Slovaks got a lucky bounce their way for the opening goal when a pass by Slavomir Ferencik towards the front of net was put on target by Ales Raus, with Rob Gaze making the save and having the rebound tapped home by Miroslav Stasak for the lead.
Erik Fojtik then doubled the Slovakian’s lead on the powerplay in last minute of play in the first, when a lovely weighted pass by Marian Ligda saw him playing far side for the incoming Fojtik to stick handle into position and put it over the already committed keeper for 2-0.
British player Jon LeGalloudec then suffered an bad injury, when he lost his edge on his sledge and crashed hard into the boards and was forced to see the referee stop the game and leave the game as a process. Marian Ligda then made it three on a delayed penalty call against Darren Brown and that saw a fourth being added by Martin Joppa.
In the final period it Britain’s medal chances all but gone now as Martin Joppa scored his second goal of the game to make it 5-0 for Slovakia. One thing that you saw in every game in the tournament and was evident, was that the GB players gave everything they could to win in every game having been shutout in all their games to date saw them finally rewarded with a goal.
It came from a clearance in the Slovakian zone that saw Matt Clarkson gaining control of the puck and then having the Kingston Kestrels man released a ripper of a shot that beat Eduard Lepacek for a 5-1 game. With the last few seconds of the contest ticking down, it brought the curtain down not just on the tournament but also for GB forward Gary Farmer, who retired from International Sledge Hockey after 15 years in the sport and will be a huge miss for the British line-up.
This past Sunday afternoon saw the curtain come down on the regular season for the Manchester Phoenix Sledge Hockey team, as they faced off against the Sheffield Steelkings at the Fylde Coast Ice Arena and rounded off their league campaign with a comfortable 10-1 win over their friends from over the Pennines.
Phoenix were still missing their star netminder in Steve Midghall in their lineup, after the netminder suffered a recurrence of his shoulder injury. There was some good for the home side in the injury front, as they were boosted by the returning Pat Bailey to the lineup as the forward had been out through injury and was making his first Sledge game of the season. For the visitors they were missing Barry Grayson and David Hall, with the latter sidelined after an injury he sustained in a match against Kingston earlier in the season.
The game wasn’t even 90 seconds old when Karl Nicholson fired the Phoenix ahead with a shot from the point that found its way in at 1:24 gone in the game, with Rob Allen credited with an assist. Sheffield were under the cosh from the off and pretty much were in the whole game in truth, as Manchester pinned their opponents in their own zone and saw GB netminder Bryan Hackworth having to make a good save from Rob Allen to deny him getting on the board with a low glove save.
Some more good play by the home side and especially their passing, saw the Phoenix getting behind the Steelkings defences and were only thwarted by Bryan Hackworth. Karl Nicholson then doubled the lead for Manchester as well as taking his goal tally, with a goal after a scramble infront of the Sheffield zone saw the goalie trying to get the puck covered up, but Nicholson was on hand to put home into an empty net at 5:28 and had Allen grabbing his second assist in the game.
2-0 then quickly became 3-0 soon after for the hosts, when Nicholson played a backhanded pass across the face of goal for Pat Bailey, but his shot was blocked and Rob Allen was alert enough to put in the net for his first of the game and saw the home side firmly in control. Sheffield seemed unable to even get out of their zone and that was hurting them a lot in the opening period. Hackworth again was called upon by his side to shut the door on their opponents, as wave after wave of Manchester attacks came at them and saw Anthony Booth shooting from a tight angle that was spilled by the goalie but was able to cover up.
Sheffield then got awarded a power play opportunity, when Graham Wilson was called for T-Boning in the corner after a crunching hit from the defenseman saw the Steelkings having the man advantage. The visitors struggled to create anything in the way of chances in their powerplay, but it did see the Phoenix netting a short-handed effort through Pat Bailey, after Karl Nicholson had dashed up ice and saw a neat lay off for his team mate Bailey who joined in the play late to push it home for 4-0 at 10.07.
A couple of big hits coming in from both sets of players saw the puck becoming free near the Sheffield goals and Nicholson tried to lift it over Hackworth, but the goalie was far too clever for the forward and knew exactly what he was trying to do and saw him collecting the puck in the goalies mitt with a great save. Manchester then had a goal washed out before the break at 14:40, when the referee signalled no-goal after bodies were strewn across the goal crease and the puck had gone in, but there wasn’t too many complaints coming from the home side on it being chalked off.
Play started off in the second period pretty scrappy, with Sheffield trying to upset the rhythm of the Phoenix players and saw them cutting out some passes by the hosts. Graham Wilson then swapped defense to attack, as he almost saw scored on a break after he receiving a great pass from his own zone and saw the defenseman 1 on 1 with the goalie, but Hackworth came out on top. Bryan was then forced into a stunning save from the resulting play, after a shot was deflected up in the air and heading on goal but the Steelkings goalie had to reach back to claim it and stop a freak goal from going in.
A brilliant team move brought about the 5th goal for the Phoenix, as some tic-tac-toe play saw Manchester carving Sheffield wide open after they had committed too many players up ice and that allowed Nicholson to make a pass to the back post for Pat Bailey and he put home at 22:08. Phoenix head coach Pete Hagan then made a goalie change with Darren Pomfrett replacing Dougy Hankinson in between the pipes and had Pomfrett not afraid to express his feelings to his teammates down at the far end. Graham Wilson had another chance go begging for him at the front of the net, this time after Dominic Cosgrove had played a nice back door pass out for him and Hackworth once again made a point blank save to deny him.
Sheffield then suffered a poor call from the match official with just over 5 minutes left to play in the second, after Jake Oakley had outpaced Dominic Cosgrove at center ice and had only Karl Nicholson to beat and was turning him inside out and out, before the referee blew play dead to bring attention to the net in which his opinion was off. What made it worse was play had continued on for at least another 10-15 seconds before he decided to blow up and had the visiting side highly unimpressed with the decision.
Nicholson was architect for the sixth goal for the home team, after the GB man skated through the Sheffield defence with ease and played an inch perfect pass for Anthony Booth to get onto and give the Phoenix goal difference a boost. A further strike before the end of the period by Pat Bailey made it 7-0 and it looked to be a case of whether they would hit double figures or not.
Manchester were the only side in the game to be fair, but Sheffield didn’t want to hit for double figures again in the league this season and even slowly began to step it up a bit more and began to cause a couple of problems. Hackworth once more was in the thick of the action, after he made a stop on Rob Allen after a great pass by Graham Wilson saw the rebound falling to Karl Nicholson, but the Manchester man stopped.
As mentioned previously, Sheffield gave it a good go in third as saw having nothing to lose but pride, but a pass up Ice by Rachel Paget saw Jake Oakley taking the puck with him up Ice and into the Phoenix zone, before he played a little pass towards David Scvill and his shot managed to find it’s way under the glove of Pomfrett and into the back of the net as the visitors got on the scoreboard at 36:51.
With time ticking down on the game, it saw Booth making it 8-1 for Phoenix with a tight angled shot at 39:43 and then with less than two minutes to play the third, it saw Nicholson taking the brunt of a heavy collision from Rachel Paget by the boards and saw him sitting out the rest of the game. Sheffield went close again to a goal, but the puck was cleared as far as Pat Bailey who went coast to coast with his effort and that saw him firing high over the shoulder of Bryan Hackworth and making it 9-1 at 44:05.
From the restart it saw Anthony Booth breaking into the Steelkings zone and firing his shot passed the goalie for Phoenix’s 10th goal of the game at 44:31, and saw the game mercifully for Sheffield finish. You can never question the effort of the Steelkings and after their goal you could see it did energise them for a small period of time.
Match awards for player for the game went to the Number 16’s on both sides, as Rachel Paget of Sheffield and Manchester’s Rob Allen both took the glass paperweights and beers. The win will be boost to the Phoenix who will meet the Kingston Kestrels in the playoffs and hold an unbeaten record against them so far this season, with a 2-2 draw and a 4-0 win both at the Hull Ice Arena
The Manchester Phoenix home roadshow season took them to the confines of the Fylde Coast Ice Arena just outside of Blackpool for their penultimate game of the season, as they took to the Third ‘home’ Ice of the season. Their opponents were the Cardiff Huskies and a team having a good season by all accounts and chasing the league title still, as they still stand a chance of denying Peterborough a fourth successive championship victory.The Huskies were bolstered by a couple of Great British Internationals that had made the move from Peterborough last season in Tyler Christopher and Jon Le Gallodec, as they swapped East Anglia to Welsh Valleys.
Both teams started brightly in the match and saw some physical play too boot, as the opening minutes were quick paced. Cardiff’s Ty Christopher saw him testing the debutant between the pipes for the Phoenix in Darren Pomfrett, as the Manchester goalie made a big glove save to stop the visitors from taking an early lead in the contest.Pomfrett was then called upon once again for the home side, after a deflected shot came back off defenceman Graham Wilson and saw the netminder making a quick reaction save to keep it scoreless still.
Cardiff were the aggressors early on in the game and saw Christopher having another chance, when the forward was first to a loose puck with Wilson and went on 1on1 with Pomfrett but it was the goalie with an important low glove save to deny the GB man. Manchester who were playing brilliantly defensively, then saw them taking a lead very much against the run of play as Karl Nicholson chased down a loose puck in his own zone and saw the Phoenix captain fending off two Huskies players before roofing the puck high passed Alex Weaver at 11:10. Anthony Booth then doubled the lead at 14:40 for the home side, when Rob Allen’s long clearing pass along the boards was collected by Booth and his effort was partly dealt with by the Cardiff goalie, but the shot just had enough pace on it to see the puck going in to see the Phoenix 2 up at the break.
A slight wardrobe malfunction of sorts before the second period saw Phoenix goalie Darren Pomfrett having an issue with his pads and was replaced by Doug Hankinson until he got sorted. Cardiff came out strong at the start of the second period and brought an early save out of Hankinson as the visitors were dominating play early on. Manchester then wasted a great opportunity to make it 3-0 when Nicholson skated into the Huskies zone and found Booth, but the forward mis-hit his shot but manage to regather it back and have his second effort saved fantastically by Alex Weaver from point blank range.
It seemed just a matter of time before the Welsh side would eventually net after all their pressure on the hosts, so when Ty Christopher gained the zone and skated behind the Manchester net, he spotted the movement of Lloyd Woodyatt and played a quick pass for him to tap in for 2-1 at 22:15. Goals for Cardiff were much like buses, as when one turned up a second one came right after. It saw a breakout pass evading most of the Phoenix players and that helped set up a 2 on 1 for the visitors as Woodyatt and Christopher once again linked up and saw the latter scoring for Cardiff, with Hankinson left hung out to dry by his side at 22:50.
With the Manchester coach Pete Hagan clearly not impressed with his defence for their second goal they conceded, it saw him sending Pomfrett back out in the game after his pads issue had been sorted. The change saw their fortunes turning a bit with Rob Allen stopping a clearance from leaving the Cardiff zone, and then fired a shot on goal but was comfortable taken by the goalies glove. Nicholson went desperately close for the hosts with a long range effort, as he then tried to score from the rebound and was blocked by Tyler Christopher as play quickly went down the other end and saw a point blank save from Pomfrett to see both teams having chances.
The Manchester coach was clearly unhappy with the go-ahead goal that gave the Huskies the lead, as coach Hagan clearly felt that it was offside in the lead up. It all came from a Cardiff break and some poor mishandling from the Phoenix side that led to a 2 on 1 for the away side, with Andy Swinfen firing an effort and getting blocked but was quick to convert from the rebound and put the South Wales side 3-2 up.
Manchester players start inquest to 2nd period
The Manchester players during the second break will have had time to reflect on some sloppy plays that led to them conceding a couple of the goals and had a period to make amends. However a freak goal at the start of the final period saw 4th goal being shipped by Phoenix. Play restarted with Lloyd Woodyatt winning the puck and playing it back to Paul Furber, who then just tried a long range shot on goal and saw the puck going straight in and will be one goal that Pomfrett will certainly want back in the Manchester nets.
Karl Nicholson then found himself in the Cardiff zone and managed to thread a ‘eye of the needle’ pass between two Cardiff players and in towards the path of 3 three Manchester forwards who completely missed the pass, as the Phoenix players were almost stunned that the pass made it towards them in the first place. Tyler Christopher then drove into the Phoenix zone with speed and useful stickhandling that saw him bamboozle a couple of Manchester players, but when the forward went to shoot he was stopped by Nicholson right in the nick of time. With a few minutes left to play in the game, it saw a timeout taken by Manchester as they looked to plan one last push in the game. Manchester tried to find a goal to set up a tense finale, but the visitors held on for three league points and closed the gap on Peterborough.
MAN of The Match : Rob Allen for Manchester , Ty Christopher for Cardiff
After the game Coach Hagan said “We played well for the most part, but few lapses in concentration let us down, we played so well at times and really gave them a scare. But it just wasn’t to be, and Cardiff showed why they are fighting for the title with Peterborough.
We have one last league game against Sheffield on Sunday 17th July here at Fylde, so we aim to finish on a winning note.
On the bright side it’s great to get another player making his debut, and he really did well. So a few things to work on in practice, and as long as we learn from games like this, sometimes these losses can be a good thing in the long run.
Manchester Phoenix Sledge Hockey team recorded one of their most stunning victories in their history, with a 4-0 win at the Hull Ice Arena against one of the powerhouses of British Sledge Hockey in the Kingston Kestrels. Just 14 days earlier the two sides had faced off at the same venue when Manchester was forced to play their ‘home game’ in Hull and saw an entertaining 2-2 draw on that occasion.
Roll on a fortnight later and Kingston were a team in form, as they had beaten their title rivals the Peterborough Phantoms 4-0 in their opponents back yard. Meanwhile, the Phoenix were smarting from a heavy loss down in South Wales against Cardiff and so were hoping to try and get their season back on track. Manchester went into the contest still lacking bodies and had only five out-skaters and was still missing their first choice netminder in Steve Midghall, who was still not fit and so Doug Hankinson was back between the pipes.
The game was played in tricky conditions, with fog causing problems on the ice and played it’s part throughout which caused some errors on both sides. Both teams managed to get three shots on target in the opening period, but Manchester had a 100% success rate with converting their chances as they lead 3-0 at the break. The first goal came in the 8th minute to break the deadlock, after Captain Karl Nicholson made it 1-0 with the assist going to Rob Allen. With just over a minute of the restart, it saw Dominic Cosgrove firing in a one- time shot for 2-0 lead Karl Nicholson and Anthony Booth assisting.
Kingston almost hit back in the game, but the defensive duo of Nicholson and Graham Wilson saw them sweeping up the loose pucks and also had Doug Hankinson in fine form to keep the puck out of the net when called upon. With just over 2 minutes left on the period it saw Rob Allen taking a great pass from Anthony Booth and he slotted home to make it 3-0 and have the away side on top.
At the start of the second, it saw the Phoenix in penalty trouble early after Booth took a T-bone penalty and gave the hosts a power play. With Kingston unable to make the most of their extra man advantage, it saw the Phoenix defence showing that they were able to limit the scoring chances of their opponents. Manchester then had a power play of their own and saw the Kingston netminder down at the other end in Houliston, pulling off some amazing saves to keep the visitors out. Phoenix out-shot their hosts in the second period, with Houliston facing 9 shots and Gibson who replaced him midway through the period, saving just the one.
Manchester was then awarded another opportunity on the power play, this time after a T-bone penalty was given against Fitzgerald and that saw the Phoenix piling the pressure on the Kestrels back line and saw the home side snuffing out the visitors chances. With Kingston getting back to even strength, it then saw Anthony Booth firing in goal number 4 for the visiting side and put the game pretty much to bed. The Kestrels upped their physical play a bit more, as they looked to wear down the Phoenix and find a way to breaching the visitors defences. Sadly for the home team, they were unable to make any head way and so saw victory for the short-benched Manchester Phoenix and finally end the Indian sign that Kestrels had over in the league.
After the game Coach Peter Hagan was full of praise for the team “Our last game didn’t really go how we would have liked in a lot of areas, but credit to the team, they got to work, they held themselves accountable and a few things were discussed to sort things out. They wanted to put things right and really came to play today, everyone was focussed. Kingston are always hard to play so we are delighted with the result, and it shows how competitive the league is, with no easy games. A great result, but we will be working hard ready to go for our next game and try finish the season as well as we can.”
Phoenix face the Cardiff Huskies in a return fixture at the Flyde Ice Rink this upcoming Saturday Evening as the Phoenix hoping to pick up as many points as possibly with the season drawing to a close.
Sunday Afternoon saw the Kingston Kestrels and the Manchester Phoenix playing out an entertaining game at the Hull Ice Arena after the Phoenix were forced to move their home game to Hull, due to some Ice time problems with the North Wales venue. Manchester much like they have done all season found them travelling further afield to play their home game as this time around it was to be played at the home of their opponents, and in fairness didn’t make that much of a different to the result.
Manchester were still missing long term absentees in their team like Dean Lahan and Pat Bailey, while first choice goalie Steve Midghall was still sidelined with an injury and so that handed a second start in net for Dougy Hankinson. With the Phoenix being down on numbers this season, it means having bodies is important for them in the league and having a spare man again in Steve Bradley helping out was a godsend. Prior to the game facing off, there was a small ceremony held to congratulate the brilliant work of Kingston Kestrels man Simon Berry, after he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award for services to disabled sports and was given a warm applause for his fantastic efforts in the area too.
As the puck was dropped to start the game, it was pretty much even between the two sides early on and even had some half chances falling the way for both teams with not much forthcoming in the attacking steaks. The ‘Visitors’ in Kingston nearly took the lead with 5 minutes gone, after Matt Woolias found himself 1-on-1 with Doug Hankinson in the Phoenix net and when you would put your money on the Kingston man to score, it was Hankinson who made a great stop to deny him. This fired up the Kestrels and saw them upping their attacking play for the next few minutes in the game, but Manchester defended very well to keep the Hull side out. Kingston then thought they had took lead minutes later, when a shot that just went over the blue line was fired back into the Manchester zone and saw the puck nestle in the corner of Hankinson’s cage, but the referee had immediately waved it off for an offside call. This felt like a little wake up call to the Phoenix team, and had them at from the restart having a great chance when Anthony Booth went 1 on 1 with their goalie, but much like Woolias earlier on in the period it saw the goalie coming out on top.
Kingston took the lead in the match soon after though, when play in their own end was cleared away and saw the puck bouncing of the netminder and into the path of the oncoming Matt Woolias, who was quick as a flash to tuck home the rebound and make it a 1-0 score for the Kestrels with just under 7 minutes to play in the period. Manchester will have felt a bit hard done by over the opener, but they didn’t let it affect them at all and they set about trying to get back on level terms. Anthony Booth once again came close for the Phoenix, as only a partial glove save was just enough to stop the GB man from tying the game up for the home side. The last of the action of the first period was played down in the Manchester end and saw a quick release on the blue line from a Kestrels man that brought out a great stop by Hankinson as he tried to make up for his early error.
Second period saw both teams creating chances and yet nothing really coming of them, as the Phoenix came out hard looking for a goal to get them back in the contest. Manchester’s sustained pressure saw them given a power play opportunity as Matt Clarkson made a hit on Booth without the puck, to see the Kestrels man serving a two minute call for Interference. Kingston did brilliantly to cut out any attempted efforts the Phoenix carved out for themselves and saw them successfully killing off the penalty of Clarkson. The Hull side buoyed by their penalty kill, then saw them exerting some pressure of their own on the adopted home side for the day and could only watch as Hankinson made a stick save to deny them adding their lead and keeping his side in the game. Manchester then got back on level terms through a Karl Nicholson goal, when the GB International collected a puck in the Kingston zone after some nice passing by his Phoenix team-mate and Nicholson saw his shot just sneaking in past the goalie for a 1-1 score. From the restart it saw the Kestrels roaring right back at their opponents and looking to get back in front, but Hankinson and his team mates were doing a sterling job in front of him to stop all efforts of retaking the lead and saw us going into the final period all level.
Kingston saw a great chance go begging early on in the third period, as the away team found themselves on a 2 on 0 and looked for all the world that it would result in a goal for the Kestrels, but somehow Doug Hankinson managed to pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat and make a double save to which his second save saw him tipping the puck over his own bar. However it seemed like the goalies were having their own little battle in the midst of the game, and was almost like Ian Houliston at the other end was thinking ‘anything you can do, I do better’ as he made a double save himself then off Booth from Manchester as he showed his talents between the pipes too. Matt Woolias then scored his second of the game to put the Kestrels back in front at 2-1, when the forward picked his spot to find the only area not covered by the goalie with 11 minutes left to play. Both teams were looking for goals, but both with different objectives as for Kingston they wanted to get a one goal cushion and have some breathing space, while the Phoenix wanted to get back level and try and get a point.
Manchester did indeed get back on level terms with their opponents and did have a touch of fortunate about it too. Karl Nicholson saw him skating around the Kestrels zone looking to make a pass for a team mate in space and when he tried to make a pass out front it saw the puck getting deflected in and finding the back of the net for a ‘Desmond’ 2-2 score line and make it all to play for with 8 minutes remaining on the clock. Both teams had chances late on to take the game, Booth saw him robbed by Houliston once again and also saw the Kestrels held back by the Phoenix defence and goal tending too late on. With 30 seconds left to go in the game, it saw Karl Nicholson taking a puck to the ribs and was clearly a sore one and had the Phoenix talisman in some distress. For the final stages though, it saw Manchester holding firm and thwarting any last gasp hopes that the Kingston side harboured and so when the horn sounded it brought an end to a thoroughly entertaining game and give Manchester a huge point against a very tough side in the Kestrels.
Manchester Phoenix bounced back from their 7-1 defeat to the Peterborough Phantoms last weekend in their league opener with a 8-0 win in South Yorkshire, as the Manchester side gave a ‘Royal beating’ so to speak to the Sheffield Steelkings at Ice Sheffield on Sunday afternoon. Phoenix duo Anthony Booth and Rob Allen both bagged hat trick’s in the game as Manchester got their season back on track with a big victory in the War of the Roses on the Sledge.
Play was almost predominantly played inside the Sheffield zone throughout the contest as Phoenix were only denied by the home side’s stubborn defending that nearly saw them recording a scoreless period. Rob Allen came close to opening scoring when his tip-in on goal from a Graham Wilson shot was stopped by the goalie at the Steelkings goal and that set out how the game would go. Karl Nicholson struck the crossbar minutes later for the visitors, as the puck beat Bryan Hackworth in the Sheffield goals all ends up but didn’t find the twine. Manchester went even more closer after Nicholson again found space to shoot from, but Hackworth made a stunning glove save above his head and was truly one for the cameras robbing his GB team-mate. Sheffield were frustrating the Phoenix side as they had almost all the possession in the first but it looked like the hosts would hold out for the period. Sadly for them they were unable to do so and Karl Nicholson weaved his way through the Steelkings back line before playing a little pass across goal for Anthony Booth on the far side as the Phoenix man ghosted in to fire past the despairing efforts of Bryan Hackworth for a deserved 1-0 lead.
As the horn sounded to bring a close on the first period, it looked like the floodgates may well open for the visitors for the remainder of the game, and in truth it did, but it was from far and away from a walkover as the Steelkings were resolute in their defensive side. Manchester doubled their lead 35 seconds into the middle stanza, when Rob Allen saw his shot just squirmed underneath Bryan Hackworth for the insurance marker at 15:35 and was a unlucky on the goalie as he looked to have done everything right. The visitors though kept up the pressure on the home side and was keeping the puck deep inside the Sheffield zone as much as they could do, but Sheffield still holding firm and were unfortunately struggling to create anything in the way of a possible attack in the entire game. Karl Nicholson scored to make it 3-0 for the Phoenix at 19:30 as assists went to Dominic Cosgrove and Anthony Booth, as the Great Britain International put home from close range after capitalising on a defensive error and that looked to put the game out of sight for the hosts.
Despite being up by three goals, one thing you couldn’t say is that Sheffield were rolling over for their opponents as that would be extremely harsh to say. Sheffield are still a team in learning their way around the BSHL (British Sledge Hockey League) and so these are tough times for the Steelkings but also learning experiences for them going forward and in very harsh lessons to boot. One thing that has improved this season is their defending compared to last year, after Sheffield leaked an alarming amount in their debut season but this year they have come on leaps and bounds and have become a tougher side to break down. As mentioned their defensive side was at the fore again and important blocks were made from the Steelkings players as Rachel Paget made a good block from Phoenix man at the front of the net to stop a certain goal for the Phoenix, then Jake Oakley made a last gasp stop on the goal line and despite the Sheffield man knowing little off it, the netminder had the presence of mind to covering up for the whistle.
Rob Allen made it 4-0 with an unassisted effort at 22:43, and the chances were now being taken by the Phoenix but Bryan Hackworth made a great stop from Allen minutes later when the Manchester forward looked like he was on course to score his third goal, but the goalie made himself big to deny him. With 4:11 left to go in the second period it saw two goals going in for the visitors, with Booth netting his second of the game at 25:14 and then 26 seconds later through Karl Nicholson who made it 6-0 with less than nineteen seconds left in the period. Sheffield will feel they could have done better in the period at the back, but with a tough opponent and a lot of the team not being able to train for the past six weeks, it did really hamper the home side and it evident on passages of play.
In the final period of play Manchester took their foot of the gas a bit but they still had far too much for their opponents as they out-shot their opponents on the other side of the Pennines 43-0. Bryan Hackworth was frequency called upon again in the period and the Steelkings tried to deal with Nicholson and saw his shot stopped by the goalie as the hosts began to really tire. Rob Allen then completed his hat trick in the game for a seventh Phoenix goal at 39:17, as the visitors went in search of more goals as they looked toward getting a healthy goal difference on the table. Dominic Cosgrove who put in a good performance for the Phoenix side saw him trying his heart out to claim a goal, but he just always seemed in the wrong place at the wrong time. Manchester once again brought a save out of Hackworth and saw the netminder clearly shattered by this point facing so much rubber in the game and tried to drag the mini breaks out to recover. As we came towards the end of the contest it saw the away side striking the crossbar once again, that before Anthony Booth completing his own hat trick with Allen assisting and making it 8-0 at 44:54 to round off a road win for the visitors and keep their unbeaten run against Sheffield going.
With the hosts struggling for offensive plays and some members lacking practice, the Steelkings have shown glimpses that they are getting there and even if it is a bit of a slow burner for them they are coming along and it the future is bright. For Manchester a dominating performance by the whole side with included the return of Steve Bradley to the line up saw the Phoenix having the luxury of a spare player to their tiny squad and that helped them out on the bigger ice pad too. Phoenix now hope to build on this win as they make the long journey down South to Peterborough and face the league champions and hope to avoid a repeat 7-1 defeat against the Phantoms next weekend.
Man of the Match:
Sheffield Steelkings : Caroline Bonner , Manchester Phoenix : Karl Nicholson