Saturday afternoon saw a controversial and stormy game played out between the league and playoff champions at the Hull Arena, with both Great British Internationals Matt Clarkson and Karl Nicholson bagging a brace each for their respective sides in a 2-2 draw.
Kingston inflicted a huge 9-1 home loss on the Mayhem in the opening league fixture of the season, although, Manchester remain the only side in the league to have scored past the Kestrels this year in their previous six games.
Things didn’t get off to the best of starts for the visitors, as Matt Clarkson put the hosts ahead inside the opening minute of play, as thirty-four seconds had been played in the game. Manchester was forced to weather the storm of the home side, as the Kestrels went in search of a second and needed a couple of stops from their netminder Darren Pomfret.
The Mayhem were under the cosh for most of the first period and had their coach Pete Hagan not pleased with what he was seeing from his side. As the period grew, Manchester managed to regroup and hold firm at the back, while also creeping their way back into the contest.
In the second period, Manchester tied things up thanks to their captain Karl Nicholson, after a rare assist from their goaltender saw the puck heading up ice and saw the Mayhem forward outpacing Fitzgerald of the Kestrels to then put the puck by Ian Houliston for a 1-1 game.
Later in the period, it saw Nicholson getting sent crashing into the boards by a member of the home side and had the forward down on the ice in clear distress. The GB man managed to block out the pain carry on in the contest. Anthony Booth was then called for a holding penalty against him with minutes left in the second and saw the hosts restoring the lead once again, with Matt Clarkson added his second on the power play to make it 2-1.
As the game headed to the third, it began to see the game simmering and in danger or boiling over. Those predictions would come true, as Manchester wasn’t happy with the sledge of Matt Clarkson, as they deemed it to be broken and therefore illegal equipment. With the match officials discussing the problem and having neither side happy, it saw Clarkson begrudgingly forced off-the-ice until his sledge was fixed.
With tempers fraying on both sides, it saw the Mayhem scoring the equalising goal with a bit of a helping hand from their opponents. After the Kestrels won the faceoff deep in the Manchester zone, it saw the pass back overhit and put Anthony Booth through for a one on one with the Kingston goalie and saw Houliston making the save, however, the puck fell loose and saw a Kestrels man running into his goalie and taking him out of the play which then allowed Nicholson to put home for a 2-2 score.
The remaining ten minutes of play saw both teams having chances at either end, but neither could find a way past either goalie. Kingston hit the pipe late on and the best chance fell in the final ten seconds to Karl Nicholson, who found himself one on one with a chance to win the game for the Mayhem, but Houliston again denied the Mayhem from recording a famous victory and saw it end all square.
That wasn’t the end of the action though, as, on the sound of the horn, the Kestrels side weren’t happy with Graham Wilson and saw one of their players taking a shot at him from behind and saw a little scrum with both teams and marred what was a very entertaining and physical game of hockey.
Early Playoff chirping started between the teams and could see the sides renewing acquaintances once again in the final of the Playoffs that takes place in Widnes over the weekend of September 29th-30th.
Manchester POTM: 22. Peggy Assinck
Kingston POTM: 10. Simon Berry