ICE HOCKEY: Storm Qualify For Quarter-Finals & Rumble The Capitals

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A couple of braces for Matt Caria and man of the match Matt Sisca helped the Manchester Storm snap their four-game losing streak as they defeated the in form Edinburgh Capitals at the Altrincham Ice rink to leapfrog above the Coventry Blaze prior to the sides meeting on Sunday evening.

Manchester with their short bench drafted in Scott McKenzie from the NIHL side Widnes Wild and also brought up Jared Dickinson from their sister team the Altrincham Aces for the encounter.

The home side took the lead after a quick break up ice saw Luke Salazar poking the puck into the path of Matt Sisca and his pass across ice saw Matt Caria back from suspension giving them an early goal after 33 seconds gone in the game.

Caria then turned from goal scorer to provider, with the Canadian dazzling with some quick hands before then backhanding across the face of goal for Paul Phillips to lift over Carsen Chubak for a 2-0 lead at 12.37.

Edinburgh was playing their third game in four nights and arguably the effects were starting to show on their side, while Manchester were the aggressors in the game and unlike Wednesday night against Sheffield, the Storm were able to getting that insurance marker to take a 2-0 lead going into the first break.

In the second period and there was a bit controversy over the Capitals first goal of the game, after Kyle Bigos drove to the net and looked to Interfere with Zane Kalemba in the Manchester goals as the tall American forward fell on top of him and that allowed Taylor Dickin to quickly collect the puck and jam the puck home at 23:43 with Storm players not happy with the goal standing.

Manchester dominated the opening two periods of play and despite the pressure that they were exerting on their opponents, they could only manage a one goal lead as they headed into the third period 2-1 up and were looking good for their lead too.

With the third under way some thoughts may have lingered around the rink of whether the Storm had a positive mentality going into the period, having watched the Altrincham side on many occasions this early on in the season giving up leads in the final period and snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in many games so far.

Those worries looked to have dispersed when Matt Sisca was first to a loose puck and saw his quick release finding the back of the net which saw him finally picking up a deserved goal in the game, after assisting on the two previous efforts to give the Storm a 3-1 lead at 44.59.

However the Capitals pulled one back straight away through Jacob Johnston effort less than a minute later at 45.27, as a shot from Taylor Dickin got blocked by a Storm defenceman and seen the puck come straight to Ryan Hayes who in turn passed to the free Johnston and he fired by the netminder at the near post to see a 3-2 hockey game.

With the game getting tense and both sides going close for different reasons, it saw the home side finally getting the fourth goal and decisive one at that, to kill off the Scottish side in the contest.

New signing Latvian Ricards Birzins set off Matt Sisca and Luke Salazar in attack and after Salazar’s little chip pass behind the Caps’ back line, it saw the forward collect the puck and Sisca slipped it home for a 4-2 score and all but gave the Storm victory in this Gardiner Conference match-up.

Edinburgh pulled the goalie for the extra attacker as they looked to try and find some way back in the contest, but after a few failed efforts by the hosts to score it was left to Matt Caria to score the empty net goal and see Storm moving off the bottom of the table with a 5-2 win as he shot it into the unguarded net and saw him finish off a good night’s work for him.

Luke Salazar celebrates the 3rd from the Storm : Photo courtesy of Lewis Cleveland



Sunday night saw the Storm travelling down the M6 to Coventry and where their meeting with the Blaze in the Challenge Cup became a winner takes all contest in reality with the victors advancing through to the Quarter-Finals of the Challenge Cup.  

Coventry had a good chunk of the play in the first period but the Storm and Zane Kalemba made sure to keep the Blaze out with some good blocks and defending. Ricards Birzins should have made it 1-0 for the visitors, but he managed to somehow lift the puck over the net and out of play with an open goal to aim at.

In the second and Manchester were making it difficult on themselves with the side unable to convert their chances that they were creating in the Blaze end and saw Sisca missing a sitter.

Eventually they finally managed to get the puck in the net through Matt Caria at 36:16 as the forward was quick to react to the loose puck on the Blaze doorstep and and it saw him putting in at close range.

Early in the third period the player-coach of the Storm in Omar Pacha fired in a second for his side as Manchester was looking comfortable in the game.  That was until Brett Robinson scored at 57:51 for the Blaze to set up a tense finale and had Coventry not yet giving up hope of tying the game.

With the home side having cutting the lead in half from pulling their goalie for the extra man and scoring, it then saw Luke Salazar skating on goal and neatly guide it home for an empty netter after Coventry tried to pull the same trick twice and failed.

The win for Manchester not only saw them picking up a 4 point weekend, with two in the league and two in the Challenge cup group. But it also saw them recording their first road win in 12 years since the Storm name came back to British Ice Hockey.


ICE HOCKEY: (ELITE) Manchester Edge Out Capitals In Shoot-Out




Manchester Storm and the Edinburgh Capitals split their weekend series with both sides winning their respective home games with a bruising and feisty couple of games in Altrincham and Murrayfield ice rinks respectively.  Saturday night saw the Storm welcoming the Capitals to Altrincham on the back of three successive defeats at the hands of Sheffield, Fife and Nottingham within the week.

Things got off to a terrible start for the home side with the visitors getting an early  powerplay opportunity and saw them scoring off it in a bizarre way in truth. It started from face off down in the Manchester zone and when the puck bounced off the back boards, Storm’s netminder Zane Kalemba thought he had pinned it up against the post and that saw Taylor Dickin poking at the puck and forcing it in at 1.05 into the game.

Edinburgh’s last visit to Altrincham saw them getting hammered 8-1 by Manchester and based on the opening minutes of play in this encounter, we weren’t going to see a repeat performance of that occurring this time round.  Storm couldn’t get much going in the way of attacks or plays early on, but you have to credit the Capitals side for thwarting the home forward.

There was a fair few stoppages during the game, after Edinburgh goalie Carsen Chubak seemed to have his nets coming off rather easily during the game and that was either coincidence or a touch of gamesmanship being played.  For those Manchester fans behind the net it was pretty certain that it was the latter of those two choices, with the natives angered by what they thought was happening.

Storm had a great chance to level it up and saw the nets coming off again and had the home side getting extremely frustrated by the net coming frequently.  Then from out of nowhere the game exploded with a huge flashpoint taking place at 14.56 gone,  when Storm’s David Phillips bumped slightly into the Capitals netminder with an opposing player and after the whistle went.

Kyle Bigos took exception to his goalie being ‘bumped’ and proceeded to jump Phillips from behind and throw punches at his opponent while he was face down on the ice. While the linesmen tried to break it up at the front of the net, it saw Bigos resisting officials and earned him a Match Penalty for his actions.

Phillips was lucky not to pick up a Match Penalty himself, after the GB International put the stick butt into the Edinburgh player when he was getting up and saw him getting just a 2 minute penalty.  Chubak pulled off some stunning saves to shut the door on the Storm forwards in the opening period, which saw the hosts ringing the pipework and doing everything possible but score in the first twenty minutes of play, and went into the break out shooting their opponents 21 to 7.

Moving to the second period of play and it saw more rubber at the Edinburgh net, but yet again Chubak responded well to every shot that he faced and the Capitals were thankful for his efforts.  Zane Kalemba for the Storm was stopping the puck down at the opposite end with the visitors having some good efforts and seen him repelling their efforts.

Defenceman for Manchester in Igor Bobcek, saw him picking up a 2+10 minute penalty for a check to the head down by the corner and seemed like a touch unlucky on the Slovakian, with the opposing player falling down and saw Bobcek catching him on the way down.

With the Storm fans increasingly thinking of it becoming ‘one of those game’ with the puck going everywhere but their visitors nets, it finally saw the home side getting on the board at 37.21 through a Matt Sisca goal, after some lovely stick handling skills by Vinny Scarsella, saw him playing a neat little pass towards goal and Sisca lifted it by Chubak for a tied game.

Manchester then took the lead at 41.20 thanks to some quick passing behind the nets with captain Matty Davies playing a little one-two with Patrik Valcak, and that saw Davies passing out at the side of the net for the incoming Vinny Scarsella to quickly fire in at the front of the net for a 2-1 score on the powerplay.

The home side looked solid and didn’t seem to be in any danger it seemed from the Scottish club as the clock ticked down to under ten minutes left to play.  Then at 51-23 Everett Sheen played the puck out of the zone to Kyle Flemington and his quick release pass up the wing set David Rutherford away and his quick release from a tight angle saw him making it all square at 2-2, to get the ‘Caps’ back in the game.

Storm were clearly the team with more threat in them and saw the visitors almost hanging on at the end as they tended to try and pick the hosts off with their attacks. The buzzer sounded for the end of regulation and meant that overtime was needed and saw both sides going close, with the netminder’s coming up huge to keep the other team out and see the game heading to the lottery of the shootout.

Trevor Gerling and Matt Sisca took the opening penalties for the sides and saw both drawing a blank. Ryan Hayes then saw his shot saved by Kalemba and then Luke Salazar netted the winning shot for the hosts as it turned out, with the American making a nice move and backhanding it high over Carsen Chubak for a 1-0 lead.  David Rutherford then knew he needed to score to keep Edinburgh alive and it saw Storm’s netminder coming up trumps yet  again, with the netminder plucking it out of the air and gave his side the two points in a shootout victory.