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.

ICE HOCKEY: Salazar & Storm hands out ‘CAPITAL’ punishment to Edinburgh

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Manchester Storm thundered their way to the top of the Elite League table Sunday night, with a stunning 8-1 victory over the Edinburgh Capitals at the Altrincham ice dome. The Storm were looking to bounce back from their opening league match in 13 years, after the Cardiff Devils welcomed the Storm back with a thumping 5-1 win.

Storm welcomed the Edinburgh Capitals to Altrincham and saw the home side come out strong in the first period with the forwards testing the Capitals netminder in Carsen Chubak, and saw Chubak proving to be difficult to break down at first.

Mathew Paton then broke away for the home side and with a one on one saw the Storm man being robbed by Chubak. Mathew Sisca then went close for the Storm with his effort, but once again the visiting netminder made another good stop from the home forwards.

Edinburgh had a few attacks on the Storm net, but they came up against an in-form Zane Kalemba in between the pipes for Manchester.  Manchester then took the lead in the 11th minute of the game through Matt Sisca, as the forward forced home the puck with Vinny Scarsella and Matty Davies getting assists.

The Capitals then stepped up their physical play and had the Storm very disciplined in not retaliating back to some of the heavy hits and some plays that strayed over the line.  Minutes later and another chance for the Storm went begging, after Mathew Sisca got by the last line of defence with a dash up ice and had his shot deflect off the crossbar and go high into the netting.

Storm went into the first intermission a goal up, but should have been out of sight in all honesty and had it not been for Chubak they would have been. Edinburgh then against the run of play tied the game up at 25.59, after the Caps had just killed off a penalty and saw Kyle Bigos rejoining the play on a 3 on 1 counter attack. Paul Zanette then skated down the left wing and with one defenceman back in support, Zanette played a pass across goal and was lifted over Kalemba by Trevor Gering for the Edinburgh goal.

Storm then retook the lead minutes later, when Riley Emmerson was in the box serving a Hooking call and the power play saw Grant Toulmin making a pass from behind the net to the side of the net for Luke Salazar to put home for a 2-1 score.

Goal 3 for the Storm came courtesy of the ‘blueline’, as Mathew Sisca and Matty Davies both combined for Vinny Scarsella to finish off a beautifully constructed move.  Slovakian defenseman Igor Bobcek then made it 4-1 just before the break, after Matt Paton sent a pass into the path of Bobcek and his shot went right through Chubak into the Caps goals.

In the third period, the home side fired 4 goals into the Capitals net, with Luke Salazar ripping a one timer from the blue line to see the Storm 5-1 to the good. Tempers frayed a bit when a hit off Callum Boyd on Gal Koran, drew Omar Pacha over to vent his displeasure and saw a scrum develop over the incident.

Mathew Sisca made it 6-1 at 54.51, after some very precise and lovely puck movement  saw David Philips and Matty Davies combine to find Luke Salazar, and his pass towards the front of the net was diverted in by Sisca for a good team goal.

The Storm rumbled on with Grant Toulmin making it 7-1 with a neat little flick past Carsen Chubak for another goal, then Luke Salazar completed his hat trick at 57.02 to make it 8-1 with Paul Phillips and Patrick Valcak picking up the assists on the goal.

That wasn’t quite the end of the action though, as Storm Player-Coach Omar Pacha and Riley Emmerson had a disagreement and saw both picking up penalties on the play, with Emmerson deciding to release his frustration out on the Storm man and had both picking up five minutes Major penalties for Fighting and also cross checking and slashing calls respectively.

With their crushing victory over the Capitals, it means the Storm occupy top spot in the Elite League after the first weekend of the season and will be pleasing for the ‘new’ franchise to have the early bragging rights in the league. Manchester coach Omar Pacha will certainly know that his