LONDON, UK – The regular season nears its end, Wightlink and Invicta battle for second place and the latest NIHL player is pictured with a celebrity.
The aftermath of Chelmsford’s title win brought a reaction from all three clubs that had realistically been competing for the trophy.
In Essex it was of course all smiles for Player Coach Gary Clarke, who is now counting down the days until he retires.
“We’ve got two out of two and we’re concentrating on winning the other two, we’ve got the cup final the weekend after next and then it’s straight into the play-offs” said Clarke in an interview with the Essex Chronicle.
“We’ve been the play-off champions for the last three years and we want to make it four”
“We had a very good team last year and we managed to win the league and the play-offs. We didn’t want to stand still, we wanted to improve and we have done. We wanted to put a team together that’s tough to beat”
“When you’re the reigning champions everyone wants to beat you so there are no easy games and the way the guys have conducted themselves over the course of the year has been fantastic”
“Our defensive record has been fantastic as well”
Indeed the Chelmsford defence has been as solid as a rock most weekends, aside from the odd blip here and there. An in-depth review of their season was published by PHN last week and can be read HERE
Invicta Dynamos Coach Kevin Parrish was slightly less cheery than his Chelmsford counterpart and not for the first time in recent seasons, questioned his players’ commitment to the cause.
“I know the guys only get a little bit of cash for their expenses but I’d be committed for the whole season” said the Mo’s supremo in an interview with Kent Online.
“I wouldn’t leave my team-mates, knowing we were pushing for the title. Every weekend is crucial and we’ve dropped points when we haven’t had a full squad”
“It starts from simple things. Guys turning up on a Sunday not wearing a shirt and tie, guys turning up for away games not wearing their tracksuits, guys turning up late. As far as I’m concerned, lateness breeds laziness and it all starts from that”
Parrish later took to Twitter to bemoan ‘another misquote’ although it was unclear if the Kent Online article was the journalistic error he was referring too.
The frustrations laid bare by Parrish are certainly not exclusive to the Mo’s and most NIHL coaching staff would share his sentiment about player commitment to a full season of hockey, being exactly that.
It is a line that semi-pro sport can sometimes struggle with, and ultimately a key guy missing a key fixture can have a pivotal effect on a campaign.
For fans, coaching staff and even team mates, these situations can be infuriating, however on the flip side, none are wholly professional players and in all honesty they all have to make life decisions and weigh up the pros and cons. Sometimes it works out, other times not.
On the island, Wightlink Raiders Player-Coach Jeremy Cornish had words of praise for vanquished opponents of the previous weekend, namely Milton Keynes Thunder and also looked forward to the weekend fixtures ahead.
“Invicta will be looking to finish their last away game of the regular season with a win on Saturday and it’s my job to make sure the guys are ready for the biggest game of the season” said Cornish in his Coaches Corner.
“We have been working hard in training this week and even though we are a bit banged up, the guys know how important it is to try and get that second seed heading into the play-offs”
“Last weekend we had a home and away series against the Milton Keynes Thunder and we won both games with relative ease”
“MK have improved as the season has worn on and it’s great to see them get through their year with a good number of players. I’m sure when they move back into their main rink they will attract more players”
In Streatham, one player was a happy camper as defenseman Adam Mahoney managed to get a picture taken with former Chelsea and Italian football legend Gianfranco Zola.
This makes him the third NIHL player to be snapped with a famous football player, with the skinny red jeans wearing Streatham #7 being joined by James Ayling (pictured with Kevin Keegan) and David Oliver (pictured with Joey Barton).
Pro Hockey News posted a couple of NIHL stories of interest including an interview with GB Under 18’s goalie Denis Bell. Other NIHL players on international duty include Callum Buglass of Cardiff, Harvey Stead, Ivan Antonov and Sam Duggan all of Bracknell, Alex Whyte of Milton Keynes and Simon Hobbis of Wightlink.
Whyte, Duggan and Antonov were all on target as GB beat Korea 6-3 on Friday night in a warm up game in Dumfries, Scotland. To read the Denis Bell interview please click HERE
Wightlink and Invicta met on the island in a fixture that would decide which team secured a runners-up spot on the league and potentially an easier play-off schedule.
The home side delighted their fans with a 7-4 win thanks to a brace from import Matthew Vizzari and lone goals from Steven Osman, Alex Barker, Richard Facey, Craig Tribe and Damon Larter.
Invicta goalie Davey Jackson took a knock during the game but carried on heroically whilst Elliott Knell, Nicky Lewis, Marek Nahlik and Juraj Huska got the Mo’s goals.
Alex Barker was ejected towards the end of the game on a misconduct call from referee Blaine Evans.
The result ensures that Wightlink finish the league in second place with the Mo’s a guaranteed third.
In Lee Valley a London derby featuring two teams with short benches took place with the London Raiders beating Streatham Redskins 7-3.
Raiders goals came from hat tricks by both AJ Smith and Jakub Klima plus a lone goal from Tom Davis. For Streatham it was Joe Johnston, Sean Scarbrough and Steven Fisher with the goals.
Jamie McIlroy and David Oliver dropped the gloves in the first period to add to the report.
Milton Keynes Thunder played their penultimate home game of the season as they went down 8-1 to Chelmsford Chieftains.
Grant Bartlett, Michael Ranby and Luke Brittle all impressed for the Chieftains with two goals each with their other goals coming from Matt Turner and Tibor Schneider. Maksims Petruks was on target for the Thunder.
The big game of the day was a dead rubber in theory but like most matches between Chelmsford and London Raiders, it was certainly not played that way.
Despite leading twice, the Raiders let their advantage slip and lost 3-2 against their deadly rivals.
Danny Marshall and Jakub Klima were on target for London, with James Ayling, Cameron Bartlett and Darren Brown the scorers for Chelmsford.
Chieftains goalie Euan King and London’s Billy Phillips were both ejected at the end of the first for an altercation that also saw Julian Smith square off twice with the Raiders blue liner in quick succession.
Wightlink Raiders coach Jeremy Cornish may have been complimentary towards the MK Thunder but his side showed them no mercy as they hammered the bottom placed side 15-4 on the island.
Four goals for Canadian Matthew Vizzari wrapped up a good weekend for him and there were also efforts from Alex Barker and Cornish with a brace each and lone goals for Loris Taylor, Yousif Abu Saada, Damon Larter, Alex Trendall, Richard Facey, Craig Tribe and Steven Osman.
MK scorers were Piotr Poziomkowski, Harrison Goode, Nidal Phillips and Ryan Gadeke.
Streatham finished their league campaign on a high with a 4-1 road victory over Solent & Gosport Devils.
Steven Fisher, Joe Allen, Sean Scarbrough and Dom Hopkins sealed the points for Streatham, which means they will probably end the season in fifth place unless London Raiders slip up in their two remaining games.
Invicta also had a happy ending to a topsy turvy season as they came from behind to hammer Bracknell Hornets 10-2 at Silverblades.
Danny Hammond, Andy Smith, Marek Nahlik and Callum Fowler all got a brace each for the Mo’s with Chris Cooke and Nicky Lewis also on target. For Bracknell Danny Hughes and Ryan Handisides both scored however the latter ended the night on a low note as he took a puck to the chin and lost a chunk of skin.
Invicta revealed their injury worries after the weekend action when it was revealed that defenseman Ryan Giles is out for the rest of the season with a wrist injury and fellow blueliner Arran Strawson is also injured. Both are key components of the Mo’s blueline and we at PHN wish them both a speedy recovery.
On the plus side, goalie Chris Douglas managed thirty minutes of action taking over from affable Canadian Matt Daubney, who had made his first start of the season between the pipes for the Mo’s.
Pro Hockey News did feature a light hearted look at the season so far so if you would like to get a team by team break down just click HERE to have a read.
Saturday 22nd March 2014
London Raiders 7-3 Streatham Redskins
Wightlink Raiders 7-4 Invicta Dynamos
MK Thunder 1-8 Chelmsford Chieftains
Sunday 23rd March 2014
Invicta Dynamos 10-2 Bracknell Hornets
Solent & Gosport Devils 1-4 Streatham Redskins
London Raiders 2-3 Chelmsford Cheiftains
Wightlink Raiders 15-4 MK Thunder
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