LONDON, UK – Whilst officials enjoyed a lavish celebration on Saturday, three of them doled out 300 minutes on Sunday as Chelmsford and Romford/London met for the first time, making week six of the NIHL an interesting one.
After an indifferent start to the season, Cardiff NIHL Devils reflected on a heavy road loss in Chelmsford during the week. The youthful looking Welsh side lost a number of players in the summer and as a development team in the true sense of the word, the Devils had no relief to look forward to this coming weekend with fixtures against Invicta and Wightlink.
“This season, and potentially next season we are prepared to take a hit in the league standings” said Coach Mark Cuddihy.
“We realised with the Elite League team having a fourth line of local players (apart from Rupe Quiney) and those guys won’t be going anywhere for a good few years, we needed to make the NIHL team younger and start the process all over again”
“The guys that were 25/26 would probably not get the opportunities we have seen over the last few years due to the amount of players that have been promoted from our team over the last 3 years”
“We are looking at the next crop now, with our under 18’s winning the league and a number of players already having two years’ experience of the odd game here and there I decided to bring them straight into the fold”
“We have actually included four players that are still currently in our under 18’s team, those guys will play full time with us. It’s a difficult change of mentality, having been in and around the top 4 teams for the last few seasons”
Indeed along with Bracknell, Cardiff have an enviable conveyor belt of talented young hockey players and certainly one that clubs like Invicta, Streatham, Wightlink and others would love to have at their disposal.
Wightlink Raiders Coach Jeremy Cornish was in a good mood as his club released some branded dog coats as official merchandise and also as he reflected on a double winning weekend thanks to victories over Solent & Gosport and then Streatham.
“The thing I do like about this team, is the never give up attitude” said Cornish in his weekly Coaches Corner segment of the Raiders website.
“We went down three goals on Sunday night to Streatham and I didn’t hear one negative thing on the bench. The guys have faith in each other and have seemed to bond together very well in the short time we have been together”
“Both wins this weekend were very hard to come by, both Gosport and Streatham have improved this year and those are two teams that will not quit over the course of a 60 minute game”
“We have also shown that we will stick up for each other and that’s a trait that can’t be taught. The guys haven’t backed down from a challenge yet this year and as a coach, it’s a great feeling that we have a group of guys that are willing to sacrifice their bodies for the sake of the team”
The most pertinent point being made is the harmony on the bench, especially when the game is not going the way you like it.
One thing that has been noticeable in the NIHL compared with five or so years ago is the professionalism players have on the bench now and whilst there are the odd incidents where people lose their temper, the sight of a full bench arguing amongst themselves, lobbing water bottles all over the place and generally looking like the local nutters on a day out seem banished to history.
Speaking of having a day out, Streatham’s Californian forward Sean Scarbrough revealed in the club match day programme (24 pages of full colour fun) his favourite part of London in an exclusive interview.
“I have been able to see a lot of the major sights in London” said Scarbrough when asked his opinion on his new life in the capital.
“My favourite part changes every day it seems. Right now, I’m enjoying the scene around Piccadilly Circus”
The interview did not probe further into what scene the former Cardiff winger was talking about but given the area around those famous flashing lights includes Chinatown, Theatre land, high class shopping and the red light/gay district, perhaps Pro Hockey News will get an exclusive later on in the year to find out exactly what Mr Scarbrough finds so appealing about Piccadilly.
Streatham were of course smarting after losing both games in their latest fixtures with narrow losses to Bracknell and Wightlink on consecutive days.
“It’s not the first time this season and this is a pattern that needs to be stamped out immediately” said Captain Joe Johnston after the Redskins allowed a 3-0 lead to slip before losing 7-5 to Wightlink.
“We have to learn to see games out when leading and find a way of grinding out victories. We simply have to pull our fingers out and none more so than yours truly, as at the moment, and with the squad we have results are not good enough”
“Harsh words this early on? Maybe, but I have high hopes for us this season”
Johnston had written those words in the programme in his regular Captains log feature however even his musings were eclipsed by a stunning lookalike featuring defenseman Adam Mahoney printed in the same publication.
Before we even get onto the hockey for the weekend there was also another event that the hockey community, especially in the capital were looking forward to and that was the wedding of Olympic referee Joy Tottman and former London Racers GM Scott Johnston in the lavish surroundings of Whitehall Banqueting House.
A large number of hockey players and officials gathered for what will go down as one of the best hockey related weddings in memory. Each guest was given a commemorative puck and key ring and the real centrepiece was the Stanley Cup inspired wedding cake which was a joy (no pun intended) to behold.
Given the abuse the officials in the UK sometimes take, it was good to see the hockey family get together and celebrate in style for a change.
Congratulations to Joy and Scott from all at Pro Hockey News.
A couple of weeks ago the London Raiders found themselves 5-1 down against the Streatham Redskins but managed to pull back for a 5-5 tie, but this time Bracknell Hornets finished the job on the Raiders in a memorable night at the Hive.
A 7-3 win for Bracknell (who were 6-1 up after the first period) will come as a surprise to some but anyone who has seen the Hornets recently will know that they are more than capable of getting results like this.
Danny Hughes and Tom Fisher both scored two goals each for the Hornets with the other goals coming from Harvey Stead, Carl Thompson and Ryan Handisides.
For London the scorers were Frankie Harvey with two and a lone goal from AJ Smith.
Referee Blaine Evans kicked out Raiders teenager Charlie Phillips for abuse of official at the end of the game as the youngster protested a an illegal equipment call, however there was better news for Hornets teen Vanya Antonov who was awarded man of the match on his debut.
There was a time when Invicta versus Cardiff would be one of the biggest fixtures of the season but in recent seasons the Devils have found it tough in Kent and the match up between the teams this time round was no different,
A shut out for Dynamos goalie Davey Jackson was probably the main news item to take away from this game as the Devils were forced to swallow a tough 10-0 loss.
Danny Hammond and Andy Smith both scored two goals each for the Mo’s with Anthony Leone, Elliott Knell, Shaun Wild, Alan Lack, Jakub Klima and Juraj Huska also on target.
Alan Lack dropped the gloves with Phil Manny and likewise Mo’s youngster Harrison Lillis went toe to toe with Cardiff’s Ross Wilkinson, to give the fans in Gillingham something else to cheer.
On the island, there was a much anticipated clash between Wightlink and Chelmsford as the league leaders came up against the bookies favourites for the title.
The home fans were dreaming of two points at 3-1 up midway through the game, however Chelmsford bounced back and managed to grind out a 4-4 tie.
A hat trick from Alex Barker topped off another good display by him in a Raiders jersey and the other goal for Wightlink came from Jeremy Cornish.
Chelmsford, who were missing goal machine Luke Brittle, scored courtesy of a brace from James Ayling and one each for Ross Brears and Daniel Volrab.
Wightlink had handed debuts to Ricky Attrill and teenager Alex Trendall, with the latter afforded a rookie’s gift after he left the rink. Trendall did not of course receive his gift until he showed up to play for Wightlink under 18’s the following afternoon.
Pro Hockey News assumes that the stick tape supplier to the Raiders was as impressed as Trendall with the gift left by his older and more mature team mates.
In the biggest evening of fixtures so far this year in the NIHL there were a number of intriguing match ups, not least the first Essex derby of the year as London/Romford Raiders travelled up to Chelmsford.
It was the Raiders who stunned their hosts taking a 2-0 lead courtesy of Shaun Yardley and Frankie Harver with only five minutes remaining, before a dramatic comeback from the Chieftains pegged them back as the in-form Ross Brears equalised in the final sixty seconds after Grant Bartlett had put them back in contention a few minutes earlier.
Referee Matt Thompson and his linesmen Phil O’Neill and Nick Stephenson had been suited and booted and enjoying the splendour of the wedding at Whitehall just twenty four hours previous but the Riverside had a slightly more aggressive ambience in comparison at the end of the game.
A reported bench clearance at the end saw Chieftains players Daniel Volrab, Ross Brears, John Connolly and Grant Bartlett all get match penalties, whilst the same was dished out to their Romford counterparts Billy Phillips, Charlie Phillips, JJ McGrath, David Oliver and Shaun Yardley.
Just to add to the game sheet mess, Chieftains Player Coach Gary Clarke had been ejected for spearing earlier in the game.
In total over 300 penalty minutes dished out in the first Essex derby of the season and it means that Chelmsford will travel to Bracknell next week missing some key guys and London will be light on their travels to Cardiff as suspensions kick in.
Streatham Redskins avenged last week’s 3-2 defeat in Bracknell with a tense 5-3 win over the Hornets in Brixton. Bracknell had pulled back from 3-1 down to tie it all up at 3-3 with one period to go, but Streatham held firm and scored two goals in the third.
Streatham’s hero was Sean Scarbrough who hit form at the right time with a hat trick, and the other goals came from Dom Hopkins and Steven Fisher.
Bracknell’s goals came courtesy of Danny Hughes with two and a lone effort from Michael Plenty. A note regarding Bracknell’s young forward Vanya Antonov, would read that this kid has some speed.
The game was notable as being the last appearance for Streatham’s Russ Stevens as he takes a break from the game to focus on work commitments. Streatham will be a poorer place with the absence of Rusty however we are sure he will be back.
Cardiff ended the weekend with no points as they came unstuck on home ice to Wightlink Raiders.
The Raiders haven’t always found trips to the Big Blue Tent easy in the past and once again the hardworking Devils side gave them a good game.
Wightlink took a 4-2 win thanks to goals from Alex Barker, Simon Hobbis, Matthew Vizzari and Richard Facey. Stevie Balmer scored a brace for Cardiff.
Down on the South Coast, Invicta avoided a potential banana skin as they edged out Solent & Gosport Devils 5-3.
It was 3-3 with less than seven minutes remaining on the clock but Kevin Parrish’s men scored two late goals through Shaun Wild and Juraj Huska (who completed his hat trick). The Dynamos other goal came from Anthony Leone.
For Solent & Gosport it was Kent Johnson, George Norcliffe and Peter Chrenko with the goals.
There was worse news for poor Solent player Kieran Perella who took a puck to the face that went through his skin and into his gum causing him to pay a long visit to A&E after the game. Get well soon Kieran.
So the weekend ends with Wightlink top of the league, Chelmsford already tied three times in six games and Streatham getting their first league win of the season.
Saturday 13th October 2013
Invicta Dynamos 10-0 Cardiff NIHL Devils
Bracknell Hornets 7-3 London Raiders
Wightlink Raiders 4-4 Chelmsford Chieftains
Sunday 6th October 2013
Chelmsford Chieftains 2-2 London Raiders
Cardiff NIHL Devils 2-4 Wightlink Raiders
Streatham Redskins 5-3 Bracknell Hornets
Solent & Gosport Devils 3-5 Invicta Dynamos
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