LONDON, UK – The NIHL South hit its tenth week of the season and there were goals, fights, a sad passing and players that just need a hug.
Sad news came out of Bracknell as it was revealed that popular former Hornets manager Larry Lee had passed away.
A key member of the backroom staff for the Hornets for many years, Lee was involved when the Hornets lifted their famous Play-Off trophy in 2009/10.
To give you an idea of the kind of guy Larry was just take a look at the notes from his final programme notes as the Hornets’ manager.
“One last note, on Friday 30th April at the end of season bash, I will very sadly step down as manager of the Bracknell Hornets” it reads.
“It’s been a very eventful journey from five seasons ago not really having a job as a manager after one year at U14’s and two at U16’s B squad, supporting my grandson who then went on to motocross”
“I was then given three water bottles and a list of names of players, who I have never known before, and asked if I would manage the Hornets. Since then I have seen four coaches and some wonderful players and characters pass through the squad”
“It’s been hard work, time consuming, and very enjoyable, but it’s time to hand on to a new person. My week end work is getting more and more and it is not good to miss so many games, you just can’t as a manager at this level”
“I would like to thank two super Bracknell Club Members; Tony Lack for getting me into managing in the very first place who always moaned amount the money the Hornets cost the club. And coach Gareth Cox for being brilliant but the hardest bloke I have ever worked for”
“I would like to finish on a high with the Squad Winning today and going on to make play-off champions 2009 / 2010 season. The boys are very capable, but do they really want it? They are very skilful, talented and powerful”
“They could beat all comers, but do they really want it? This has been a question I have asked myself over the last few months. I really hope they do”
They beat Wightlink that evening and none were smiling as broadly as Larry Lee.
All at Pro Hockey News offer their condolences to Larry’s family.
The Hornets also confirmed the signing of Streatham Redskins defenseman Luke Reynolds during the week as they added the former Basingstoke and Romford blue liners experience to their roster.
Reynolds had left the South London club to be nearer home due to a welcome addition to his family.
“Luke will bring a stabilising factor to our young team through his experience of UK hockey at all levels and I am delighted to have him on board” admitted Coach Lukas Smital in a short but sweet statement on the club website.
In Streatham, fiery Scot Jamie McIlroy admitted that the team had not got off to the best of starts this season, but he was still enjoying his time in Brixton following his summer move from Slough.
“I’m enjoying playing for Streatham and have settled in well, we have a good set up in Brixton and things definitely seem to be on the up” said the Paisley bred player in an club press release.
“Obviously I would love for us to be in a better position than we are but we are all pulling in the same direction and I know the best is yet to come from us. All of the lads have been welcoming and it’s a good atmosphere in the changing room to be part of”
“There’s been some comedy moments already and Stevie Balmer (from Belfast) never fails to bring a smile to my face with his comedy accent”
“Our fans have been great and have travelled everywhere with us, literally drumming up support for the lads, hopefully we can start producing the results that they deserve for their dedication”
“We have some tough games in the run up to Christmas and we need to start picking up points to ensure we are in a much better position for the start of 2013”
“I don’t think anyone expected us to be challenging for the league but they certainly didn’t expect us to be sat in 8th position at this stage either”
One person looking forward to playing against the Redskins in the coming weekend more than most was Chelmsford Chieftains forward Michael Ranby.
The former Lee Valley and Haringey man iced with the Skins in the 2010/11 season and has been on good scoring form this season.
“It took me a while to settle in, I don’t know if that was because I had just had surgery on my face and was wearing a cage again, but it took me a while to get my focus and get confident at first” explained Ranby, regarding his move to Essex.
“Now I’ve settled, it’s really good, the atmosphere is brilliant, the boys are sound like most hockey players. And there is a good balance so we can have fun but still stay focused on our hockey”
“The season started great, our preseason fixtures went well, we even beat Telford’s EPL side 4-2”
“That carried through into the start of the season, with a big win streak. I think we got a bit complacent with a run of bad results which we hope will not cost us further down the line. We had a solid win against MK Thunder last weekend so hopefully we can take back our good form”
In Wightlink, the happy new dad Jeremy Cornish could not have been more pleased with how things had gone after his wife gave birth to a baby boy and his team delivered a four point weekend.
“This week in training we need to get back to our defensive zone coverage” explained the big Canadian looking ahead to the weekend in his Coaches Corner.
“We play Invicta in the league on Sunday and they are a fast team the gets a lot of offensive chances, so we need to buckle down and make sure we know our responsibilities”
“Thursday night we will do a video session before training and look at the film from the Cardiff game, it will be good to see what the guys are doing well and what we need to correct”
Another team who would have probably enjoyed a video session during the week were the Invicta Dynamos who were all delighted after a comeback win over rivals Romford the previous Sunday. The win was all the more impressive after Mo’s goalie Andy Moffat had pulled himself after conceding the third goal in what turned out as a 6-4 win.
Head Coach Kevin Parrish admitted in an interview with the Medway Messenger that a change in tact with training appeared to be doing the trick for his men.
“We put a few funny things in to training to let them have a laugh and a joke” he said without elaborating further.
“It helps take the pressure off. I’ve been telling them that they are here for a reason, they’re not here to just make up the numbers.”
“We have started having a bit of a debrief after the game and I always try to end it on a positive note, sometimes they need a hug, but when that happens they know they will get the hairdryer treatment as well sometime”
“I don’t really hug my wife that much, so I’m not going to be hugging the players too much either. You can go into the dressing room and smash a load of sticks up, but we can’t afford to buy new sticks all the time”
“Some players respond differently if you shout at them. They have got to figure out what I’m about and I have to figure out what they are about, that’s probably part of it as well”
One thing that cannot be disputed is that the price of sticks in the UK is a good way of keeping dressing rooms intact.
Smashing a stick on purpose is just a lesser equivalent of the KLF burning a million pounds in the name of art. Who can forget last season’s epic stick smash by Wightlink’s Jeremy Cornish who raised a one piece like King Arthur and Excalibur and destroyed it in front of the cheering masses at Ryde Arena.
Only difference that time was that it wasn’t his stick but that of Streatham’s Jerry Pavlus who was safely in the visitor’s locker room smiling nervously to himself.
Last time I smashed a stick in anger was off the wall of Alexandra Palace after a particularly dismal game for the Greyhounds. It felt great at the time two handing a listed building but less satisfying when I had to spend over a hundred quid on a replacement (replacing the stick not the Palace).
One final note to a poster on the Invicta Dynamos online forum, who described Romford Raiders defenseman David Oliver as ‘As menacing as a crème brulee’ which nearly caused this week’s round up to be cancelled after I spat out a mouthful of tea on my laptop when reading it.
Poor Mr Oliver was on cloud nine after getting a couple of goals last weekend including a cracking top shelfer, but then gets labelled as an equivalent to perhaps one of the worst desserts known to man just days later.
That’s hockey anyway, one minute you have your arms aloft in celebration in front of cheering fans and the next you are spending your Sunday’s round the in laws watching Heartbeat re-runs as a healthy scratch.
The secret is to enjoy it while it lasts.
Romford Raiders gained a massive result in their title quest as they came back from behind to beat Cardiff NIHL Devils in the Big Blue Tent with a 4-3 score line.
Despite losing 3-1 at one stage the Raiders made what could be a season defining comeback even at this early stage.
Romford goals came from Shaun Yardley, Danny Marshall, Billy Phillips and Frankie Harvey.
Cardiff scorers were Sean Scarbrough with a brace and Steven Fisher with the other.
Invicta ‘Fun Time’ Dynamos headed across to Bracknell looking to avoid any slip up to their good form of late.
If ever Mrs Parrish was to get a big hug from Coach Kev it would be after this game as the Mo’s demolished the Hornets 11-0 in what must be one of Bracknell’s biggest home defeats in recent seasons.
A hat trick for Peter Vaisanen and a brace each for Andy Smith, Nathaniel Rose an Callum Fowler did the damage for the Mo’s with Jack Tarczycki and Callum Best also on the score sheet.
Bracknell’s Juraj Chumula and Arran Strawson also dropped the gloves to add to the action.
On the Island a cup game between Wightlink Raiders and Slough NIHL Jets turned into a farce as the Jets arrived with only seven skaters and two goalies.
With predictable consequences, as the Raiders destroyed them 21-3 in front of a Ryde Arena crowd that probably felt they didn’t get the game they turned up to see.
Credit to the Raiders as they iced some players who don’t normally see much game time and it says a lot that import Jiri Hanzal only got two of the goals.
Aside from the Czech’s contribution it was Steve Gosset and Joe Denness who top scored with five goals each for the Raiders. Robbie Brown and Corey Watkins both got hat tricks, Aiden Doughty got two and there was a lone goal from Kieran Annis.
For Slough it was Scott Cooper, Timo Lindgren and Nathan Darmanin.
As someone who has played for teams travelling with short benches to games I can sympathise with the guys from Slough who made the trip to the island (only one of their regulars was on EPL duty in Basingstoke the same evening).
I guess it will be their missing team mates who will have to look them in the eye at training this week, but sadly I know only too well that guilt is a rare emotion at times in situations like this.
Just like Bracknell against Invicta on home ice, MK Thunder must have been pretty confident of upsetting Chelmsford at the Thunder dome in the final game of the day.
Just like the Hornets, the Thunder capitulated and got spanked 9-1 by a Chelmsford side led by former MK sniper Gary Clarke.
Clarke hit four goals for the Chieftains with James Ayling, Danny Hammond, Julius Sinkovic, Tibor Schneider and Michael Ranby getting one each. For Milton Keynes it was Jamie Randall with their only goal.
Streatham hosted Chelmsford at Planet Ice Brixton desperate for a win in the league. Sadly the visitors came out all guns blazing at the start and by the time we switched on we were 3-0 down.
Chelmsford won 6-3 in the end and are clearly a good side but I think we were not too far off and with maybe some better finishing and some better discipline in our own end we could have taken a point.
Danny Hammond scored a brace for Chelmsford with Tom Castle, Ross Brears, Gary Clarke and Julius Sinkovic also on target.
Streatham goals came from Jakub Klima, Joe Johnston and Adam Mahoney.
Invicta faced a big league challenge as Wightlink Raiders rolled into town. The Mo’s clearly have some momentum now and skated off with a narrow 3-2 win.
Peter Vaisanen got a brace for Invicta to round off a nice personal weekend for him and Justin Noble got the other. Wightlink’s goal scorers were Robbie Brown and Alex Murray.
The win was all the more impressive given the number of power plays the Raiders had during the game as the home side took a raft of minor penalties.
Bracknell’s miserable weekend continued as they were thrashed 14-1 in Romford by a buoyant Raiders side.
A hat trick from Juraj Huska and a brace each for Frankie Harvey, Matt Turner, Sean Yardley did the damage for Romford with Tom Davis, AJ Smith and JJ McGrath also on the score sheet.
Tom Fisher got Bracknell’s lone goal.
The final game of the evening saw struggling Solent & Gosport Devils beaten 9-1 on their own ice by Cardiff.
Cardiff scorers were Steven Fisher with a hat trick, Sean Scarbrough and Ricky Deacon with a brace each and lone goals from Steven Osman and Rob Sedlak.
The Solent fans had something else to talk about in the third period as Adam Rich jumped Cardiff’s Ross Wilkinson and landed a couple of blows on the Welshman.
The results over the weekend show the gulf in class between the sides in the NIHL if the stronger teams play well and the lower ranked teams have an off night. Let’s hope for sake of competition that these fixtures are rare over the season.
Saturday 3rd November 2012
Cardiff NIHL Devils 3-4 Romford Raiders
Bracknell Hornets 0-11 Invicta Dynamos
MK Thunder 1-9 Chelmsford Chieftains
Wightlink Raiders 21-3 Slough NIHL Jets (Cup)
Sunday 4th November 2012
Streatham Redskins 3-6 Chelmsford Chieftains
Invicta Dynamos 3-2 Wightlink Raiders
Romford Raiders 14-1 Bracknell Hornets
Solent & Gosport Devils 1-9 Cardiff NIHL Devils
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