LONDON, UK – Invicta bounce back, Wightlink and Solent get feisty and Streatham make a change. The NIHL South is not short of action as the festive season approaches its climax.
Streatham made changes to the roster as marquee summer signing Tyrone Miller was replaced by Dundee Stars defenseman Shaun Smith.
Personally I find the situation with Tyrone quite frustrating. He is a local guy, quite affable, a tough competitor and could have been a real figurehead to build the team around over the next few seasons.
It is no secret that Tyrone has suffered from injuries this season and we all would have loved to see him do well but it just seems like it wasn’t meant to be this time round.
A lot of defensemen only get plaudits for charging forward and getting goals but Tyrone is a proper blue liner and if Invicta (who moved for his signature during the week) can get him fit and motivated he will be a real asset to their roster.
Making his debut last week against Chelmsford and now confirmed as a full time addition to the roster in Streatham was young Scot Shaun Smith. Transferring down from the Elite League side Dundee Stars, Smith has Streatham blood in him already as he is related to former Redskins hardman Dave Smith and current prospect Daniel Clayton.
Shaun is a quality pick up and is a good skater and composed on the puck as you would expect but also has a glint in his eye much like Davey. The Scottish glint that says ‘I will spear you in the face’ if you upset him, not unlike his countryman and now team mate Jamie McIlroy (who was delighted with the supply of Buckfast Smith brought down with him from the other side of Hadrians Wall).
The addition of Tyrone Miller to the Invicta ranks coincided with the departure of the smooth skating defenseman Tom Avery. Invicta have quite publicly been threatening cuts to their roster recently and Avery soon found himself back in the arms of his old club Bracknell Hornets.
Avery always looks a good player when I have seen him and it is a shame things haven’t worked out for him at Chelmsford or Invicta and he finds himself back where he started.
Down on the island, Wightlink Raiders were looking forward to a visit from near neighbours Solent & Gosport Devils.
“Gosport is a much improved team from the start of the year, the last time we played them it was a one goal game and we were very lucky to come away from that rink with a point” admitted Wightlink Coach Jeremy Cornish in his Coaches Corner on the Raiders website.
“Gosport have some former Raiders on that team and when ex-players come back to the Island for the first time, it adds a bit of spice to the match. Gosport has been playing much better over the last few weeks, they are a hard working team that really wants to stay up this year and the results have started to go their way a bit”
“They have an experienced team and a few players who have an eye for the goal. If we want to stay around the top of the league heading into the Christmas break, we need to be playing our style of hockey and I think this Saturday’s game is going to be a good one”
Romford were certainly happy after grabbing a late equaliser against Chelmsford the previous week to keep their advantage over their rivals in the league.
“It was a huge game for both teams and, as predicted, it was an absolute cracker” admitted Raiders manager Mick Cahill in an interview with the Romford Recorder.
“It was a real black and white performance from us. On the one hand, we took some avoidable penalties and allowed unforgiveable turnovers but to counter that we showed magnificent sprit to keep coming back in a game where we were never ahead”
“I’m sure people are sick of hearing me say it but, 5-on-5, I’m convinced we have no equal in this league. Chelmsford’s undoubted speed and passing game were always a threat, but most of their chances and all of their goals came from our mistakes”
“However, we simply refused to lie down and I thought we thoroughly deserved a share of the points. As I said to Matty Turner after the game, his equaliser really is what you call a big goal”
“I grant you, nine seconds from the end was cutting it fine but we like to keep our audience entertained. I recall a game here against the Chieftains when they levelled in the last minute. I know how gutted I was that night so I can imagine they felt robbed on Sunday, but I think a tie was probably the right result on the balance of play”
Indeed before this weekend’s games took place Romford were certainly looking good for the title in comparison with their Essex rivals at the midway stage in the season.
Invicta made the long trip west to take on Cardiff knowing that the Big Blue Tent has rarely been a happy hunting ground for them. With new signing Tyrone Miller thrown straight into the mix, the Dynamos won an exciting encounter 6-4 with Callum Best getting an empty netter to kill off a valiant Cardiff comeback attempt.
Peter Vaisanen and Andy Smith both got a brace each as did Best as the Mo’s took the points.
For Cardiff Sean Scarbrough hit two goals with Steve Osman and Steven Fisher getting the other.
Other talking points were the ejection of Anthony Lennon for a slashing call and a scrap between Cardiff’s Chris Hart and Invicta’s Callum Best.
Chelmsford comfortably beat Milton Keynes 6-1 in a cup match at the Thunderdome.
Danny Hammond hit two for the Chieftains with James Ayling, Grant Bartlett, Julius Sinkovic and Tom Castle all getting a goal each. MK’s goal came from Greg Randall.
There was a bad tempered clash on the Isle of Wight as the resident Wightlink Raiders hosted near rivals Solent & Gosport Devils.
The Raiders came from behind to beat their bottom of the league opponents 6-3 and please a home crowd dressed in red as requested by the team management before the game.
Jeremy Cornish, Craig Tribe and Alex Murray all got a brace each for Wightlink whilst Solents goals came from Hungarian Gyorgy Kovacs, Richard Nembhart and Kris Abbott.
Devils Adam Rich was ejected after leaving the penalty box and stepping onto the ice, and referee Rene Ross was certainly a busy man dishing out 22 minutes in minors to the Raiders whilst also giving Damon Larter and Richard Facey ten minute misconducts.
Also in the cup Romford avoided an upset in Bracknell with a 3-2 win in the first of two back to back games between the two teams.
Romford hit a late winner thanks to Billy Phillips and there were goals to for Shaun Yardley and JJ McGrath. For Bracknell Nick Minhinnick and Peter Jasik got the goals.
Bracknell gave Romford yet another scare, but this time in Rom Valley Way as the Raiders held on for a 7-6 win in the cup despite leading 5-0 at one point.
Juraj Huska and AJ Smith both got a brace each for the Raiders with Andrius Kaminskas, Grant Taylor and Frankie Harvey getting one each. Danny Hughes got an impressive four goals with Tom Fisher and Richard Wojciack also on target for the Hornets.
Streatham travelled to Invicta and faced off in front of a bumper Christmas crowd at the Silverblades rink.
The majority of the crowd went home happy with an 8-2 win and I have to say that it was nice to see the place reasonably full again compared with recent games there. It was especially fitting for a tearful Anthony Lennon who was handed the captaincy on what was announced as his final game for the club.
Lennon has been a permanent fixture on the blue line for the Mo’s for as long as I can remember and is one of those local guys that they have depended on year in year out. I note from his words on the website that he hasn’t retired so I will spare him the farewell sermon but let’s hope it is not the last time we see him in a Mo’s jersey even if he did get an outstanding ovation from the home crowd.
Back to the game and it really was the Callum Fowler show with the mercurial winger hitting a hat trick for the Mo’s with Andy Smith, Peter Vaisanen, Joe Bliss, Justin Noble and Callum Best all on target with one each.
For Streatham Jamie McIlroy and Joe Johnston popped up with a goal each. Streatham’s new signing Shaun Smith was ejected for attempted head butting which if I am honest I did not see as there were a crowd of players around the goal at the time. Shaun spoke to me afterwards and said he didnt butt anyone and I believe him to be honest.
Wightlink Raiders took a thumping in Chelmsford as the Chieftains ran riot beating their rivals for the title 11-1 in a surprisingly one sided affair.
James Ayling and Danny Hammond both got a hat trick each for Chelmsford with Gary Clarke, Julius Sinkovic, Alex Green and Darren Brown all on target. Jiri Hanzal was the scorer for Wightlink who must have endured a miserable journey back to the island after that result.
Ironically the win for Chelmsford gives their rivals Romford a boost and leaves them top of the table for Christmas.
That wraps up the NIHL South action for 2012 and leaves me to say thank you for reading whether you are in Invicta, Streatham, Gosport, Cardiff, Milton Keynes, Bracknell, Chelmsford, Romford, Isle of Wight or indeed anywhere online. I hope you all the fans, players, officials and management all have a great festive season and we will see you all back on the ice in 2013 ready for more quality British ice hockey action.
Saturday 22nd December 2012
Cardiff NIHL Devils 4-6 Invicta Dynamos
MK Thunder 1-6 Chelmsford Chieftains (Cup)
Bracknell Hornets 2-3 Romford Raiders (Cup)
Wightlink Raiders 6-3 Solent & Gosport Devils
Sunday 23rd December 2012
Romford Raiders 7-6 Bracknell Hornets (Cup)
Invicta Dynamos 8-2 Streatham Redskins
Chelmsford Chieftains 11-1 Wightlink Raiders
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