LONDON, UK – The first weekend of action in 2013 brought goals, fights and some big results that impacted both ends of the league table. NIHL South 1 started the year with a real bang.
Happy New Year hockey fans, players and officials and welcome to 2013 in the NIHL South. I know what some of you may be thinking… is it really week 18 of the season or is it actually week 19?
Well technically it is week 19 as some teams, namely Milton Keynes Thunder and Invicta Dynamos had to play a game just before New Year’s Eve but for sake of neatness, and mainly because the round-up was given a well-earned week off last Sunday, we will continue to call this week 18 of the season.
Now that is cleared up, it is fair to say that Milton Keynes probably wished they had stayed at home tucking into the remainder of pigs in blankets and turkey sandwiches, than strap their kit on and suffer the 9-2 defeat on home ice to Invicta they did on the 30th December.
One man who certainly made his trip from Kent to Buckinghamshire worthwhile that night was the mercurial Mo’s Captain Andy Smith. Already the Mo’s All-time leading point scorer, the local boy made good smashed through the 800 points mark with 2 goals and 2 assists against the Thunder.
Also on target for the Mo’s that night were Peter Vaisanen with four goals and one apiece for Harrison Lillis, Arran Strawson and Callum Fowler. For MK it was Maksims Petruks and Player Coach Simon Howard with the goals.
The Thunder were without lively forward Connor Goode for this game as he earned a call up to the Premier League side MK Lightning for their busy schedule over the festive season.
When you consider that Andy Smith has hit his target in only 315 games or so, it does make you wonder how he would have fared if he had stepped up a league for a reasonable length of time, but in a game where loyalty is often in short supply he has to be commended for being a real talisman for the Mo’s over the last few years.
Talking about local pride and spirit, the Chelmsford Chieftains 25th Anniversary game finally took place with a Legends team taking on the current side at the Riverside.
A 4-4 tie was the end result in front of a 600 plus crowd which is certainly very decent given the time of year. Legends such as Karl Rogers and Rick Smith dazzled the crowd with their old trickery whilst others did their best to entertain the crowd.
Goalies Ben Clements and Andy Moffat dropped the mitts and went toe to toe and then Darren Perries had a tilt with match referee (and Lee Valley Junior Coach) Phil O’Neill much to the delight of the crowd.
Browsing the excellent pictures on the Chieftains Facebook page certainly brought a smile to my face, leaving me the awkward decision of which to use for this particular column. In the end I chose two, the first which sums up the spirit of the occasion and the second, a one which leaves the reader guessing why referee O’Neill is eyeing up (and possibly lunging at) defenseman Sean Easton’s crotch.
Hockey is a funny old game and from all reports it appears that everyone had a great evening in Essex that night.
With most hockey players in the league succumbing to the excess of the festive season, the turn of the New Year re focusses the mind and one player is determined to make sure his health kick combines with some good for charity.
Often pictured in this column clutching a crate of beer from his man on the match display in Cardiff last year, Romford Raiders defenseman David Oliver is going ‘dry’ this month in aid of Cancer Research, as is his team mate Ryan Giles.
The Just Giving links for both players are at the bottom of the article so please donate to this worthy cause.
Streatham gave their fans a late Christmas present as the Londoners finally replaced long since departed import Tomas Valko with 32 year old Slovakian winger Michal Oravec.
Michal has been training with us for the last few weeks while we waited for ITC clearance and hopefully he can take some of the scoring pressure off Jakub Klima. Those of you who follow UK hockey intensely will have of course realised straight away that it is indeed the Michal Oravec that iced in the EPL with Solihull Barons back in 2006.
Another hard hitting news story that emerged from last week included the delivery of team hoodies and t-shirts for the Streatham Redskins.
Everyone loves a hoodie, even our Prime Minister David Cameron, so it was a smiling locker room that received the snazzy new clothing in South London on Thursday. Will Dom Hopkins and Stewart Tait now cast aside their Wightlink Raiders leisure wear and will our sports therapist Tanya Romans ditch her garish yellow jumper now that the Redskins are rolling with official tops?
The acid test however will obviously be whether Derek Zoolander and Hansel, namely Evander Grinnell and Adam Mahoney can bear to risk their reputations in ‘team wear’.
On a personal note I managed to get a skate with the Durham Dragons recreational side over Christmas at the majestic (Ok, heritage-esque) Hillheads rink in Whitley Bay. Before we got on to the ice I managed to catch a glimpse of my old team mate Gary Dowd and the Whitley Warriors training and it was weird to hear a load of guys talking with the same accent as me after years training and playing down South.
It was also pleasing to see that despite the addition of plexi glass and warm showers at Whitley Bay they still manage to get that corrugated ice effect on their pad after all these years.
No wonder the likes of David Longstaff (former Whitley junior now at Guildford) have such great hands, after all if you can stickhandle a puck well on that ice, everywhere else should be easy.
With the FA Cup weekend creating plenty of excitement for football fans across the country I maintain once again that a Knockout Cup featuring sides from NIHL North and South and possibly the Scottish National League would be fantastic for this level of the sport. Imagine Streatham playing up in Blackburn or Billingham heading down to the island or even Invicta travelling up to Solway, it would be great for fans, service stations and this column as we would have a large variety of stories to write about.
EIHA… make it happen please.
Lastly I am pleased to announce that bruise of the week has returned with an absolute corker from Redskins Welsh blue liner Phil Manny who managed to get in the way of a Dom Hopkins slap shot in training. Don’t forget to email bruises to the email address below.
Invicta Dynamos hosted a Cardiff side that they had beaten in Wales just before Christmas.
The Kent side were slightly more comfortable getting the two points this time round with an 8-5 win in a game not short of talking points.
A brace each from Callum Best and Peter Vaisanen helped Invicta to victory with Arran Strawson, Jack Tarczycki, Harrison Lillis and Andy Smith getting one goal apiece.
For Cardiff Sean Scarbrough started 2013 as he finished 2012 with two goals and Alan Armour, Jamie Newton and Steven Osman scored the others.
The main talking point centred around a reportedly clumsy hit by Cardiff’s Ross Wilkinson on Smith at the end of the period which sparked a mini brawl, as Vaisanen sought retribution on the big Cardiff defenseman and Invicta’s Tim Smith tangled with James Parsons.
Wilkinson was ejected for the hit with a match penalty but more importantly Dynamos import Vaisanen was also given a match for his subsequent actions, which meant that Invicta would have to travel to Romford the following evening for a crunch league clash minus one of their most effective forwards.
Milton Keynes Thunder travelled with just over two lines to the Isle of Wight to take on a Wightlink Raiders side boosted by the return of former Sunderland junior Dan Pye to the blue line.
In a fairly low key cup game, Pye and his colleagues managed to shut out the Thunder with a 3-0 win. Richard Facey hit two goals for the Raiders with Jiri Hanzal getting the other.
Chelmsford navigated a potentially tricky fixture in Bracknell as they despatched the Hornets 5-1 at the Hive.
Gary Clarke hit a hat trick for Chelmsford with Julius Sinkovic and Danny Hammond getting the others. For Bracknell Peter Jasik was on target.
Oxford City Stars faced a stern test in the cup as they hosted Romford Raiders at Oxpens Road.
It was always going to be a difficult match for the NIHL South 2 side and they ended up on the wrong side of a 6-1 score line.
Matt Turner scored a brace for the Raiders with Andrius Kaminskas, JJ McGrath and Billy Phillips all getting one each. Mr Oxford Darren Elliott got the lone goal for the Stars, whilst the Raiders also saw Captain Julian Smith ejected for slashing midway through.
Streatham could not have asked for a tougher start to 2013 than an early trip to Chelmsford and the Redskins ended up losing 7-1 to a solid Chieftains side.
Tibor Schneider and Danny Hammond both got a brace each and Chelmsford’s other scorers were Grant Bartlett, Michael Ranby and James Ayling. For Streatham Jakub Klima grabbed the only goal.
I thought at times we gave Chelmsford a tough time especially in the second period although as ever they are a handful up front, and tonight was our first experience of a four man system of officiating I believe.
Blaine Evans and his little gang of stripeys didn’t miss much to be fair to them but at one point I did think the game was never going to end. The amount of retaken face-offs and crease infringements at least gave the centre men on both teams extra chances to practice their draws.
If that team of officials had reffed an average Chelmsford v Romford game I suspect Romford would probably be icing Sports Therapist Sam Taylor by the end of the game and the fans would just be getting home from the game in time to watch ‘This Morning’ with Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby the next day.
For anyone wondering how I knew the names of the presenters of This Morning please note I googled it.
Cardiff stunned Wightlink Raiders with two goals in the last minute of the game as they put a massive dent in Jeremy Cornish’s team’s title hopes with a 4-2 win in the Big Blue Tent.
Sean Scarbrough got two goals for Cardiff with Steven Fisher getting the other and then Rupe Quiney got the empty netter at the end. Wightlink’s woes were added to when forward Nathan Taylor was ejected for high sticks.
The result is a big one at the top of the table and was made all the more notable thanks to Romford Raiders holding their nerve at home to Invicta Dynamos.
In a predictably feisty affair the Raiders sealed a 5-3 win thanks to a hat trick from Juraj Huska and a brace from Shaun Yardley. For Invicta it was Jack Tarczycki, Callum Fowler and Justin Noble with the goals.
There was a coming together of Romford’s Billy Phillips and Invicta’s Nathaniel Rose and after both dropped the gloves, they then continued in the penalty box, and were both ejected.
Immediately after the game Invicta announced the following on their website:
“Following on from the incidents in Romford this evening a meeting took place immediately after the game between both team owners and a formal press release will appear on this website tomorrow”
Sadly this article is always completed in the early hours of Sunday morning so fans will have to log on to the Dynamos site on Monday to find out exactly what that is all about.
The big game at the bottom of the table saw Milton Keynes secure a vital 6-3 win over Solent & Gosport at the Thunderdome.
Maksim Petruks scored a brace for the Thunder as did Connor Goode. Greg Randall also scored for MK as did Cameron McGiffin at the tender age of 16.
For the Devils Greg Wyatt, Kev Tanner and Kris Abbott were on target.
The result leaves Solent & Gosport five points adrift at the bottom of the table however they have upcoming matches against Bracknell and Milton Keynes at home that they will be hoping to gain some points from no doubt.
Sunday 30th December 2012
MK Thunder 2-8 Invicta Dynamos
Saturday 5th January 2013
Invicta Dynamos 8-5 Cardiff NIHL Devils
Wightlink Raiders 3-0 MK Thunder (Cup)
Oxford City Stars 1-6 Romford Raiders (Cup)
Bracknell Hornets 1-5 Chelmsford Chieftains
Sunday 6th January 2013
Romford Raiders 5-3 Invicta Dynamos
Milton Keynes Thunder 6-3 Solent & Gosport Devils
Chelmsford Chieftains 7-1 Streatham Redskins
Cardiff Devils 4-2 Wightlink Raiders
To donate to Romford’s David Oliver and Ryan Giles in their good healthy work for Cancer Research please use the following links:
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