LONDON, UK – Valentine’s Day and Pancake Day failed to stop the players of the NIHL South preparing for yet another weekend of UK hockey action. For some players in Cardiff this action came earlier than originally scheduled.
Cardiff ice hockey club showed once again how strong its development is as the Elite League side called up teenager Callum Buglass and Chris Jones from the NIHL side to play a midweek fixture against Sheffield Steelers.
Much like the story of one of Cardiff’s most famous sons of recent years, GB goalie Stevie Lyle, the chance for these players came as a result of injuries to regular Elite players.
It is sad in one respect that it takes such circumstances for players like this to get a shot in the UK’s top league but the situation is what it is, and one person who took full advantage of his call up was former Streatham Redskins player Rupe Quiney who scored his first Elite League goal.
Obviously on a personal note it was great to see my former Streatham team mate get on the score sheet and hopefully he can push on and cement his place in the Elite side on a full time basis. His father Pete Quiney is a Streatham legend and if Rupe can get anywhere near his old man then that will not be a shabby hockey career by any stretch of the imagination.
Whilst all the news out of Cardiff’s NIHL team was positive, just over 170 miles east of the Welsh capital in Romford, things were not looking so rosy.
Pro Hockey News reported a couple of weeks ago that Romford Ice Rink was confirmed as closing this April, and a new facility is not scheduled to be built for a number of years.
There was a sudden media interest this week as local skating groups and the junior ice hockey club ramped up their campaign to get the local council to fund a temporary rink in the interim period between the current rink closing and a new permanent one being built.
The campaign did well as the matter was highlighted on ITV London Tonight amongst other news outlets. Comparisons drawn with Streatham’s temporary rink in Brixton were made but as ever, the devil is in the detail.
The two situations have one thing in common, as both have large supermarket chains buying the sites of the original ice rinks but in Streatham’s case, Tesco had to provide continuous ice provision as part of the contract drawn up with Lambeth Council to build on the land.
It must be assumed that Havering Council did not put in such a clause when it sold the Rom Valley Way site to Morrisons and hence there will be no such funding for a temporary facility to replace it.
This was confirmed in a piece in the local press during the week.
“If the skating clubs and other rink users are able to put together a viable business plan to manage a temporary rink, we will provide a site and a building” said Leader of Havering Council, Cllr Michael White.
“We’re already looking at potential sites in and around Romford and we’re very happy to talk”
By viable business plan, the councillor refers to an estimated £1.2 million operating cost, which puts into perspective the magnitude of the task facing the campaigners.
Bracknell Hornets had a disruption to their training at the start of the week as a gas leak at the Hive cancelled one of their sessions.
In years gone by this would be an excuse for this column to make a lame joke about Hornets’ defence man Luke Reynolds eating too many beans but these days I try to keep things professional, so no Blazing Saddles references this time.
“Romford were my tip for the title at the beginning of the season and I still think that they have the quality within their ranks to win it” said Hornets manager Bill Webb ahead of his sides clash with the Raiders.
“Despite a recent drop in form which has seen them uncharacteristically drop four of their last six games, I expect them to be very focused this weekend and I’m sure that Coach Danny Marshall will want them to build a run to the end of the season”
In Streatham it was team photo night and it is fair to say that with the exception of Russian rocket Gennadi Yufit and skinhead Stewart Tait, the whole team made extra special effort with their hair.
Leading the charge was our Czech star Jakub Klima who appeared to have plonked half a tub of Brylcreem onto his hair in advance.
The picture turned out in the same way many hockey teams across the land will be familiar with. With players laughing, scowling, shutting their eyes or in our goalie Will Sanderson’s case, looking the wrong way whilst laughing at some comment made along his row.
By contrast, his fellow stopper Stefan Nubert and Scottish forward Jamie McIlroy both looked like they were ready to knock someone out such was the intensity in their stares.
The weekend fixture list was reduced early on as the cup match between Peterborough Islanders and Invicta Dynamos was cancelled and awarded 5-0 to Invicta. I believe this is the first 5-0 awarded game of the season so far, which is a shame to be honest.
Wightlink Raiders Player Coach Jeremy Cornish was less than impressed after the visit of Solent & Gosport Devils the previous weekend.
“The Devils travelled across the Solent and even though they had given some teams a tough time in recent weeks it looks like they have really hit a low spot” said Cornish in his Coaches Corner on the Raiders website.
“We got out to an early lead and never looked back. I really do like the aspect of having promotion and relegation in our league, but if teams can’t come up to our league and compete I don’t see reason why we bother”
There is no doubt that the gap between the two leagues is a big one. It isn’t really the one off games you have to look at but more the consistency over a 40 odd game season and the commitment involved.
Looking at NIHL 2 and the teams that could possibly come up I really can’t see any of them fancying promotion at present. Oxford know how tough it is and seem to be building crowds and developing their local talent, Peterborough are similar and of course Wightlink Tigers would have obvious issues.
Things change pretty quickly in hockey though so who knows what could happen in 2013/14.
Bruise of the week appears to be making a real comeback and this time round it was tough to choose a winner.
Stewart Tait cut open his face and bruised both eyes on Tuesday training thanks to an encounter with the frame of former Redskins blue liner Josh Allam but Chelmsford forward Ross Brears received bruises of epic proportions on his legs after taking two slapshots to the thigh in separate incidents.
Romford Raiders avoided a potential banana skin at Bracknell Hornets as they ground out a 4-2 win at the Hive. With the gas leak fixed, both sides played a closely fought game before Romford took two valuable points.
Andrius Kaminskas, Billy Phillips, Frankie Harvey and Juraj Huska were on target for Romford, whilst Bracknell’s goals came from Ryan Webb and Matt Jordan.
The result was all the more impressive for the visitors considering the Hornets turned them over in Rom Valley Way not so long ago.
Streatham travelled to the Isle of Wight to take on Wightlink Raiders in the cup and took some juniors along to gain some valuable experience of senior hockey. Youngster Daniel Clayton and brothers Will and Tom Poles all got plenty of ice time for the Skins, whilst Raiders Coach Cornish gave his own youngsters Joe Denness and Aiden Doughty plenty of game time.
Both back up goalies both got a chance in between the pipes with Stefan Nubert and Dan Weller Evans both starting.
A 9-5 win for the home side came courtesy of goals from Jiri Hanzal and Craig Tribe with a brace each, and lone goals for Kieran Annis, Richard Facey, Sam Waller and Nick Compton.
Streatham scorers were Michal Oravec and Dom Hopkins with two each and Liam Rasmussen with the other.
Rasmussen also saw a penalty shot saved and Annis got kicked out after jumping Oravec midway through the second period.
On a personal note it was great to see some familiar faces in the bar after the game, not least former Sunderland Chiefs and Isle of Wight Raiders forward Paul Sanderson. When I was a kid playing at Sunderland, Sandy was the star player for the senior side and it is funny that nearly 18 years later we should be chatting in an ice rink bar at the other end of the country.
The Island has seen a number of North East boys play there over the years and it is good that former Whitley Bay winger Nathan Taylor and Sunderland defenseman Dan Pye continue that tradition.
Invicta Dynamos finally clicked into gear after a torrid few weeks as they stunned Romford 7-5 at Rom Valley Way, in a result that dents the Raiders title hopes.
Callum Fowler led the charge for the Mo’s with four goals and Justin Noble got a brace with Peter Vaisanen also on target.
For Romford Danny Marshall got two goals with Jason Buckman , Matt Turner and Billy Phillips also on target.
The win for the Dynamos presents not only an upset for the title challenging Raiders but also a huge confidence boost for Invicta ahead of the Play Offs knowing that they can get a win in Romford.
Chelmsford secured a straight forward win over bottom side Solent & Gosport with a 12-0 win at the Riverside.
Tibor Schneider and Gary Clarke both scored two goals each for the Chieftains with Michael Ranby, Grant Bartlett, Cameron Bartlett, Ross Brears, Sean Easton, Danny Hammond and Julius Sinkovic all on target.
Streatham travelled up to MK Thunder for another dead rubber cup game and rolled four lines throughout, with the youngster given their second chance of the weekend to shine.
With Joe Johnston absent I was handed the Captaincy for this game and I always take immense pride when asked to do this for a club like Streatham.
The game ended as a 4-4 draw which was perhaps fair given the chances created at both ends.
For Streatham Jakub Klima hit a hat trick with Chris Rasmussen getting the other goal. Milton Keynes goals came from man of the match Simon Howard, Tom Mboya, Nidal Phillips and Mark Turner.
So with the league title race still a three way battle between Chelmsford, Romford and Wightlink, it appears that the rest of the league are simply trying to build momentum for the Play-Offs.
There are only six weeks of regular season hockey remaining and no one can guess where the title is going, the relegation place is certainly not yet decided and all the mid table teams appear to have quality within them to upset anyone on their day.
The NIHL South is ready for the home strait and it is hard not get excited about that right now.
Saturday 16 February 2013
Wightlink Raiders 9-5 Streatham Redskins (Cup)
Bracknell Hornets 2-4 Romford Raiders
Peterborough Islanders 0-5 Invicta Dynamos (Cup – Forfeit)
Sunday 17 February 2013
Milton Keynes Thunder 4-4 Streatham Redskins (Cup)
Romford Raiders 5-7 Invicta Dynamos
Chelmsford Chieftains 12-0 Solent & Gosport Devils
To see the full league table please visit the link below:
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