LONDON, UK – Romford Raiders get a much needed four point weekend, there is spectacular bruising in Chelmsford and a husky runs on to the ice in Cardiff.
With the league title race down to three teams a Saturday game on the Isle of Wight between two of the challengers was the game everyone was looking forward to during the week.
Wightlink’s opponents Romford Raiders were still smarting after dropping points at home to Invicta in a shock result at Rom Valley Way after beating Bracknell the evening before.
“They were two entirely different games” said defenseman David Oliver in an interview with the Romford Recorder.
“Saturday was a huge win. Bracknell are a bit of a bogey team for us, they’re well organised and they’ve got kids that skate really hard against you all game”
“Sunday was hard to take. We started really sharp and got an early goal. As the game went on I couldn’t really see where we were going wrong. We let in some sloppy goals and it was really hard to come back from that”
Whilst Romford fans were in shock at their team losing to a Dynamos side they had comfortably beaten in Kent a couple of months ago in the league and also despatched on home ice in early January, Invicta coach Kevin Parrish was suitably pleased.
“As much as it was good to get the win, it was still frustrating. It sums up how inconsistent we have been” said Parrish in an interview with kentonline.co.uk
“One week we are superb and the next week we are the worst of the worst. We have dropped points where we shouldn’t have, like the games at Streatham and it shows how inconsistent we have been”
The result had moved the fifth placed Mo’s to just one point behind fourth placed Cardiff with both sides looking likely to be Play-Off opponents even at this stage.
The craze that has swept the world, namely the Harlem Shake was also a focus for some teams most notably Telford Titans in the North and of course Cardiff NIHL Devils in the South.
Obviously the dancing has gained more critics as its popularity has grown but it is all a bit of fun and Cardiff’s effort was all the more impressive as they managed to draft in a real life husky to trot around the ice whilst the whole squad danced to the beat.
Long-time readers will recognise the canine as Zeus, the beautiful husky of Devils forward Alan Armour who is no stranger to ice rinks having been a semi regular fixture at Bristol, while his master was playing for the Pitbulls.
A link to the You Tube video of the Cardiff Harlem Shake is available at the bottom of the round-up.
There is nothing more British than a dog walking around an ice rink and most players in this country will tell you of parents and fans bringing their four legged friends to junior and senior games and some rinks even having resident dogs.
When I played at Oxford I would often bring my Jack Russell Eva to training and she would sit chewing on her toys or sleep in her basket in the bar overlooking the rink.
As we headed to the play offs, our coach at the time Darryl Morvan called a tactics session in the function room before training. I arrived and took my seat at the back amongst all the boys and let Eva off the lead and she strolled around sniffing and enjoying the attention whilst Darryl went through his notes.
Just as he was getting to the crux of the meeting Eva trotted right up to where he was standing and looked at him, then looked at all the team and then squatted down with that knowing look on her face, before unleashing her own thoughts on the proceedings.
Thankfully Darryl is a dog lover himself and didn’t react to angrily to the steaming article now sitting between the board showing his breakouts and those he wanted to execute them.
Another piece of good news out of Gillingham was the fact that veteran Grant Baxter celebrated his 36th birthday. Baxter has played every season for the Dynamos since 2003 with the exception of a spell in Romford in 2010/11, so let’s hope he gets a well-deserved testimonial later this year.
It is funny how time flies in hockey and a look at that Dynamos roster in 2003 reveals only Baxter and defenceman Adam Copland still playing for the Kent side, although current coach Kevin Parrish was still playing on the blue line.
Invicta’s title rivals that year were Oxford and only myself and Matt Roberts from that team (now at MK Thunder) are still playing at this level. None of the Bracknell Hornets side of that year are still playing in NIHL 1 and of the Thunder team that season only Paul Gore, Mark Woolf and Sam Fairhurst are still lacing them up in Milton Keynes.
Any stattos who disagree send your corrections to the usual address.
Streatham Redskins Captain Joe Johnston looked forward to getting back on the ice after a weekend off as he missed the road games to Wightlink and Milton Keynes in the cup.
“At this stage of the season it’s all about momentum and taking things forward in to the Play-Off run’ said Johnston in his Captains Log in the matchday programme for the Wightlink home game.
“The cup games are almost over so it’s important we throw all our energy at the remaining fixtures we have left. There’s not too long to go in the season so it’s all building up to a frantic finale”
“We’re one of the form teams at the moment and fear nobody so come the Play-Offs we could spring a big upset”
The league form table does make interesting reading on the EIHA website with Chelmsford top thanks to five league wins in their last five games with Romford second and surprisingly Streatham in third with four wins in the last five.
The same match night programme also carried an interview with rookie Eddie Temple who admitted his pre match routine consisted of:
“Half a dozen visits to the toilet, a can of monster, light warm up and reading Warrens notes”
Speaking of the flame haired rookie, due to a lack of any bruises submitted to the weekly ‘Pro Hockey News Bruise of the week’ competition it had been decided to fill the photo frame with another award instead – Worst outfit at training in the NIHL.
At the last minute we received a picture of Chelmsford’s Scot Mike Mckay’s bruised finger but decided to keep both features in. The nasty injury was not hockey related but as a result of him closing the car door on his digit. Hockey players eh?
It must have been a nervy crossing for the Romford Raiders as they headed to Wightlink missing a number of key players including import Andrius Kaminskas.
A niggly game on the small ice pad saw the visitors skate off with a much needed 3-1 win, thanks in part to a solid netminding display by Shane Kemp who turned away 42 shots during the game.
Juraj Huska stepped up to the plate with two goals for Romford with AJ Smith getting the other. Wightlink’s lone goal came from Captain Damon Larter.
A few roughing calls towards the end of the game for Wightlink’s Alex Murray and Richard Facey, along with their opposite numbers Shaun Yardley and Grant Taylor suggests tempers frayed as the final buzzer approached, but Romford will be delighted to come away with the points.
In Bracknell, MK Thunder had the chance to create more space between themselves and bottom placed side Solent & Gosport Devils, after tying with Streatham in the cup the previous weekend.
MK could not build on that momentum and the Hornets took a fairly routine 5-0 win at the Hive.
Danny Hughes scored two for Bracknell with Ryan Webb, Harvey Stead and Carl Thompson all on target with one each.
Youngster Ben Paynter continued to show the other side to his game as he dropped the gloves with Thunder forward Joe Day, to provide further talking points to the game.
On the South Coast Solent & Gosport Devils hosted Invicta Dynamos.
The visitors won 4-1 thanks to a brace from Peter Vaisanen and a goal each from Nathaniel Rose and Andy Smith. Forward Anthony Leone got an early shower after being kicked out.
Kris Abbott got the goal for the Devils but the real star for the home side was goalie Chico Cole who faced 84 shots during a game in which his opposite number David Wride faced just over half that amount.
Wightlink bounced back from the disappointment of Sunday with a clinical 6-0 defeat of Streatham in Brixton, despite missing Jiri Hanzal through injury.
In what was a meaningless cup match, both teams played hard hockey throughout with the score balanced at just 1-0 going into the third. Sadly we switched off in the final period and Wightlink showed no mercy in front of goal.
Richard Facey scored two for Wightlink with Corey Watkins, Nathan Taylor, James Smith and Jeremy Cornish also on target.
The real hero for Wightlink was back-up goalie Dan Weller Evans who turned away 33 shots for his shut out.
Chelmsford made light work of MK Thunder at the Riverside in the league with an 8-2 victory.
Michael Ranby top scored for Chelmsford with four goals whilst Julius Sinkovic and Gary Clarke scored two each. Matt Roberts and Maksims Petruks were on target for Milton Keynes.
Invicta edged out Bracknell Hornets in Kent with a 5-4 win to put them above Cardiff and into fourth place.
Andy Smith scored two for the Dynamos with Tim Smith, Justin Noble and Peter Vaisanen getting the other goals.
Bracknell scorers were Carl Thompson, Nick Minhinnick, Mike Plenty and Ryan Webb.
Romford survived a scared from Cardiff in Rom Valley Way as they bounced back from 3-2 down at one stage to make it a four point weekend.
A hat trick each for Matt Turner did the damage for the Raiders with Danny Marshall and Juraj Huska also scoring two. Shaun Yardley got the other for Romford.
For Cardiff Steven Osman, Ricky Deacon and Joe Morris were on target.
The results leave Romford and Chelmsford tied at the top on forty points but with the Chieftains still holding two games in hand. Wightlink sit just behind with a three point gap, but also have two games in hand over Romford.
Next week will see Wightlink travel to Romford whilst Chelmsford have a potential banana skin as the unpredictable Invicta Dynamos come to town.
Saturday 23 February 2013
Wightlink Raiders 1-3 Romford Raiders
Bracknell Hornets 5-0 Milton Keynes Thunder
Solent & Gosport Devils 1-4 Invicta Dynamos
Sunday 24 February 2013
Streatham Redskins 0-6 Wightlink Raiders (Cup)
Romford Raiders Cardiff NIHL Devils
Invicta Dynamos 5-4 Bracknell Hornets
Chelmsford Chieftains 8-2 Milton Keynes Thunder
To see the full league table please visit the link below:
To see the Cardiff Harlem Shake visit the link below:
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