LONDON, UK – Invicta and Romford take turns to shine, Streatham get revenge over Solent & Gosport and there are more player departures. Add in a surprise returning goalie and some You Tube highlights and it was another busy week in the NIHL South.
After a previous week that saw Invicta Dynamos take the spotlight thanks to two high profile player departures, this week it was the turn of Romford Raiders to announce a shock departure.
Starting goalie Michael Gray allegedly walked out on the club leaving Shane Kemp as the only senior goalie in the squad for the title run in.
“Now that we have a clearer idea of the extent of some players’ injuries and the intentions of Michael Gray, we are happy to share that information” said a statement on the club website, presumably from manager Mick Cahill.
“Bomber (Andrius Kaminskas) has been absent injured but decided to give it a go last Sunday against Wightlink. Given his performance, I think it’s safe to say that the return was successful and although the injury is far from 100% healed, we expect Bomber to continue his comeback this weekend”
“JJ McGrath’s injury is similar, but slightly worse and the player is unlikely to train much before late March. We hope JJ will be fit for the play-offs”
“All the evidence suggests that Michael has walked out on the club although no reason has been given to Danny or Ollie, or me. We don’t want a player who doesn’t want to be here so we can assume that Michael’s time with the Raiders is over”
“The timing couldn’t be worse. With a signing and transfer deadline of January 31st, our only authorised solution is to use somebody already registered within the wider Romford Club so our options are very limited – but we are working hard behind the scenes to arrange back-up for Kempy”
If you look within the Romford organisation they already have an excellent alternative within the Fury side in former Streatham and Invicta stopper James Tanner should the need arise.
With Kemp more than capable of holding his own between the pipes, attention within the organisation quickly turned towards the weekend fixtures with a crunch cup clash against Invicta scheduled on Saturday and a no less important league fixture the following day.
“They’re both big games and everyone in our team wants to play in every game” said defenseman David Oliver in an interview with the Romford Recorder.
“Every league game is a must win for us now, but we also want to try and progress in the cup. I think Sunday at Invicta will be the hardest away game we’ve got left”
“We have to just keep taking everything step by step, there’s no point looking too far forward. We want to win the cup game on Saturday, but the league game on Sunday is vital if we’re going to keep the pressure on Chelmsford”
Invicta Dynamos were under no illusions that the cup clash on Saturday was a priority for them as they had a real chance of progressing to the final with a positive result. After winning in Rom Valley Way a couple of weeks ago the Mo’s knew that it was not an impossible task that faced them.
“We’re sitting pretty in the cup table and we’ve got to go to Romford, so hopefully we’ll get a win” said Coach Kevin Parrish in an interview with Kent Online.
“If we win we’re through to the final and you’ve got to be in it to win it”
“Against Chelmsford last week, we weren’t outplayed but they took their chances and we didn’t take ours. You’ve got to take your chances when you get them but we were shooting wide and high”
The win for Chelmsford gave the Essex side a real boost and Gary Clarke’s men were still in pole position ahead for the title ahead of the weekend fixtures.
One team that now appear to be facing an uphill battle to win the title are the Wightlink Raiders who disappointingly gave up a lead in Romford over the previous weekend to then lose a vital game in Rom Valley Way.
“I’m not sure what it is about this group, but we struggle to play with a lead. Romford couldn’t skate with us for the first half of the game and it showed with us jumping out to a 3-0 lead” said Coach Jeremy Cornish in his Coaches Corner on the Wightlink website.
“We set out a game plan to come out hard and get pucks deep and work their defence and it worked, but for some reason when they got a goal to make it 3-1, our heads sank and were defeated”
“I’ve always said that when teams give up leads and end up losing, it’s a sign of a lack of maturity, I just didn’t think I would see our team doing it so late in the season”
In Cardiff there were glowing words of praise for NIHL Coach Mark Cuddihy as no less than eight of his side were called up to the Elite League side for the trip to Belfast last weekend.
“Mark Cuddihy has been outstanding at leading our NIHL programme and during his time at the helm with the Cardiff Devils’ NIHL team he has also helped to support and develop the likes of Ben Davies into a future GB Senior International” said Devils MD Brent Pope in an interview with the excellent Inferno website.
“There is a long list of players that have come through our system and I would like to acknowledge the skill, talent and commitment of all of our DCF Coaches and Managers for the contribution they make to preparing our players to compete at the top level”
The eight former or present NIHL players included Ben Davies, Luke Piggott, Adam Harding, Chris Jones, Rupert Quiney, Chris Hart, Steve Osman and Callum Buglass.
All of those listed have their own stories but Osman’s in particular takes some beating. Just a few years ago he was playing recreational hockey and then was picked up by Bristol Coach Richie Hargreaves and really came into his own in the last couple of seasons.
He then leaves Bristol (marrying Hargreaves sister Becci in the process) and steps up to the plate in Cardiff under Cuddihy and now gets a shot at the big league.
Step forward Ang Lee, this could be a movie in the making. Having said that; the Life of Pi director may have trouble recreating the Frogmore Street rink in ‘glorious’ 3D.
An interesting documentary appeared on YouTube during the week featuring the bottom placed Solent & Gosport Devils.
Amongst many amusing points within the five minute clip was a sound bite with a visiting Chelmsford fan.
“The guys that play this game are not sissies” said the replica jersey clad spectator in a broad Scottish accent.
“The average footballer gets touched and rolls over crying to his mummy, these guys batter the crap out of each other with sticks and it doesn’t bother them”
Whilst that may be over egging the pudding and also begs the question of whether this is the first Scotsman to ever use the word ‘mummy’, there was a stark reminder of the fragility of the human body and the dangers of hockey.
Swiss player Ronny Keller was reportedly left permanently paralysed after a dangerous hit that saw him steam head first into the boards.
Debates raged as to whether Keller was to blame for slowing down as he approached the boards but I think most hockey players from junior level upwards should all take a look at that hit and digest the fact that this is a guy who apparently will never walk again.
I have seen worse hits than this take place within the NIHL this season and the perpetrators are often defended by their own fans and coaching staff. We all have responsibilities as players to ensure that we avoid dangerous play and whilst accidents can sadly happen, hopefully this can act as a wake up call.
You Tube also saw more NIHL action uploaded as ‘For the Fans’ TV made its introduction to the internet to critical acclaim. Seemingly a production of the Milton Keynes Thunder, the latest edition featured forwards Martyn Snape and Harrison Goode presenting the show from the Wightlink ferry on the way to their game on the island.
The quality and content was naturally rather suspect as is befitting any video piece involving British hockey players, however as this involved a team that previously created a rock band called Blood Fire and Death, it really did plummet standards of broadcasting to low if somewhat amusing depths.
On a final note congratulations go to Romford defenseman Jason Buckman who entered the history books as he matched Rob Stewarts record, thanks to six assists against Peterborough Islanders.
Invicta Dynamos hopes of silverware in the cup were shot down in flames by Romford as the Raiders thumped them 9-3.
In a surprisingly one sided affair, Romford’s goals came from Juraj Huska, Matt Turner and AJ Smith all with hat tricks. Invicta goals came from a brace by Andy Smith and a goal from Justin Noble.
Nathaniel Rose and Andrius Kaminskas both dropped the gloves and ended up taking an early shower and there was an unsavoury crowd incident that may grab the headlines in the days to come but is too unsavoury to speculate on at the time of writing.
In the league there was even better news for Romford as their nearest and dearest rivals went down 6-3 on the Isle of Wight.
The Wightlink Raiders showing that they are still not dead and buried in the title race with a vital two points earned thanks to goals from Alex Murray with two and one each from Craig Tribe, Richard Facey, Jeremy Cornish and James Smith.
Chelmsford scorers were Danny Hammond with a brace and Grant Bartlett with the other.
After a less than inspiring performance the evening before, Invicta turned in a real Jekyll and Hyde performance as they stunned Romford with a 7-3 win in front of a delighted Silverblades crowd.
Peter Vaisanen and Andy Smith led the scoring for the Mo’s with two goals each, to add to efforts from Tyrone Miller, Nicky Lewis and Callum Fowler.
AJ Smith, Matt Turner and Shaun Yardley were all on target for Romford.
The game was notable for the return of goalie Andy Moffat between the pipes for the Mo’s which asks a few questions as to how the team will operate until the end of the season in the goaltending department.
With the French Navy randomly spending the weekend doing military manoeuvres in Gosport over the weekend, the resident Solent & Gosport Devils could ill afford to be distracted in what was pretty much a must win game against Streatham Redskins.
The last time Streatham visited we lost so it was pleasing on a number of levels to skate off this time with a 10-5 win.
Jakub Klima hit a hat trick for Streatham with Dom Hopkins getting two goals. Other scorers were Joe Johnston, Michal Oravec, Liam Rasmussen, Stewart Tait and Joe Allen.
For the Devils Greg Wyatt scored two with Mitchell Murray, Gyorgy Kovacs and George Norcliffe also on target.
Jamie McIlroy and Kev Tanner dropped the gloves after clashing earlier in the game and both were ejected by referee Matthews midway through the third period.
Redskins’ defenseman Phil Manny clashed with Kris Abbott and then Andrew Goddard towards the end of the game as tempers flared but Matthews managed to keep a lid on things boiling over.
Chelmsford took full advantage of Romford’s slip up as they beat Bracknell Hornets 8-1 at the Riverside.
Gary Clarke scored a hat trick for the Chieftains with Tibor Schneider, Michael Ranby, Cameron Bartlett, Danny Hammond and Tom Castle all on target with one goal each. Bracknell’s lone goal came from Carl Thompson.
Milton Keynes Thunder gave Wightlink a scare at the Thunderdome despite the visitors winning 4-2.
In a game that was delayed for thirty minutes due to Raiders forward James Smith needing medical treatment in the first period, Wightlink won thanks to goals from Robbie Brown with a brace and one each for Richard Facey and Jeremy Cornish.
Thunders goals came from Tom Mboya and Maksims Petruks.
The results leave Chelmsford top of the pile but something suggests that Wightlink and Romford will both feel they still have a chance. At the bottom Solent & Gosport now need to win in Cardiff next weekend otherwise they will face relegation.
The new look Pro Hockey News site allows more interaction than the old platform so why not register and post comments underneath the article. This week why not nominate your performance of the week. It could be a player, a team, a referee or a coach, in fact anyone involved in NIHL South this weekend.
My personal opinion would be to offer it to Invicta goalie Andy Moffat. To come back after so long out and help his side beat Romford in a high pressure game takes some doing, but if you can think of a better choice feel free…
Saturday 9 March 2013
Wightlink Raiders 6-3 Chelmsford Chieftains
Romford Raiders 9-3 Invicta Dynamos (Cup)
Sunday 10 March 2013
Solent & Gosport Devils 5-10 Streatham Redskins
Invicta Dynamos 7-3 Romford Raiders
Chelmsford Chieftains 8-1 Bracknell Hornets
Milton Keynes Thunder 2-4 Wightlink Raiders
To see the full league table please visit the link below:
To see the documentary about Solent & Gosport Devils please use the link below:
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