Twitter controversy and island dreams Week 7 of the NIHL South is not short of talking points.

LONDON, UK – There was hardly time to breathe this week in the NIHL South as players got naked, banned and caught up in a social media outrage all in the space of seven days.

Good morning Oxford City Stars

Good morning Oxford City Stars left to right Alan Green, James Skaife, Darren Elliott and James Clarke

After earning rave reviews for his start to the season, Invicta agitator Alan Lack popped up on Twitter on Tuesday night to announce he was leaving the club. Dynamos fans woke up the following morning to see that this was not a late night joke on social media as the Kent based club issued a press release confirming the departure.

“When Alan joined us in the summer it made a move further south necessary and he has struggled to settle here since switching Berkshire for Kent” said Coach Kevin Parrish, who is now looking at his second departure from the squad in the space of a month.

“After relocating he has found it difficult to find a new job and ultimately he has decided that he now wants to return home for off-ice reasons”

When Barker met Merritt

When Barker met Merritt

“Ultimately it’s disappointing to lose a player of Alan’s abilities, especially so early in the season when the team is showing signs of gelling and reaching their peak”

“However these things happen in hockey and we must now wish Alan well for the future, thank him for his efforts in a Dynamos jersey and look to move forward with the rest of the team”

“We still have a very strong side here at the club who have become a tight knit group and we all go into this weekend’s games looking forward to the challenge of overcoming the Wightlink Raiders”

Lack’s role on a Mo’s team full of flair could be a real gap for Parrish to fill, and it will be very interesting to see where the former Bracknell man ends up next.

Wightlink prepared for the weekend by announcing an appeal for donations to a ‘food bank night’ to coincide with the visit of the Dynamos.

Fans were urged to bring along tinned goods, cereals and dried goods to help the local charity that reportedly helps feed 120 people on the island each week.

Bruise of the week

Bruise of the week

The Raiders fans are notable for their assistance to the needy as for a number of years they delivered plated dinners to the team house for the resident hockey players who struggled to boil an egg between them.

Other news from the island included the continued output of Wightlink Raiders TV whose presenter Matt Merritt battled in vain to get some decent sound bites out of goal machine Alex Barker following the Chelmsford game last week.

Barker, inexplicably sporting team mate Nick Compton’s jersey (perhaps an ‘in-joke’), appeared either struck with nerves or bored to tears whilst the amiable Merritt tried his best to get a dialogue going.

Barker clearly does his talking on the ice and with 8 goals and 4 assists so far already this year, Wightlink fans will be very pleased with that.

Speaking of the bearded man (Merritt not Wightlink Coach Jeremy Cornish), new NIHL focused blog Freezing the Puck continued to churn out player interviews at a rate of knots this week with London Raiders trio Euan King, Shaun Yardley and AJ Smith all coming under the spotlight.

Stevens departs

Stevens departs

One of the highlights was a picture of Streatham’s Dom Hopkins flinching at a Yardley slapshot in a photo embedded within the former Peterborough man’s question and answer session. The amount of people who pull a similar pose every week when Hopkins winds up on the blue line is usually quite high.

Oxford City Stars continued to ramp up their marketing as they followed up the photo-shoot of defenseman Andy Cox behind bars in Oxford Castle with a quite frankly disturbing media release announcing their sponsorship link up with Abingdon Bathrooms and Kitchens.

“We were visiting the rink skating recently and were recommended to go” said the firms MD Paul Lynch.

“We had a look and have been hooked since. We’ve always supported local boys and rugby teams, we like to do things for the local community, we’re a local business and it’s good to support local teams”

Players will be hoping that the sponsors not only pump in the promised funding but also take a look at the showers in Oxford ice rink that rarely produce water over 5 degrees Celsius.

To add to the Oxford theme this week we can also reveal the winner of this week’s bruise of the week as City Stars forward Joe Oliver whose elbow looks like it was hit by a train.

Streatham had some bad news as popular long serving forward Russ Stevens announced he was hanging up his skates indefinitely to concentrate on personal issues. Rusty is one of the hardest working players in the league and had been impressive in recent weeks on the Redskins checking line alongside Jamie McIlroy and Evander Grinnell.

Twitter Gate for Pitch

Twitter Gate for Pitch

Also making the news in South London was Redskins manager Graham D’Anger who gave an interview to the Streatham Guardian regarding the upcoming move to the new rink.

“We are a Streatham team so, no disrespect to Brixton but it’s not home as such so we are very much looking forward to having a Streatham rink again” said D’Anger who is also a keen Buffalo Sabres fan.

“The new rink is going to be one of the best in the South East of England and will accommodate 1000 spectators”

If Streatham can attract anywhere near that number of fans it really will be party time in SW16.

Other facilities at the new centre financed by Tesco and Lambeth Council include a six-lane 25-metre swimming pool, a four court sports hall, a 13-metre teaching pool, and a gym.

Fans of Chelmsford and Romford took to the online forums and social media during the week to pick apart the aftermath of their sides mass brawl on Sunday. By Wednesday Chelmsford had a new Facebook page (after recriminations posted on their old one) and both sets of supporters waded in on each other on the popular The Hockey Forum.

They may well be heated occasions but these games certainly provide plenty of talking points if nothing else and the passionate Essex derby is still alive and well.

The MK Ice project continues to progress with the hardy bunch of volunteers all pitching in to help out. Last week’s volunteer schedule featured less glamorous tasks such as ‘Rubbing down and preparing for painting’ and everyone’s number one DIY nightmare (after wallpapering) ‘Glossing door frames and doors’.

week7tIt just goes to show that when people work together for a common aim they can achieve so much and it also makes you wonder why in UK hockey, this local attitude never seemingly flourishes to a national level and why groups and individuals tend to work against each other in preference.

One welcome piece of news is that the Ice Hockey Annual returns this year with another cracking review of the season past. This little book is essential for any hockey fan and is now in its 38th year which is a superb achievement by the editor Stewart Roberts.

It features all levels of hockey in the UK and has an NIHL South review of the season crafted by the hand of the author of this column, so if you want a stocking filler for Christmas (if you need to know how long away that is just add Solent & Gosport forward Adam Rich on Facebook) make sure you order one HERE

Regular readers may be sick of hearing about weddings and those of you who are married may be thinking ‘not another sucker’, but following on from the marriages of London Raiders forward Andrius Kaminskas and referee Joy Tottman in recent weeks, we are delighted to announce that Cardiff NIHL Devils forward Alan Armour tied the knot with Sabrina Perryman on Friday.

Pro Hockey News failed to receive an invite and have lodged a complaint with Royal Mail as we can only guess it was lost/stolen in transit, however we are still happy enough to wish them both a long and fruitful union (as long as she doesn’t stop him playing hockey).

Saturday Round-up

No one had to wait until Sunday for controversy this week as Saturday began with a bang thanks to Twitter, a suspended Coach and then the most decisive and speedy EIHA decision seen for a number of years, possibly ever.

The drama began when London Raiders teenager JJ Pitchley tweeted that he had ‘taken one for the team’ last weekend which could have suggested that he stayed off the ice injured to ensure Chelmsford Player Coach Gary Clarke got an early shower with a match penalty for spearing.

Bracknell v Chelmsford  (Kevin Slyfield)

Bracknell v Chelmsford (Kevin Slyfield)

Chelmsford presumably made a complaint to the EIHA on Saturday morning (after seeing the offending tweet) and the governing body took the unusual step of stepping away from the rule book in the traditional sense and used a ‘Bringing the game into disrepute” charge to ban Pitchley for two games and rescind Clarke’s ban.

More may come out next week as to the finer detail however the key points to note are that Pitchley travelled to Cardiff only to be hauled off during the warm up and told he was banned, Clarke got his kit delivered to Bracknell at short notice and iced from the second period onwards, and most importantly the moral of the story is be careful what you put on social media.

London were already short as they felt the full effect of the raft of suspensions from last week and Cardiff took full advantage with a 4-1 win in Wales.

It was a massive result for Cardiff who have had a tough time of late, but goals from Kieran Latchford, Owen Griffiths, Rob Sedlak and Chris Hart sealed the win for the Devils.

Pitchley’s tweet was rather ambiguous if truth be told and could be interpreted a couple of ways however he released a statement the following morning that read:

“Would like to take the time right now to apologize to anyone in my family & the hockey world who I embarrassed this weekend with the actions of a tweet I made publicly yesterday morning”

“I had no intentions of making it come across like I took a dive & went out the game to get Gary banned, I genuinely did sustain an injury in that incident last Sunday in Chelmsford. Were the outcome was a tear in my right calf in two places”

“The tweet was put across as I ‘took one for the team’ meaning I would have been no use on the Ice with my injury so I did not return to the game, not the way people have read it. I would never purposely ‘cheat’ as many are saying or stay off the ice to get someone a longer ban, because that is a very low approach to any sport especially one that I love to play”

Big win for Cardiff (Tim Bowers)

Big win for Cardiff (Tim Bowers)

“I am not that kind of player, I love the game of hockey & play with my heart on my sleeves every game .Sometimes that means through aches & pains. In Sunday’s case last week it was a more severe injury & I was unable to continue because I couldn’t put pressure on my right leg”

“At this time my twitter account & Facebook account have been made private & I will be a lot more cautious with the way I word things & messages on social media sites”

In fairness to the EIHA, they have sent reminders out regarding social media policy and players and staff just need to be a little careful what they write on the internet. The governing body do not have the manpower to trawl through Twitter and Facebook but other teams can always take screenshots and send them on if evidence is needed.

Back to the hockey and there was no one with a wider smile on the Isle of Wight on Saturday than Invicta Dynamos Coach Kevin Parrish.

Well perhaps only one other person and that being Dynamos forward Juraj Huska who sniped four goals in his team’s impressive 7-1 road win over Wightlink Raiders in the cup. Also on target were Adam McNicoll, Jakub Klima and Callum Fowler. Kieran Annis was on target for Wightlink.

Chelmsford benefitted from the return of Luke Brittle and of course Gary Clarke as they avoided a potential banana skin in Bracknell with a 5-2 win.

Unsung hero Darren Brown hit a hat trick for the visitors with Clarke and Cameron Bartlett also on target. Bracknell goals came from Danny Hughes with a show reel effort and Ryan Webb.

Sunday Round-up

Invicta made it a double winning weekend as they beat Wightlink in a South East Trophy game in Kent. The trophy is a separate cup competition involving London, Wightlink, Chelmsford and Invicta and runs alongside the NIHL Cup and league competition.

Solent goal under pressure (Ian Snoding)

Solent goal under pressure (Ian Snoding)

An 8-3 win for the Mo’s came thanks to a hat trick from Andy Smith, a brace from Danny Hammond and lone goals from Jakub Klima, Shaun Wild and Callum Fowler. For Wightlink Kieran Annis got his second goal of the weekend and both Craig Tribe and Steven Osman were also on target.

Chelmsford moved to the top of the league as they beat Solent & Gosport Devils 4-0 at the Riverside. Two goals for John Connolly and efforts from James Ayling and Ross Brears secured the points with Ben Clements getting the shut out.

Fans at Lee Valley Ice Centre were left waiting till late to watch the clash between London Raiders and Streatham Redskins after a junior game beforehand overran.

It was a long night for all concerned as these two evenly matched teams did battle in front of those fans that hadn’t already gone to bed.

Sean Scarbrough put Streatham into the lead with a lovely tip on a Jack Tarczycki slapshot, but a powerplay effort from JJ McGrath and a bullet of a slapshot from Billy Phillips gave the Raiders a 2-1 win.

Phillips had earlier jumped on Scarbrough after the American sprayed goalie Euan King with ice, to give the crowd something else to cheer and also official Blaine Evans another call to make.

The star of the show however was the rugged bulk of Raiders defenceman Dwayne Newman who shored up the back line, blocked shots and basically made the difference all evening.

Some fans probably do not appreciate this kind of player, however Newman is a real team guy and offers so much unseen benefits to a team like London in their current guise.

Results

Saturday 19th October 2013

Bracknell Hornets 2-5 Chelmsford Chieftains

Cardiff NIHL Devils 4-1 London Raiders

Wightlink Raiders 1-7 Invicta Dynamos (Cup)

Sunday 20th October 2013

Chelmsford Chieftains 4-0 Solent & Gosport Devils

London Raiders 2-1 Streatham Redskins

Invicta Dynamos 8-3 Wightlink Raiders (South East Trophy)

League Table courtesy of the EIHA.
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Contact the author david.carr@prohockeynews.com

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