The following story was on the front page of the Leeds edition of the Yorkshire Evening Post on Saturday 28 December. It is the lead story in a prominent position at the top of the page. The headline is UNITED SWOOP FOR ICE STADIUM DEAL with a sub-headline CASPIAN SUPER-CLUB PLAN TAKES SHAPE. There is a picture of a game involving Sheffield Steelers next to the text, and the main passage is as follows:
Leeds United owners Caspian are set to announce a major ice hockey deal. The company has had detailed discussions with Sheffield Steelers, who are considering an offer to sell half their Yorkshire franchise, meaning a new team could be set up in Leeds. If the plans go ahead, a new 15,000 capacity indoor arena, capable of holding major pop concerts and possibly a top British basketball side, would be built on land next to United's Elland Road home.
Tue 31 Dec - GB's Under-21s improved to beat Austria 4-2 in the latest group game in the World Junior Championships.
Indications are that the site would be behind the huge 18,000 seat East stand, land which is used for parking and match-day buses. Caspian boss Chris Akers today refused to comment, but said his company would make a major announcement in the new year. If the bid were to be successful, it would be the start of a new sporting rivalry between Leeds and Sheffield to match the passions of soccer.
Ice hockey is one of the fastest growing sports in the UK. The Steelers, who missed a chance to go joint top of the Superleague on Boxing Day, are one of the most successful teams in the country, regularly attracting crowds of 9000 to Sheffield Arena.
When Caspian, a London-based media group, took control at Elland Road during the summer, Mr Akers declared his intention to bring the sport to Leeds. The company has been involved in negotiations with Leeds City Council with a view to buying more land near the ground. With the old Fullerton Park training ground and the site of the former Leeds Greyhound Stadium providing ample parking, the council is likely to look favourably on a project which will bring both money and jobs to the city.
The British Ice Hockey Superleague would have to approve the separation of its Yorkshire franchise. Providing it gives the green light, the development would mark the first steps towards Caspian's creation of a sporting club in Leeds. In October they were rebuffed in their attempts to move Leeds Rugby League club to Elland Road. But London financiers have recognised the potential of Leeds as a sporting city. Caspian's share price has risen from 18p during the Leeds United takeover to its current level of 45.5p.
Mon 30 Dec - Great Britain's Under-21 team got off to a poor start in the U-21 World Junior Championships Group C match against Belarus in Romania. The final result was Great Britain 2 - 7 Belarus.
Sun 29 Dec - Nottingham Panthers hit back from yesterday's defeat by Sheffield Steelers to see off Newcastle Cobras in fine style 9-5. Newcastle scored in the first minute to go 1-0 up but Marty Dallman and Paul Adey scored hat-tricks to see the Panthers to a victory that moves them into a challenging position behind the Superleague front runners.
Sat 28 Dec - STORM HIT ROCK BOTTOM AS THEY LOSE 7-4 AT BRACKNELL. The 7-4 loss at bottom club Bracknell Bees ensured that Bees went above Storm in the league to put Storm adrift by 1 point at the bottom of the league. Nick Poole scored first for Storm after 2 minutes before Brian Pellerin equalised for Bees after 7 mins. Three minutes later, Jeff Sebastian made it 2-1 to Storm before Junkin made it 2-2. Just before the end of the first period, Bracknell took the lead for the first time with a goal from Dale Whistle. Four minutes into the second period, Storm's Man of the Match, Brad Zavisha scored to make it 3-3, but Bees scored again a minute later with a goal from Johnstone. Stephen Cooper put Storm back level just a minute later and the score remained 4-4 until the third period. The third period was all Bracknell as goals from Andy Pickles, Richards and Wayde Bucsis made the score 7-4 and a hefty defeat for Storm that put them bottom of the league.
Also on Saturday, Sheffield Steelers beat Nottingham Panthers 3-2 after overtime.
Fri 27 Dec - MUCH BETTER BUT STORM LOSE 2-1 TO CARDIFF. In front of another Superleague record crowd of 13,091, Storm lost once again, but this time with a good performance that matched league leaders Cardiff Devils. The first period was scoreless, but Devils opened the scoring on 23.39. Storm equalised nine minutes later at 32.01 from a Brad Rubachuk goal before Cardiff restored their lead at 37.06. Storm tried their best to equalise but it wasn't to be. New netminder Eric Raymond played well and got Man of the Match, but his trick of abandoning the goal to go walkabout is done far too often for my liking!
I've now read the article from the Moston, Middleton, Blackley & Crumpsall Express, a free newspaper in North Manchester. Those that were dismayed by what they read certainly have a point. I'll let you draw your own conclusions - here is the article in full. Remember that this article was printed on 5 December and so was written before then, so it is about a month old:
Manchester Storm fans will not be seeing an increased squad at the Storm Shelter. Nynex Arena general manager and Storm supremo David Davies said, "I'm not prepared to allow John Lawless to spend money we've not got. If he wants to bring in more players, he'll have to let some go. We've got a 5 year business plan and we're sticking to it."
The Superleague requires teams to have a minimum of 17 skaters plus two netminders. But against TPS Turku in Finland, Storm iced only 14 skaters and two netminders. However, the team produced their best display of the season so far against one of the best teams in Europe who'd beaten Storm 6-0 in Manchester. But with not enough players to make up three lines and with Superleague teams like Cardiff, Sheffield and Newcastle icing up to 22 players, is Lawless being held back from putting out his strongest side?
Said Mr Davies, "I'm surprised at the amount of cash being spent by other clubs and we've our own thoughts on whether it's a prudent thing to do. Newcastle, in particular, enjoy the limelight and are prepared to weather a large deficit in the initial years. But we're not prepared to do that. John Lawless is operating under the same budgetry requirements now as he was at the start of the season and nothing has changed."
Lawless does have some cash available as a result of Mark Pallister leaving and he's currently negotiating with another player and is awaiting the return of a signed contract. But is a one-for-one system enough? Who's next to leave? The money saved by releasing Crawley, Hough and Dempsey has already been used up to bring in Vanstaalduinen. The other way of bringing in players, through a junior development system, has also been ruled out.
Said Mr Davies, "The Nynex Arena is a multi-function stadium and is not just for ice hockey and because of this we cannot set aside ice time for any junior teams so we will not be developing a junior system here. We (Ogden Entertainment Services) do not see ourselves as a developer of new rinks either, because they don't last long. So we'll not be developing any further rinks where junior teams could play."
Mr Davies is also critical of some of the players that Lawless has brought in. He said, "We're speaking to them about their attitudes and the way they're performing. We're disappointed with some of them, they've fallen short of the mark. But others, like Mike Morin and Nick Poole have proved they can play at this level," he added.
And Mr Davies is also considering changes to the way players are bought. He said, "Like most clubs we tend to use the agent network to find players backed up by recommendations from coaches. We don't usually get to see them play before we sign them but next year we'll try to see players in action before we offer them contracts."
It seems that the only way things will change is if crowd numbers start to fall. "At the moment thew crowds at the Nynex are being entertained but if there's a clear deterioration in numbers we'll have to re-evaluate things," said Mr Davies.
So after three defeats in a row are Storm fans going to vote with their feet?
Great Britain netminder Bill Morrison has left Kingston Hawks to join a German team just six weeks after joining them from Basingstoke. He played his first game for Ratinger-Loan in the German Elite League against Wedemark on 26 December. He impressed German club representatives while netminding for GB in the recent Olympic qualifying matches.
Thu 26 Dec - Jamie Leach was injured as Sheffield Steelers lost out to Cardiff Devils 3-2 after overtime. Cardiff were 2-1 up, but Steelers equalised to take the game into overtime and Cardiff scored the winner. All three Cardiff goals were scored by new signing Steve Thornton. Sheffield have sent a video of the Leach injury incident to the BIHA claiming that Leach could have lost an eye. Meanwhile Nottingham Panthers saw off Basingstoke away 4-1.
Eventually I discovered that the result of the game between Nottingham Panthers and University Of Manitoba on Dec 17 was a 7-7 draw. Thanks to Ann Usher (Nottingham fan) and John Pretty (Steelers fan) for the following report: Injuries and GB duties meant Panthers - providing just nine of the 16 skaters that iced on their behalf - were grateful for the help of Solihull Blaze and Peterborough Pirates. (Laxdal 3+1, Chartrand +3, Dallman +1, Weber +2, Premak +2, Jenning 1, Darren Cotton 1, Olsen 1, Hadden +1, Jon Cotton +1, Hehr +1). For Manitoba (David Andrew 2+1,John Stroich 2+0, Mark Gaudet 1+2, David Stech 1+1, Mitchel Grant 0+1). Other guests included Steve Carpenter, Cassie Dawkins and Stan Marple. Panthers, in fact threatended to run away with the game early on, findng themselves 3-0 up inside the opening nine minutes. However, the touring Canadians battled backed to tie things up early in the second period before the game first swung one way and then the other, the home side eventually clawing their way back from 7-5 down. Jennings scored his first goal for Panther and Scott O'Connor was in the nets.
Sun 22 Dec - STORM GO DOWN IN CARDIFF. Storm lost 5-1 to the Devils in Cardiff. Cardiff opened the scoring after 6 minutes with a goal from Ken Hodge. Ivan Matulik made it 2-0 for the Devils after 18 minutes. The second period was low scoring with just one goal - a shorthanded goal for Cardiff from Doug McCarthy. The third period saw Storm get back into the game after 42 minutes with a goal from Brad Rubachuk. Cardiff came back quickly with two more goals - both in the 45th minute. The first was from Doug McEwan and Cardiff's fifth goal was from Kip Noble. The remaining fifteen minutes were played out without addition to the scoreline. John Finnie was Storm's Man of the Match.
Also on Sunday, Ayr and Newcastle drew 3-3 in a stormy game in Scotland. Nottingham Panthers came back from nothing as it was 3-0 to Ayr after 2 periods. Two Panthers goals in the last 4 minutes completed the comeback and overtime was goalless. Ayr's Scott Young, given a 2+2 at the Nynex on Saturday, was thrown out of the game along with Nottingham's Greg Hadden in the second period. In the other two games, Newcastle beat Basingstoke Bison 5-4, while Sheffield Steelers got back to winning ways with a 7-2 beating of Bracknell Bees, ensuring that Bees stay below Manchester Storm at the bottom of the table.
One question that was put to the Stormforce committee and Dave Biggar at the Stormforce Fans Forum on Sunday 17 August was the possibility of fans skating on the Nynex ice after the Storm games had finished like they do in rinks that allow it. The point was raised that in Newcastle Arena, they were testing the idea and the possibility should be considered for Nynex Arena. At the time the response from Dave Biggar was that it was something to consider. However, after pushing the matter in the form of a letter, the following reply was received written on behalf of David Davies, General Manager - the letter was actually signed by K.Spencer (if I can decipher the handwriting properly) and this is probably the secretary of Mr Davies (I have copied it word for word - so don't blame me for the inaccuracies in it - grammatical and otherwise!) :
Thank you for your letter dated 6th December 1996 regarding public skating sessions after the games.
I have today spoken to my colleague in Newcastle, Mr Colin Revel, who confirms that the idea had been tried out last season when Whitley Bay Warriors were there. The idea received luke-warm reception and as a result was then shelved. However, under the new guise of Newcastle Cobras, Newcastle United Sports Club have asked for a week commencement, with the intention of building a greater affinity amongst their followers.
At present there is no intention for this practice for this to be replicated here in Manchester, however we thank you for bringing this to our attention, and should demand increase, we would consider this as a one-off feature of our affinity programme with our supporters.
Sat 21 Dec - EXCITING 5-5 DRAW WITH AYR SCOTTISH EAGLES. This was yet another up and down game for Storm. I almost didn't go to the game as I had been ill with a bad cold all weekend. The first period was quite tight but Ayr broke the deadlock with the first goal and lead 1-0 at the end of the first period. I then missed the next four goals as I was still queueing up for food. I got back to my seat with 5 minutes remaining of the second period! I missed two Storm goals and two more Ayr goals and the score was 3-2 as I sat down. About 30 seconds later it was 4-2 and I feared the worst as Ayr looked like running away with it. The period ended 4-2 and Storm had to come out fighting in the third. Needless to say, I didn't leave my seat in the period break and saw Storm score three goals in two minutes in the third period to lead 5-4. It looked like being a victory for Storm until with 30 seconds left, Ayr pulled their netminder and the ploy worked as they scrambled an equaliser. So it was 5-5 and overtime. Why teams bother defending in overtime I don't know. You get 1 point if they score or no-one does. You get 2 for scoring first. With 1 minute to go, there is no need for a netminder as all he does is delay the end of the game! It might look better to have drawn after overtime rather than have lost, but you don't get points for looking better! I'd rather we had 20 shots on goal and lost to an unlucky deflection than to sit back and run out the overtime. Storm weren't quite that bad, but they didn't really look like they were going for it. The overtime inevitably remained goalless and each team received their 1 point.
Sheffield Steelers lost out to Nottingham Panthers in Lower Parliament Street by surprisingly large scoreline of 6-2. The scores were tied at 2-2 at one point, but Panthers went wild late on and wrapped up the excellent victory to open up the Superleague title race once again. In the other ISL game on Saturday, Basingstoke Bison completed yet another victory over their local rivals Bracknell Bees by 4-3. This result meant that Storm remained off the bottom of the league for at least another day!
The worst result possible for GB came out of Denmark on Saturday as Switzerland beat Denmark 8-1. This means that Switzerland win the Group A Olympic Qualifying group and so eliminate Great Britain.
Telford Tigers hit back from their 9-1 defeat by Storm last Monday by crushing hapless Medway Bears 23-2 on Saturday. Medway seem to yet another Premier League team in trouble following the likes of Telford and Peterborough who seem to be recovering from their off the ice problems.
Streatham Redskins had planned to be in the Superleague this season, but the team didn't get the go-ahead to join. Now under the new name of London Redskins, they plan to join the Premier League with a view to join the Superleague by 2000. A new company has been formed called Centre Ice Ltd and they hope to play in Streatham Ice Rink at first, but then move for the Superleague to a 35 million pound leisure complex which will include a 5000 seat arena.
BBC1 showed highlights of GB v Switzerland on Grandstand on Saturday 21st at 4.30 for ten minutes. The coverage wasn't too bad, but they didn't show any of the excitement of the last few minutes and it seemed like GB had gone out with a wimper rather than the great fight that they put in at the end.
Wed 18 Dec - GREAT BRITAIN DRAW 3-3 WITH SWITZERLAND IN SHEFFIELD. With a 7.00 face off, it was physically impossible for me to get there and so listened to the game on Radio Sheffield. The previous day there was worry as Doc Durdle was alleged to have illegally played in the Slovenia game. This would have meant a 2 point deduction from the table and so GB would not be able to qualify even if they had beaten Switzerland. It seems that the case was being brought due to the fact that the didn't play in the UK when he played his first game. However, the issue was resolved with no penalty to GB and Durdle qualified to play in the game against Switzerland. So onto the game! GB were quickly behind in the game as Manuele Celio scored on the powerplay to put the Swiss into the lead, but a minute later, Richard Little equalised for GB. The next goal for Switzerland was also on the powerplay when Dino Kessler put them infront once again 2-1. Tim Cranston equalised from just in front of the goal. The Great Britain went into the lead for the first time in the game 3-2 as Doug McEwan scored with a low shot, but a mishit shot from Vjeran Ivankovic gave the Swiss a 3-3 draw, despite valiant offensive work from GB in the final minutes with a number of shots just missing the net. The netminder was pulled in a vain attempt to go for broke. The result means that GB are unlikely to qualify for the final qualifying group, as only the group winners go through to the final qualifying round. It all depends on the Denmark v Switzerland game on 21 December, the final game of the group, and if Denmark fail to win, the it will be the Swiss who win the group and go through. Although they may not go through, the GB table have surpassed expectations as they were not expected to finish too high up the table, and they have ended the group unbeaten.
Marc Gronau has joined German first division club Deggendorfer. Gronau left Storm because he was offered the place in the German team and took the opportunity to return home to Germany.
The Fun Run around the Nynex concourse on 8 December raised £3521.31 and Storm's charity target of £8500 is getting nearer. The money will be used to provide a full ambulance upgrade.
Stormforce has announced that face painting is back due to requests from Junior Stormforce members. Face painting is available at the Stormforce desk behind Block 111 before and during each game.
The following has arrived by e-mail from Wales!
I agree the Storm are good, John Lawless the best coach/manager in Britain with players like Ruggles, Cooper and Jago but they'll have to pull their socks up when they come to Cardiff as any more mistakes will make them look a really stupid outfit and we all know they are capable of a top three finish.
Inter The Storm now has its own e-mail address, so you can send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with any comments you have on Inter The Storm, Manchester Storm, Stormforce or Storm Blitz.
There have been some more developments with the match programme article that John Lawless cut. As yet I'm not sure how much of this I can broadcast but the lastest news is that John Lawless did attend the Stormforce committee meeting as requested but was very unhappy at being asked to do so. He felt that it was totally unnecessary for him to be there. There was only one point on the agenda for the meeting and it was the editorial issue. An agreement was eventually reached between the two sides but Stormforce are very unhappy with the situation and so is John Lawless. I cannot go into further detail yet until I get clarification of the facts and the go-ahead to announce more, but watch this space. There is another story developing unrelated to this issue which seems to imply that Storm are happy to be mediocre while the fans are still visiting the arena. The claim has been made that the two new players are not very good, but don't have too high wages. This was implied in a newspaper article in the North Manchester Express which contained an interview with a member of the Ogden's team. I haven't seen the article in question, so I don't wish to comment further until I have, but this has far-reaching implications if it is fact. Expect an update on both these stories after Saturday's game with Ayr when I'll be making a point of speaking to at least one of the Stormforce commitee about it. It may be that they do not wish any more of this to be broadcasted in which case I'll comply.
Mon 16 Dec - CHAD PENNEY THE HERO AS STORM BEAT TELFORD 9-1. Chad Penney won man of the match and he well deserved it. He scored a hat-trick in the 9-1 defeat of Telford, which was played in front of just over 2500 fans - I think this was Storm's lowest Nynex crowd ever! Mark Pallister, who is supposed to be out injured until the new year, was playing for Telford, but they never really looked any good - after all they have been struggling in the Premier League. Apart from Penney's hat-trick, Jago scored along with Brad Zavisha, Mike Morin, Nick Poole and David Smith. There was a 9th goal but I've forgotten who scored that one just now. There were more penalties than we've come to expect from these challenge matches but not too many - Rubachuk stayed out of the box once again.
Salford Reds were the match night sponsors for the Telford game. It's nice to see this sort of "partnership" and I hope that Manchester Storm will return the favour and sponsor Salford over the summer. Rugby League is big in Manchester after football and now after ice hockey as well. They get crowds of about 4000-5000 and this should increase now that they have been promoted to the Super League. I hope Manchester Storm supporters who have never been to see Salford Reds will visit them during their summer season as it is another great family sport with a brilliant atmosphere!
Jon Hammond was back announcing at the Telford game! He may not be everyone's favourite match night announcer, but he's much better than Dave "groan moan" Biggar. Please stick to marketing the club, Dave! Let's not be too hard on him, he was OK I suppose, but Jon Hammond can get the crowd going - even if it is a Manchester Wave!
Chad Penney - what's going on? It is more than coincidence that just after nudging Chad on the bench at Blackburn last week and telling him to score some goals that he scored two that night, two the following Thursday and then a hat-trick against Telford! OK, these are lower league sides, but something must have gone right! It could also be that I have now got my signed Chad Penney photo and take it to the games waving it about attempting to convince the cameraman to film me with it. I even cheer and wave it about when he gets an assist. Is he inspired? Or has he just improved from mediocrity to something more like quite good? The Ayr game will explain further I hope...
Sun 15 Dec - Newcastle Cobras went back to second in the league after beating Ayr Scottish Eagles 7-3 in Scotland. It was 3-3 after two periods before two goals from Kelly Askew and one each from Justin Duberman and Markku Kyllonen sealed the victory.
Also on Sunday, Great Britain beat the touring Manitoba University in a challenge game at Blackburn 5-3. Two goals in the final 8 minutes for GB sealed the win. GB's goals were scored by Merv Priest (2), Rich Little, Ian Cooper and Steve Moria.
The Shropshire Star on Sarturday reported on Telford Tigers mentioning that Mark Pallister would be out injured until the new year! They also had an account of the court case involving Pallister, in which he was accused of kicking and punching a man who hit him on the head with a bottle. It turned into a seven-man brawl and was started by an argument over a woman in a pub, when the man that Pallister was accused of hitting began dancing with a particular woman on the dance floor. Pallister has been fined £2750 for his part in the incident, which happened in May this year.
Fri 13 Dec - Cardiff Devils drew 3-3 with Manitoba University in Cardiff.
MARC GRONAU LEAVES STORM AS TWO NEW SIGNINGS ANNOUNCED. Storm have signed two new players in a bid to relaunch their Superleague season. Netminder Eric Raymond and forward Mike Maurice are waiting for their work permits to come through. The players are expected to arrive in Manchester in time for the game against Ayr Scottish Eagles on Saturday 21 December. Eric Raymond is 24 and French-Canadian who has played for ECHL sides Huntington and Rochester. He was signed from Team Canada. His arrival has meant the departure of Marc Gronau who has left to join a team in the German Hockey League. Mike Maurice (that should cause confusion with Mike Morin - lets hope he gets an obvious number like 87 or something) is 30 and has played for Houston in the IHL. He is very experienced and should do well and add to Storm's offensive play. John Lawless said that he wanted the players who make mistakes to have to sit it out and so he needed more options. He also hopes to bring in yet another player before the 31 December transfer deadline.
Thu 12 Dec - STORM BEAT BLACKBURN AGAIN. Storm put 19 goals past a patched up Blackburn team in a tame game. John Lawless was again playing for Blackburn and Storm only iced 12 players plus Finnie. The first period saw six Storm goals and six different scorers. Dale Jago, Mike Morin, Chad Penney, Eric Calder (it was announced as Rubachuk's, but Calder scored it), David Smith and Brad Zavisha. One of Blackburn's three goals were scored by John Lawless, which didn't go down too well with the crowd! The first period ended 6-3. The second period saw Storm race away with the game with eight unanswered goals from Storm. Jago scored his second, as did Mike Morin, Chad Penney, Eric Calder and Brad Zavisha. Craig Woodcroft scored twice, while the other goals were from Nick Poole and Shawn Byram - now back from injury. The score at the end of the second period was 14-3 to Storm. The third period got a bit more lively as Eric Calder and Dale Jago completed their hat-tricks, Shawn Byram and Mike Morin scored their second goals, Martin Smith scored the 19th and final goal and John Lawless scored again for Blackburn, as they scored three goals in the final period. Brad Rubachuk was living dangerously as he knocked Lawless after he scored Blackburn's third goal to get a 2 minute penalty. Blackburn were also awarded a penalty shot that was taken by Alan Hough and saved by John Finnie.
For some reason, Dave Biggar, the Marketing Manager of the Nynex Arena, was doing the announcing at the Blackburn Hawks game instead of Jon Hammond. I can only assume that the hastily arranged challenge games must have coincided with a holiday for the owner of those wonderful jackets.
The photographs of the players that people sponsoring the grid in the programme get seem to have finally arrived! Here at Inter The Storm, I was in receipt of my Chad Penney just in time to turn it into a "sign" and wave it around a lot at the Blackburn game! I was the only one that seemed interested that Penney was on a hat-trick!
Great Britain look set to win their group as they defeated Holland away on Thursday. It will all be down to the battle of the top two, GB and Switzerland, next week at Sheffield Arena. The 8-2 victory was a good performance against the bottom side in the Olympic Qualyfying group. GB's goals were scored by Scott, Moria (2), Ian Cooper (NOT Stephen as it was announced at the Nynex during the Blackburn game), Strachan, Cranston, Little and Conway.
Bracknell Bees defeated the touring Canadian team, Manitoba University, on Thursday 8-5.
Sun 8 Dec - Storm are kept from the bottom of the league by having a lightly better goal difference than Bracknell because the Bees got 1 point from their 6-6 overtime draw with Ayr Scottish Eagles in Scotland. Bracknell were leading 5-3 and then Ayr scored three times to make it 6-5, but with two minutes remaining Bucsis scored the equaliser for Bracknell. Overtime didn't produce a goal. Meanwhile, Nottingham Panthers did what Bracknell almost did and overtook Storm after they beat Basingstoke Bison 6-1. The match of the day was won by Cardiff Devils after they defeated Sheffield Steelers 4-3. It was 2-2 going into the third period. Cardiff's scorers were Steffan Ziesche, Doug McCarthy and two from Marty Yewchuk.
Sat 7 Dec - STORM THRASH BLACKBURN 16-8 IN CHALLENGE MATCH. This hastily arranged challenge match clashed with the B&H Cup Final, but the face offs were at least staggered so I managed to watch this match and then catch the last period of the Final on BBC Radio 5 Live on the way home driving through the Blackburn fog! The crowd was embarrasingly low. There was a pretty poor Storm turnout with one full block (there are 14 blocks I think altogether) and the equivalent of another half block scattered around. There were even less Blackburn fans there! There couldn't have been more than 100 of them! I spotted the injured Shawn Byram hiding in the bar area. John Lawless appeared to be playing for Blackburn! Blackburn also included Colin Downie who started the game in net and Alan Hough who scored one of the Hawks goals. Tim Dempsey was also icing for Blackburn. Storm started the game well, but Blackburn were not very good at all. The first period finished 4-1 to Storm. The second period was the highest scoring with 10 more Storm goals and 3 for Blackburn to end the period 11-4. Blackburn came back in the final period to score four more goals, but Storm scored five more to confirm their superiority. There were no penalties until the last 10 minutes of the game when Jago got a 2 minute and Eric Calder went into the box with 2 minutes to go. At one point in the third period things got hectic with 3 goals in 20 seconds as Blackburn scored twice with a Storm goal in between and the announcer got very confused! The match programme was a double header programme - it included the following day's Murrayfield Racers game also. Brad Zavisha scored a hat trick for Storm with two goals each for Mike Morin, Chad Penney (hurray!), Craig Woodcroft, Jeff Sebastian and David Smith with one goal each from Brad "I didn't get sent off today" Rubachuk, Martin Smith and the still nameless Eric Calder. Two dreadful defensive errors from Stephen Cooper and Jeff Lindsay let in Blackburn for two of their goals.
I won tickets for the Blackburn v Storm game on BBC GMR on their Friday night sports programme by phoning up with the answer to the really difficult question Who is the captain of Manchester Storm? I was just thinking what I was going to do about getting tickets for the game and along comes some free ones!
The Benson & Hedges Cup Final was broadcasted live in full on BBC Radio 5 Live and the commentaters were Bob Ballard (of Radio Sheffield fame), Ken Priestlay (of Sheffield Steelers fame) and Mark Jones (editor of ThunderFlash, the Manchester Storm Internet fanzine)!
The B&H Cup Final was won by Nottingham Panthers against Ayr Scottish Eagles 5-3. Laxdal opened the scoring in the first minute for Nottingham and Bishop made it 2-0 after 11 minutes. Berwanger cut the deficit with a goal for Ayr, but Morgan ended the period's scoring with a Panthers goal to make the score 3-1. The first minute of the second period saw Nottingham's fourth goal. Ceefax reports the goal from Paul Adey, but Teletext gives it to Hadden. Young made it 4-2 after 24 minutes and it remained at this score until 5 minutes into the final period. Premak gave Nottingham their fifth goal, but Lala gave Ayr hope on 48 minutes to make the score 5-3. Ayr couldn't get another goal and the final 12 minutes were goalless. The game was witnessed by a Sheffield Arena crowd of 8560 and this result should give Nottingham hope of improving their eventual Super League position!
There is an ice hockey exhibition being held at Nelson Library until 2 January 1997. The exhibition includes a display of ice hockey equipment, action photographs and information. You can also win tickets to see Blackburn Hawks play. Nelson Library is in Nelson (bet you never guessed that one), which is just north of Burnley in Lancashire.
A Manchester Storm 4-man team played Blackburn Hawks's Under-12's side, Blackburn Sparrowhawks, in a challenge on the Bellway Manchester Ice Rink on Wednesday 27 November in front of hundreds of people watching. Storm won the game after a penalty shoot out! The four Manchester Storm players were Dale Jago, Brad Rubachuk, Chad Penney and Marc Gronau. Rumours that Brad Rubachuk received a game penalty are unconfirmed!!
The Manchester Evening News Pink - the local Saturday evening sports newspaper, reports that Colin Downie was offered the opportunity to stay with the Storm for the start of this season but never returned, instead prefering Blackburn Hawks.
The transfer deadline is on 31 December. Will there be any more signings?
Views on the Ayr v Storm game come from Sarah in Liverpool:
As for the Ayr game it was violent to say the least, you probably know all this already by now but I'll tell you all the same. Kummu jumped into the sin bin to attack Hilton, if that wasn't bad enough he just would not stop fighting with the guy and the cr*p Ayr supporters booed Hilton all night after that. Scotch gits!! Brad Rubachuck took a liking to the sin bin too and went in there no fewer than 5 times. What the attraction was I don't know but it must have been good. Jeff Lindsay got a match ban for crosschecking from behind and the Stephen Cooper goal to even up the score to 3-3 was awesome, he was so quick the goalie just didn't know where the puck was coming from!!! cool guy. As for Shawny's I spoke to him at the game, yes my knees were knocking with excitement, and he has an hip injury and will be back in a week or too. Bart I can't pronounce his name was there too. Me and Lisa were two white Storm shirts sitting with the Ayr supporters, boy that was an experience!!! The best person at the match was Finnie as he came over all worried to ask me and Lisa if we were locked out of our car and could he help. We weren't locked out so he stayed for a chat anyway and then Hilton came over for a chat before it was time for them to leave. What a week that was, such fond memories!!!!
Hilton Ruggles appeared on You Cannot Be Serious a sports comedy discussion programme on BBC Radio 5 Live last Sunday between 7.30 and 8.30pm. He answered questions about Manchester Storm and the league.
Thu 5 Dec - Cardiff Devils have gone back to the top of the Super League after a 4-4 overtime draw with Basingstoke Bison. They go top on games won with Sheffield Steelers having three games in hand. Goal difference seperates Nottingham Panthers with bottom place as Bracknell Bees continued their amazing good run by this time beating Newcastle Cobras 4-1. This means that Storm are just 1 point off the bottom but remain in 6th place.
Ceefax has written to Inter The Storm!! Here is what they had to say:
Thank you for your E-Mail about our Ice hockey coverage and I am sorry for the delay in replying. As I'm sure you can imagine, things can get pretty busy at Ceefax Sport! The point you raise about face-off times is a valid one, but I would like to plead our partial innocence for any inaccuracies. We take our information for these fixtures from the British Ice Hockey Association and the Press Association. By and large, this proves to be very accurate, but if a mistake has been made on their part, it is difficult to rectify unless it is brought to our attention. This is particularly the case with the European matches you cite, where there often seems to be confusion over face-offs. The British Ice Hockey Association are also notoriously slow in sending results through - and if you can't rely on the sport's governing body for these things, it does get a bit tricky. We endeavour at all times to provide viewers with fast and accurate information and I am sorry if you have found this not be the case. Your comments about the Sheffield Steelers were used on our letters page 356 some time last week. Thank you for your interest in Ceefax.
More e-mail, this time from Mick Prosser, a Storm fan:
I've just been reading through the updates to the latest news section. To be honest I agree with most of Liz's comments. Although the team took a heavy defeat against Lulea, there was some really good play in attack by the team (but then again, the less said about the defence that night the better, it was really poor!!). The netminder did also make some good saves against some quality opposition, although what what would have happened with Finnie in the net is a subject for discussion, on a good night he is very good, but then he has had a couple of poor nights as well (thats not meant to be a major critisism, i think he is a class netminder!!).. liz's other comment about not minding when the team lose if they play well also holds true with me. I know the team are in a higher league than last year and have had to make some player changes due to the higher standard, but the team doesn't seem to have gelled together all that well at the moment. Although that should improve with time if they don't keep having to change the line up due to getting new players or players leaving! Mind, some recent performances have been a bit lackluster and seemed like the boys wern't trying all that hard (oopss, best avoid the Arches for a while in case some of them want to discuss the effort levels they put in with me!) I suppose every team has a bad run, i used to find that a lot playing rugby, if a few players leave or the team changes, even class players coming into the side still take a little while to settle down and for the team to start pulling together and winning again. If the team can settle down and start gelling for the rest of this season i'm sure next season will be really interesting with close matches against Sheffield and Cardiff etc. Apart from that, like the pages, the info is handy to fill me on on the few home games i have to miss and generally keep up with the away results..
A brand new newsgroup for British ice hockey is now up and running. uk.sport.ice-hockey is the new place for match reports, discussions and UK ice hockey news now that the UKH mailing list has closed down. I've now got access, so I'll see you there!
Tue 3 Dec - STORM LOSE 2-1 TO TPS TURKU IN FINLAND. Storm played well in the game and Stephen Cooper scored Storm's goal midway through the game. Storm have finished bottom of the EHL table without a point.
The other result in the group was Lulea 1-3 Berlin Capitals.
Also on Tuesday, in the Super League, Sheffield Steelers went top of the league after a 4-1 victory against Nottingham Panthers. Ron Shudra opened the scoring after 15 minutes for 1-0 and it stayed like that until the end of the first period, although Sheffield had 17 shots on goal to Nottingham's 4 in the first 20 minutes. Just one minute into the second period, Laxdall equalised for Nottingham, but Steelers came back with three more goals, two of which were from Jamie Leach and the other on 34 minutes by Glenn Mulvenna to make the score 4-1 at the end of the second. The third period remained goalless and Steelers next play Cardiff Devils on Sunday where they can set themselves up for a lead at the top of the table.
The Bury Times on Tuesday 3 December reported on the Storm v Nottingham Panthers game - just 9 days after the match took place!
Sheffield have been granted £12.5 million of lottery funds for a new Ice Arena in the city. It will have a 4000 seated capacity with a gym, bars, and Olympic sized pad, training area, changing rooms, admin & drug testing area and shops. The total cost of the project is expected to be about £16 million.
The Scottish Cup has been re-instated after one year without being staged. It will be a weekend tournament at Kirkaldy Arena, home of Fife Flyers. The semi finals will be on 8 February and the final on the following day. Ayr Scottish Eagles are not competing with the four teams being Fife Flyers, Paisley Pirates, Dumfries Border Vikings and Murrayfield Racers.
Issue 3 of the Stormforce Newsletter has been posted to all members and is available to buy for £1 for everyone else. It is A5 in size and is 20 pages long. The front page has a picture of Storm supporters in Manchester Airport awaiting the players to arrive back from Canada on the Stormforce sponsored flights from Canada. The next two pages contain an introduction and letters are on pages 4 and 5. A letter from me telling Stormforce about Inter The Storm. I wrote the letter back in September and they printed the letter word for word despite the fact that the letter was meant as background to the Internet pages, not word for word what should be printed! The description of the pages is a bit out of date now but never mind! There is a page about a story of a trip to Bracknell and a Forthcoming Events page. Page 8 is an article from the Stormforce treasurer about where Stormforce funds actually go (not a very long article that one!) and Page 9 contains pictures of Schwenninger Wild Wings fans holding Stormforce scarves and Rouen fans standing in the Nynex Arena. The centre pages have pictures from the Halloween Disco, the Stormforce Quiz Night and a sly picture of the Sheffield Arena gameboy! Pages 12 and 13 contain yet more pictures - a drawing of Dale Jago, a picture of a field and an assault course and the Junior Stormforce meeting. Next there is the Junior Stormforce Quiz Page and Page 15 contains information about merchandise. Pages 16 and 17 contain quotes from the Storm throughout the season so far. Page 18 contains quiz answers and bits of information, while Page 19 is an advert and the back cover is a review of the Junior Stormforce meeting at Platt Lane. Overall it wasn't too bad and is quite well presented. The spelling and grammar is much better than the match programme and is black and white throughout.
Also in the bundle with the Stormforce Newsletter is a Christmas card from Stormforce, an advert for the Bellway Manchester Ice Rink and a sponsor form for the Fun Run at the Nynex Arena on Sunday 8 December.
The Friday sports programme on GMR on Friday night had a short phone-in about the Manchester Storm game against Ayr the previous night. There were two callers, the first being Liz Smith. Liz said that she thought that the Super League Disciplinary committee had made their decision far too quickly and without proper consultation with players and officials (reflected in Frank Dempster's comments). She was also asked about the Storm's performance this season and some of the fan reactions. She said that Storm fans did not mind them losing as long as they played to their full potential or at least seemed to be trying. It was when the team did not get it together and appeared not to care a jot that the fans got upset. The next caller tried to make a connection between Frank Dempster coming from Ayr, George Nicholson coming from Ayr and the game being against Ayr.
Liz Smith wrote to Inter The Storm with a different point of view about the game against Lulea a couple of weeks ago (11-0 - you must remember!):
My only real criticism of your match report was that I thought the guys were really working hard. Lulea are a class outfit and never stood still for a second always keeping the Storm on their toes. I think that the class of the opposition made our team look far worse than they actually were. I think that Gronau did an excellent job in goal under constant pressure. I reply to all of those around me shouting for Finnie, I am very glad that JL did not bring Finnie on. If he had started in the net we would have been 0-13 down after the first period and he would have stormed off in a sulk. This is not to say that I don't rate Finnie but that I don't think that he would have coped as well as Gronau did with the game. Hope this has put the record straight.
Sun 1 Dec - Bottom club Bracknell Bees shocked leaders Cardiff Devils with a 7-5 win at the Beehive. Bracknell took the lead after just 32 seconds and led 7-2 after two periods. Cardiff rallied in the third with 3 goals to make the final score 7-5. Ayr Scottish Eagles prepared for the B&H Cup Final with another good result, this time a 4-4 draw after overtime at Sheffield Steelers. The Ayr scorers were Brendan Flynn, Markus Bewanger, Mark Woolf and Scott Young. Sheffield's scorers were Jamie Leach, Ron Shudra, Tim Cranston and Frank Kovacs.
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