Fri 31 Jan - GREAT STORM PERFORMANCE AT SHEFFIELD - Despite an 8-4 defeat, Storm played the best I've seen them for ages in Sheffield on Friday night. It was the final period that turned the game in Sheffield's favour with four unanswered goals. Storm were reported to be so upset at the final period that Jeff Lindsay smashed his stick to pieces as he walked off the ice. For the majority of the match, Storm looked like they were going to record their first ever victory against Sheffield Steelers as they led 1-0 after just four minutes with a great Craig Woodcroft goal. Steelers equalised from Jamie Leach and then a Jago mistake let in Nicky Chinn with just 3 seconds on the clock. That could have been the point that Steelers took a hold on the game, but Storm came out in the second period and equalised from Nick Poole. Steelers regained the lead with a goal from Jason Lafreniere, but Storm came back again with two more goals to give them 4-3 lead from Brad Rubachuk and Brad Zavisha. Steelers got out of jail just before the end of the second period with the equaliser from Tim Cranston. Up to that point, Storm had been excellent and had missed a number of chances also. Sheffield looked uninterested and Storm's defence easily coped with everything else Sheffield shot at them. But then came the third period. Steelers decided to go for the win that they so desperately needed. A powerplay goal from Jamie Leach gave them the lead again before Jamie Leach ended his penalty and then got straight on the end of a Sheffield attacking move to put them 6-4 up. Nicky Chinn scored the 7th as Storm began to revert to old defensive habits. The eighth and final goal was scored with a long distance shot by Ron Shudra on the empty net with 90 seconds remaining.
In the match programme from Friday's Steelers v Storm game, Bob Ballard, the Radio Sheffield commentator for Sheffield Steelers and other sporting events, announces that he is to move permanently to BBC Radio 5 Live in two weeks. He says that he thinks he'll be covering the play-off semi-finals and final in Manchester and possibly be going to Poland in April with the GB team for the Pool B World Championships. Bob says that the bosses at BBC Sport have been watching the Superleague this season with a view to extensive coverage next season. There should be an announcement over the coming weeks as to the result of their decision.
Thu 30 Jan - Bracknell Bees made sure that Basingstoke Bison stayed bottom of the Superleague with a 9-6 victory in Basingstoke. In the other game, the touring Japan side drew 1-1 at Newcastle Cobras.
Premier League side Telford Tigers have been docked 4 points for fielding Phil Butler illegally. The BIHA say he was still registered with Peterborough Pirates. The games against Medway Bears and Swindon Ice Lords have been awarded 5-0 but the scorers and netminder stats will remain.
Wed 29 Jan - MUCH BETTER AS STORM BEAT COBRAS 5-3. A crowd of around 4500 saw Storm beat Newcastle Cobras for the first time in five attempts. The low crowd was surely due to about 80,000 of the city's football fans watching United and City, who were also at home that night. Newcastle looked very weak in the first period and Storm took advantage with a goal from Chad Penney. The second period saw Newcastle improve, but it was Storm who scored the next goal four minutes into the period - David Latta firing his first goal for Storm. The Cobras came back though to make the score 2-1 before Craig Woodcroft skated almost the length of the ice almost scored with a one on one and Mike Morin scored the rebound whilst short-handed to give Storm a two goal lead once again. The third period saw Jeff Sebastian miss a gilt-edged chance to score the fourth Storm goal, but the fourth goal eventually came from Brad Zavisha and Martin Smith scored the fifth on the powerplay. Cobras pulled one back to bring the score to 5-2 and then with almost 3 minutes still remaining, the Cobras netminder was pulled as Newcastle tried desperately to avoid throwing their championship challenge away. The goal came for Cobras with 2 minutes remaining and Storm couldn't score an empty net goal to seal the match. Newcastle tried in vain to score again but they couldn't and so Storm moved ahead of Bracknell Bees into sixth place in the Superleague.
Also on Wednesday, Japan drew at Ayr Scottish Eagles 6-6. Ayr went 3-0 up in the first period before Japan came back to 3-2 at the end of the first. They equalised at 3-3 in the second. Ayr then retook the lead at 4-3 before the end of the second period. Japan equalised again in the third period before they went 5-4 up. Ayr then equalised before Japan scored again to lead 6-5. With just 8 seconds remaining Ayr equalised again to end a dramatic game.
After being dismissed by Storm last week, Shawn Byram has signed for CE Wein of Vienna, Austria, nickned the "Icelions". He has signed a contract for the rest of the season.
Tue 28 Jan - Nottingham Panthers drew 2-2 with Japan on Tuesday 28 January after overtime. Ayr Scottish Eagles will be playing the touring Japan side on Wednesday 29 January in the next game, which will be the second of five for Japan as they prepare for the World Championship games in the summer. They will play Newcastle Cobras on Thursday night. Japan were due to play Great Britain in Blackburn as part of the tour but this has been replaced by a game in Basingstoke against the Bison (plus guests).
Sun 26 Jan - STORM BEAT BISON 8-7 IN THRILLER. In front of almost 9000 fans at the Nynex Arena, Storm almost threw the match aay after having a four goal lead. Storm led 3-1 after just twelve minutes of the game and Chad Penney was given a game penalty for being the third man in a fight. Just three minutes later, Basingstoke had scored three more goals to lead 4-3 at the end of the first period. The second period saw Storm soar into an 8-4 lead with five unanswered goals, but the third period was reversed with three unanswered goals from Bison to make the final score 8-7. Storm's goals were scored by Craig Woodcroft (2), Mike Morin (2), Martin Smith, Brad Turner, Dale Jago and Jeff Lindsay. The goals for the Bison were from Scott, Conway, Chard, Priest (2), Black and Brown.
Also on Sunday, Cardiff Devils defeated Sheffield Steelers to keep them on course for the first Superleague title. The first period was goalless and Cardiff opened the scoring in the second before Steelers came back and scored twice to lead 2-1 at the end of the second. The third period was all Cardiff as they came back and scored twice to win 3-2 despite Steelers coming close to equalising in the dying seconds as Greco was pulled. Bracknell Bees defeated Newcastle Cobras 6-3 at the Beehive to move to 6th in the Superleague. In the other game, Ayr Scottish Eagles continued their recent good run with a 5-3 win against Nottingham Panthers. In the Northern Premier League recently won by Fife Flyers, Paisley Pirates went to Northern Ireland and completely over-ran Castleraigh Knights 24-4. The Knights have had to release all their mainland-based players to cut costs.
Sat 25 Jan - STORM LOSE OUT 2-0 AT NEWCASTLE. Storm travelled to Newcastle to play the Cobras in front of the SKY TV cameras once again and nothing's new - they lost on SKY again! Newcastle opened the scoring with a goal from Norton after just 2 minutes of the game. Brebant made it 2-0 in the second period and storm could not come back into it. The third period was goalless and Storm went back to the bottom of the league again - thankfully only until Sunday!
Also on Saturday, in the the shock result of the night Sheffield Steelers lost out at home to Ayr Scottish Eagles. Ayr actually went 4-0 in the first 12 minutes of the game with goals from Woolf, Steer, Groleau and Lala before Steelers finally got on the scoreboard with a Rob Wilson powerplay goal after 14 minutes to make it 4-1. The second period was goalless and Steelers made it 4-2 with a Lafreniere goal with 5 minutes remaining. Ayr wrapped it all up with a goal from Steer to make the final score 5-2 to Ayr. Bracknell Bees beat Nottingham Panthers 3-0 at Lower Parliament Street on Saturday. Junkin scored the first in the first period. Brant and (Mike) Ellis scored the second and third goals in the second period while the third period was goalless. In Saturday's other game, Cardiff Devils were held to a 4-4 draw at Basingstoke after overtime. Cardiff couldn't get an overtime winner despite pulling their netminder for the last few seconds.
The latest news from Stormforce is as follows: The Stormforce AGM will take place on Sunday 13 April with the venue and time yet to be arranged. The Presentation Evening (Player Of The Year Night) will go ahead on Sunday 30 March at the Nynex Arena - the price has yet to be announced. There is currently a discussion going on between Stormforce and Odgens as to whether the catering prices will be subsidised. Stormforce are saying that no-one will turn up if they've got to pay those prices (giving last year's Sheffield Steelers End Of Season Party that was poorly attended) and Odgens disagreed. There will be a buffet (not including drinks I believe - hence the subsidy discussion), a disco, live band, auction and the presentation. The categories are as follows: Kiss 102 Player Of The Year, GMR Talk Best Forward, Piccadilly Key 103 Best Defenceman, Manchester Evening News Most Improved Player and North Manchester/Rochdale Express players' player award. The MC on the night is (of course) Jon Hammond. There will be a Junior Stormforce training session when Junior Stormforce members will be able to watch the team train at the Nynex. After the training session, the Junior Stormforce will present their own Player Of The Year Trophy. Voting slips for this are available on the Stormforce desk. The event will take place between 2.00 and 3.00pm on Monday 10 February and parents are welcome to attend with their children. There is an entry fee of 1.00 to be donated to the Children's Hospital Appeal. Any Junior Stormforce members with a FULL ice hockey kit can come to the session in it and TWO of the juniors will be invited onto the ice with the Storm team at the end of the session. Stormforce Committee member Barbara Clifford is now a rep for the Great Britain Supporters Club. She will provide information on joining at the Stormforce desk on match nights. The next Stormforce newsletter is out and the end of February and will include a review of the season by Peter Collins of the North Manchester/Rochdale Express. Stormforce believes that Storm WILL have a totally new kit next season (Stormforce have asked that MANCHESTER be put on the kit). The first game that Granada will be televising for their new show will be Storm v Cardiff on Sunday 2 February. If the programme is a success then it will carry on next season. The Manchester Storm allocation for the British Championships Finals is Blocks 115 - 119. Mick Thompson, Stormforce's press officer is asking Storm fans to write to local radio stations GMR Talk and Piccadilly 1152 asking why should Storm fans have to tune into Radio Sheffield for reports on the Storm game when both local stations had sports shows on the same night but with NO Storm coverage. As GMR Talk claim to be the Official Number 1 station for sport, why not drop Head Of Sport Any Buckley a line at BBC GMR Talk, PO Box 951, New Broadcasting House, Oxford Road, Manchester, M60 1SD. Stormforce have been invited to enter a team in a charity ten pin bowling event at the Mega Bowl, Pilsworth, Bury on Sunday 6 April 4.00 start. The event is being run by the Rochdale Branch of the Manchester City Supporters Association & Rochdale FC Supporters Club and is in aid of Rochdale Hospice. Players from Manchester City, Rochdale and other sports will be there. All are welcome to come and support Stormforce and support a good cause. Stormforce are running a competition for Manchester Storm tickets in the match programme for Rochdale v Barnet on Sat 1 Feb.
The game against Newcastle Cobras on Wednesday evening will go ahead despite Stormforce's request that it be moved to avoid the clash with not just ONE of Manchester's top soccer sides, but BOTH Manchester United and Manchester City are playing at home that night - filling two stadiums less than 3 miles aay with a total of 80,000 people. Ogden's said NO, the game must go ahead on Wednesday - despite being given three weeks to re-arrange it.
Thu 23 Jan - STORM MOVE OFF BOTTOM IN 6-3 WIN AGAINST BEES. Storm got off the bottom of the league for a couple of days in this reasonably good performance against Bracknell Bees. Bees opened the scoring after just 1 minute of the game before Dale Jago and Jeff Lindsay shot Storm into the lead by the end of the first period. Storm scored three times in the second with goals from Nick Poole, Mike Morin and Craig Woodcroft. Bees scored their second to make the score at the end of the second period 5-2. Storm got their sixth as Chad Penney scored in the third period before Bracknell finished off the scoring with their third. Man Of The Match for Storm was Mike Morin, while netminder Mark Bernard won it for Bracknell.
Wed 22 Jan - The Gary Dickie testimonial match took place between Swindon Ice Lords and a Gary Dickie AllStars side which included Brad Rubachuk, Daryl Lipsey and Jeff Sebastian. The final score was 11-10 to Gary Dickie AllStars side with Rubachuk scoring the Allstars 9th and 11th goals.
To cover for the injury to Eric Raymond, Storm signed Jason Wood on loan from Cardiff Devils as two netminders must be named for each game - and so Storm had to loan a netminder. Jason was not getting any ice time at Cardiff, and since arriving at Manchester in time for the Sheffield game last week, has not had any ice time here either!
Manchester Storm have released Shawn Byram after a dressing room bust-up with John Lawless. The exact details of the events leading to his departure have not been released by Storm. John Lawless said that he preferred the isue to "stay in the dressing room". The events supposedly took place in between the second and third periods at Sheffield in Storm's game last Tuesday and arose from a clash of personalities between Byram and Lawless. Apparantly Byram spoke his mind and left Lawless no option but to dismiss him.
The Scottish Cup Final will take place at Kirkaldy on 8th February and will take place between Fife Flyers and Paisley Pirates. It will be televised by BBC Scotland.
At the same time as Storm signed netminder Eric Raymond, we also signed Mike Maurice, except that he didn't get as far as actually playing. His name appeared in the programme briefly to he didn't get his work permit and so signed for a team in the Colonial League in the United States.
Dale Jago has finished third in the Manchester Evening News Sports Personality Of The Year awards voted for by the paper's readers. He finshed behind a Manchester boxer and St Helens rugby league player Bobby Goulding.
The British League could be on its way back - but this won't affect the Superleague. According to the Storm match programme, one idea is that there will be a nationwide British Premier Division and a regionalised Division One. The probable make up of the Premier Division will be : Fife, Guildford, Kingston, Paisley, Slough, Swindon, Telford, Whitley and Solihull (if they don't move to Birmingham - if they do they will join the Superleague). The Northern Division One would then contain : Altrincham, Billingham, Blackburn, Murrayfield, Sunderland, Castlereagh, Dumfries plus possibly Bradford and Sheffield Scimitars. The Southern Division One would then contain : Chelmsford, Haringey, Medway, Oxford, Peterborough, Romford and Stevenage.
Tue 21 Jan - STEELERS BEAT STORM 5-3. In a poor game, a lacklustre Sheffield Steelers just about overcame an improved Manchester Storm. Storm took the lead with 1 minute remaining in the first period with a goal from Martin Smith. The lead lasted until just 16 seconds into the second period when Kovacs equalised. Five minutes later, Ken Priestlay put Steelers into the lead. Storm didn't fall over, as some might have expected, but came back to equalise ten minutes later from a Brad Turner shot. Just before the end of the second period, Ron Shudra scored on the powerplay to put Steelers 3-2 up. Nicky Chinn made it 4-2 four minutes into the third, but with 5 minutes remaining Brad Rubachuk set up a dramatic finish with a goal to bring the score to 4-3. Despite Storm's efforts, Ken Priestlay scored an empty net goal with just 15 seconds remaining.
It seems that Martin Smith's new nickname is Cyclone not Psycho as I thought it was. Maybe they should all have weather nicknames. Hmmm....Stephen Foggy Cooper...Hilton Rainy Ruggles....
Sun 19 Jan - Cardiff Devils came back from their defeat at Sheffield with a resounding victory over Nottingham Panthers 11-2. Kip Noble led the way with a hat-trick and Steve Moria and Ivan Matulik both scored twice. Bracknell Bees moved off the bottom of the table - to be replaced by Storm - with a 6-3 victory against Ayr Scottish Eagles. The Bees scorers were Junkin (2), Mark Ellis, Bucsis, Ferracciolin and Whistle.
Fife Flyers are the Northern Premier League champions. They won the league after Sunday's 16-5 victory at Castlereagh Knights and did so with 6 league games to spare.
Following on from Granada's admission that they were going to develop an interest in ice hockey, rumour has it that they will be giving Manchester Storm their own show on Sundays starting on the 2nd February presented by Paul Ferguson. The programme is expected to last 30 minutes.
Storm left the European League at the end of the group stage and the Quarter Finals have now been completed. Sparta Prague went through 11-5 against Ceske Budejovice over the two legs, while TPS Turku beat Litvinov 6-2 on aggregate. Frolunda beat Jokerit 3-2 in the games, while the final match saw Dynamo Moscow overcome Slovan Bratislava 8-2 over the two games.
The play off format for the Premier League and the Northern Premier League has now been decided with two groups of 4 being made up of the top three Northern Premier League teams and the top five Premier League teams.
Sat 18 Jan - Sheffield Steelers closed the gap at the top of the table to just 1 point after a close 7-6 victory over Cardiff Devils at the House of Steel. Nottingham Panthers also were involved in a close game beating Newcastle Cobras 4-3 at Lower Parliament Street. In the other game, Ayr Scottish Eagles won away at Basingstoke 6-4.
The Manchester Evening News Pink this week reports on Eric Raymond, Storm's new netminder. The following appeared with the headline ERIC IS TOP MINDER and a picture of Eric with the caption ERIC RAYMOND...he's top of the charts and a picture of Daryl Lipsey with the caption DARYL LIPSEY...fan of netminder. The main points in the article are as follows:
Signing for Manchester Storm has been a bit of a culture shock for Eric Raymond. The 24-year old netminder has gone straight to the top of the Superleague goaltending statistics in his five games so far for the Storm. The French-Canadian from Quebec has played for the farm teams of NHL teams Pittsburg, Montreal and Buffalo and started this season with Team Canada.
Thu 16 Jan - STORM AN EMBARRASMENT AS CARDIFF ROMP HOME - On Thursday night in the Nynex in front of a low crowd by Storm's high standards of just 5308, Cardiff Devils came to Manchester and completely over-ran the Storm making the defence look like they had never seen each other before. If Cardiff hadn't let up later on in the game, Storm could have encountered their worst ever defeat at the Nynex, after Lulea won 11-0 earlier in the season. The bottom line is that they were garbage. The defence was nowhere, Finnie didn't know what he was doing and the second half replacement, Raymond wasn't much better. Lawless persisted with Chad Penney despite him being extremely out of form and only Hilton Ruggles looked like he could score. Jago hardly ever came forward in a vain attempt to stop Cardiff's attack. Yewchuk opened the scoring at 2-14 and the scene was set. Frank Evans made it 2-0 after 9 minutes before Sacratini got the first of his hat-trick a minute later. Steve Moria made it 4-0 on 15 minutes. Ivan Matulik carried things on in the same fashion six minutes into the second period to make it 6-0 and Storm fans were resigned to defeat. It was 6-0 just after Raymond replaced Finnie from Yewchuk, but Storm at last started to have a go. Hilton Ruggles put Storm on the scoresheet after 37 minutes with a brilliant goal that should have won him Man of the Match as no-one else did anything nearly as good. With just 1.1 seconds left in the second period, Lawless pulled Raymond in a very optomistic effort to score. The end of the period saw the end of Storm's brief efforts. Ken Hodge made it 7-1 3 minutes into the third on the powerplay after Rubachuk had yet again needlessly been dismissed for 2 minutes. Frank Evans continued the pain for Storm with an eighth Cardiff goal two minutes later and Ian Cooper scored the ninth a minute later on 49 minutes. Sacratini scored Cardiff's 10th as Storm's misfits continued to fall apart. The crowd must have thought they were having a nightmare as Sacratini scored again to get his hat-trick and Cardiff's 11th just 2 minutes later. The rarely seen Craig Woodcroft scored a goal on 54 minutes and Brad Zavisha pulled another back with just over a minute remaining as Cardiff stopped bothering to play. Stephen Cooper got the Least Useless Skater of the Match award. This can't go on. Air Canada will be excited at the prospect of increased business in March I should think.
Raymond had offers from a couple of teams in the Superleague but chose Manchester as he had heard good things about them.
Daryl Lipsey said of Raymond, "He's a workaholic who takes training and preparation very seriously. He has made a big impact. A new face in the team always helps. Eric has a lot of experience and works hard off the ice. He's one of the first in the changing rooms working out before and after training sessions. He has a good attitude and it rubs off on the other players. He encourages players a lot on the ice and talks to the defencemen all the time."
Joining Bart on the injury list is David Smith, who had x-rays on Friday after getting a suspected broken collarbone in the Cardiff game.
The latest unsubstantiated rumours are that Shawn Byram's wife is insisting that he goes home at the end of the season and that Jeff Lindsay will be going too.
Next year's Storm home and away kits will undergo a major change. At present they are still planning predominantly white for home and black for away, but want to get rid of all blue on the shirt (possibly thinking the fans will assume an affinity to Manchester City?) and introduce the word Manchester onto the shirt somewhere as well as the emblem (as in a football style shirt where the team emblem is towards the top of the shirt). However, in two wild contradictions, the following issues are being discussed. Ogden's aren't convinced that the name Manchester Storm is attracting fans all throughout the franchise area, which is after all what the team was set up to cover. Exactly what name they were thinking of remains a mystery for now. The name Storm may be used on its own. It has to be said that Stormforce will oppose this move every step of the way, and in reality is likely to not get off the ground. But this begs the question - if the crowds go low, Ogdens will surely read into it that the fanbase isn't big enough not the real reason, which will be the lack of decent players bought by Storm because Ogden's "have a 5 year plan". The final point, if things weren't complicated enough already, was that it's Stormforce's view that Storm need a "proper" local derby (I'm not entirely convinced myself) similar to that with Blackburn Hawks last season and more than Leeds will offer when they come on board. If Ogden's get that idea into their head, we could be seeing a situation similar to that with Sheffield/Leeds - ie. Ogden's selling half the franchise. It seems a bit unlikely at present, but stranger things have happened.
After a small amount of prompting by my faxes to the Storm office, the programme finally has an up to date results/fixtures list. The Telford Tigers home game was missing until Thursday and the Blackburn away challenge match was only updated at the previous game. They have also finally removed the line that said that there were still games to re-arrange despite all the games having been arranged and on the fixture list in November.
Wed 15 Jan - STORM GO DOWN IN AYR - Storm started a bad week that surely won't improve much as they went down in Ayr 5-2. Hilton Ruggles opened the scoring for Storm in the first period, but Ayr scored three goals in four minutes in the second to lead 3-1. Storm hit back to make it a 3-2 game, but late on in the third period, Boe and Steer sealed a 5-2 win for the Scottish Eagles.
Also on Wednesday, in an exciting game with the second and third periods broadcasted live on BBC Radio Sheffield, Sheffield Steelers were run close, but finally saw off Nottingham Panthers 6-3. Gareth Hampshire and Solihull coach Paul Thompson did the commentary after Steelers had gone in front in the first period with a Tony Hand goal. Ken Priestlay made it 2-0 and Chinn made it three with 8-19 left in the second. Cory Beaulieu failed to clear with 7 minutes remaining and Randall Webber put Panthers back into the game. The third period saw Nottingham score twice more to level the game at 3-3 with goals from Shellman and Paul Adey. Longstaff quickly restored the lead for Steelers and then Kovacs made it 5-3. Trailing by two goals, Nottingham declined the option of pulling their netminder until the last 37 seconds. With 5 seconds remaining, the game was sealed with Man of the Match Tony Hand making it 6-3. While Radio Sheffield were commentating on the game the was clearly another commentary team in the background. I couldn't work out who they were, but they may have been Radio Nottingham or possibly Hallam FM. I couldn't hear properly because of the vacuum cleaner (don't ask!). In the other game on Wednesday, Newcastle Cobras just overcame Basingstoke Bison in the North East. With the score 4-2 to Cobras early in the third period, Bison levelled the scores with two goals in 34 seconds. Cobras scored a fifth the re-take the lead and then with the Bison netminder pulled, the Cobras sixth goals was scored with Kelly Askey scoring four in the 6-4 victory for Newcastle. Basingstoke's goals were scored by Rick Strachan, Blake Knox, Kevin Conway and Chris Maybury.
Martin Smith, who's nickname was...No Nickname, has finally got a proper nickname as he is now announced as Martin "Psycho" Smith. Hmmm...very original I don't think.
After the announcement of possible Superleague commentary on Radio 5 Live on Saturday nights, an updated version of the news has now come to hand. The reports of a forthcoming programme are not strictly true as the budget for next year has not yet been set. Radio 5 Live have wanted to do such a programme from September 1996 following the Rugby League Super League season, but there is currently a news programme in the slot which is considered important. The format for such a programme if it came about would be news and views from a number of sports including ice hockey, basketball, Speedway, Rugby League and would include commentary from a selected game. It would no doubt be Rugby League while their season continues, unless it is a particularly lame game for that night (SKY choose the only Saturday night Rugby League match) and the programme would probably not start until 7.00 as the 6-0-6 phone-in comes first.
Nottingham Panthers' Derek Laxdall has been banned for a month after he failed a drugs test. His sample last month was found to contain Pseudoephedrine, a stimulant banned under IOC doping control rules. Laxdal admitted taking the drug but said it was to combat a cough and sore throat. A BIHA spokesman confirmed that his sample was "consistent" with his claim but that the ban would still stand. Laxdall will return to action on 14 February.
Manchester City Councellor Patrick Karney, who is the chairman of the City Centre Commitee, said that the ice rink in Albert Square was part of the Christmas season of attracting people into the city centre. It was never the intention to have a permanent ice rink in the main civic square in the city. The success of the rink took the council by surprise and with over 25,000 people visiting and 30 enquiries from other local councils, that level of popularity has led them to look at the provision of an ice rink on a more permanent basis, but not in Albert Square.
The GB U-16 team, who won the Steel City Challenge tournament in Ontario, Canada, did so by beating Sault Thunder 4-1 in the final. Warren Tait of Nottingham and Glasgow's Craig Gallagher were both named on the All-Star team.
Sheffield Steelers have bought The Enfield - the pub across the road from the Sheffield Arena and intend to turn it into a sports bar.
Cardiff Devils have announced a £200 million village which will include a new arena for the Devils. The village will be built in the Tiger Bay area of Cardiff with the arena seating between 12,500 and 15,000. The village will also include a new stadium for Cardiff City soccer team and will also be used for Rugby Union and possibly Rugby League internationals. There will also be a ten lane Olympic sized swimming pool with diving pool and Waterworld fun pool.
The Manchester Evening News reports that the Bass Masters crown green bowling competition screened every year on Granada TV has been scrapped. The station has also dropped the saturday tea-time soccer goals programme Granada Goals Extra to be replaced with an extended news programme. The Granada TV line on this is that they are shifting their strategy away from covering regional sport to develop interest in ice hockey! There is no explanation of this strange strategy, or what they intend to do once they have an interest in ice hockey!
The latest episode of Under The Moon on Channel 4 again included no ice hockey, but the programme has been reduced to 4 hours because schools programmes start at 4.00AM in term time. They had a phone-in discussion until 2.30AM and then the Green Bay Packers American Football game for the rest of the programme. Apart from the Superbowl next week there are no more games, so they may show something different next week.
Bart Vanstaalduinen is still out injured with hernia troubles. He will be out of action for at least a couple of weeks.
Sun 12 Jan - STORM WIN AGAIN AND MOVE OFF THE BOTTOM. In front of just under 10,000 at the Nynex Arena, Storm beat Basingstoke Bison 4-1 to move off the bottom of the league. The game began with Storm going all out to get an early goal and they ended up going 3-0 in the first 10 minutes. Shawn Byram scored number one after 6 minutes with Mike Morin adding another in the 9th minute. Hilton Ruggles got a now rare goal a minute later and Storm looked like they were all on for getting their biggest Superleague win of the season. The score remanined the same until six minutes into the second period when Basingstoke pulled a goal back from Merv Priest. Storm increased their lead to 4-1 just 3 minutes later with a goal from Chad Penney. This was followed by the first penalty of the game when Martin Smith got a 2 minute sit-down. After 39 minutes Storm had a goal disallowed and despite calls for a fifth from the crowd, the score remained the same throughout the whole of the last 30 minutes of the game. The Man of the Match for Storm was Brad Turner, while Merv Priest got the Bison award. The 9943 crowd was swelled with about seventy Milton Keynes Kings fans who had made the trip as they travel round the country to games as their own rink and team closed in the summer.
In other game on Sunday, Sheffield Steelers beat Bracknell Bees at the Beehive 4-3 with the winner coming from Nicky Chinn with 10 minutes remaining. This was after Saturday's game where Steelers won by the same scoreline against Basingstoke with the winner then coming in overtime from Frank Kovacs. Ayr Scottish Eagles beat Newcastle Cobras 5-4 away in overtime. It was 4-0 to Ayr after the first period, but newcastle clawed their way back with the score 4-2 at the end of the second and 4-4 at the end of the third period. The winning goal was scored by Scott Young in overtime.
At last! Eric Calder has finally got his name on his shirt - just in time to avoid the Inter The Storm campaign to buy him some stick on letters that I was planning for next week!
Following on from the B&H Cup Final that was broadcasted live on BBC Radio 5 Live in December, the BBC now plans to broadcast live Superleague games in a new Saturday night programme that will also include basketball and will continue with rugby league once the rugby season begins in March. This is good news for Storm fans, as Storm play most of their away games on Saturday night and the only previous way to follow them was to watch pages 183 on Teletext and wait for the score updates! I suspect that they will cover the game that is on SKY when there is a live TV game on the Saturday. More news on this as I get it.
The UK Hockey mailing list that disbanded at the end of the year to be replaced with the uk.sport.ice-hockey newsgroup is now with us again. The newsgroup is still available. The new mailing list is split into groups of "fans lists". This means that when you sign up, you choose whose list to be added to. For Manchester Storm fans, you would obviously choose the Storm list. This enables people to write messages to be sent to the team list that they are on (ie. you can send a message just to Storm fans) or to all teams (ie. everyone on the combined list). The Manchester Storm list is managed by Daniel Pollard and you must send an e-mail to him to be put on the list. The UK Hockey mailing list is used to discuss ice hockey issues with rival fans, to pass on information to fellow supporters and match reports etc are posted there.
There is another Storm fanzine available! It is called The Shower Cap and is available from Skate Attack and Sportspages. This follows on from the quite impressive Thunder & Lightning and the hockey puzzles fanzine Ice Breaker. I bought all three for the first time from Skate Attack after the Basingstoke game and will do a brief review of them soon.
The next Stormforce Committe meeting will take place on Tuesday 14 January and I shall report on the outcomes of that by next weekend. Dave Biggar is expected to be in attendance for this one and a number of events are expected to be announced.
Sat 11 Jan - Cardiff Devils beat Ayr Scottish Eagles 7-4 at the Centrum Arena in Scotland. They were 4-0 up, but Ayr came back to level at 4-4 at the end of the second period. Cardiff scored three times in the third to make the final score 7-4. Nottingham Panthers were involved in another tight game, after their 1-0 defeat at Newcastle on Thursday, the beat Bracknell Bees 6-5 at Lower Parliament Street. Sheffield Steelers got back to winning ways with a 4-3 overtime win at Basingstoke Bison.
An article in The Pink - the weekly sports paper of the Manchester Evening News writes about David Latta :
DAVE GOES THE LONG WAY ROUND
Dave Latta today revealed the red tape nightmare which sent him halfway round the world to sign for Manchester Storm. The highly-rated Canadian forward was forced to travel to Canada and back to get an entry permit after being refused by British Embassy officials in Germany. At one stage the transfer was called off by John Lawless and Latta was set to start his career again in Germany. But he finally arrived in Manchester 10 days ago on his 30th birthday.
He explained, "I had agreed the transfer deal with John and flew to Dusseldorf to get an entry permit. But when I spoke to them they said it would take four to six weeks. I was so angry. I flew there from Munich which wasn't cheap. I arrived believing I was going to get this thing and then I find I'm not going to get it. You bet I was angry. That effectively killed off the deal but a few days later John phoned back to say they could fly me to Canada and I could get the permit there. So I flew to Ottawa and got the stamp from the British Embassy there. It took just 15 minutes for the paperwork to be done after waiting in line for an hour."
Latta played junior hockey for the Kitchener Rangers and was drafted by NHL side Quebec and was under contract to them for five years. Then his career took him to Germany for four years before he decided he was ready for a change. He made his debut on Sunday with a couple of shifts in the 2-1 victory against Ayr. Latta qualifies to play in Britain without a work permit because his wife is British.
The Bellway Manchester ice rink that was in Albert Square, Manchester city centre has now closed. The rink was a temporary construction enjoyed by hundreds of skaters over the weeks it was in use. There is a strong possibility that the rink will return - possibly in a different location - in the future.
Great Britain U-16s have been playing in the Steel City Hockey Tournament in Ontario, Canada last weekend. They won their division championship and according to sources in Ontario played good hockey and were a pleasure to watch.
Thu 9 Jan - The lowest ever score in the Superleague saw Newcastle Cobras beat Nottingham Panthers 1-0 in the North East on Thursday evening. I think I am correct in saying that it is the (joint?) lowest top level result in this country ever!
Also on Thursday, Sheffield Steelers went to Cardiff to play the Devils on Thursday live on SKY SPORTS and on BBC Radio Sheffield. The first period was very physical and there were a great deal of penalties for both sides and it remained goalless. Vesio Sacratini opened the scoring for Cardiff in the second period and the lead was doubled by Frank Evans before Ron Shudra pulled one back for Steelers. The third period saw Tony Hand equalise for Sheffield and they looked like they may go on to win the game before Doug McCarthy gave the Steelers a 3-2 lead. With 35 seconds remaining, Alex Dampier pulled Greco in a last gasp attempt to equalise and take the game into overtime. With 20 seconds remaining Priestlay passed to Wilson and Lyle shot just wide. 10 seconds later, Lyle missed again before Steelers called a timeout with just 1.2 seconds remaining. This came to nothing as Cardiff opened up a 5 point lead at the top of the table.
Channel 4's new all night sports programme Under The Moon began on Wednesday night with a 5 and a half hour programme. The programme was split into three, with the first being a phone-in/e-mail/fax discussion type of thing with guests including Jo Brand (for some reason), a footballer and a cricketer. It was very lively and off-beat, but the topic rarely moved away from the current topics in football and cricket. The second part of the programme was American Football. They showed a full match for two hours! This was really over the top as the American Football programme was only on two nights previously. From 4.30 to the close at 5.30 they showed Trans World Sport which included brief highlights of an NHL game (about 30 seconds long). They said that the middle part of the programme would concentrate on American Football action - despite there only being the championship games - one being shown live on Channel 4 on Sunday night and then the Superbowl left. They said that basketball would come in after that. Whether it would be live or not wasn't clear and neither was whether they would stick to basketball every week which would get very dull after a bit, live or not.
Wed 8 Jan - Ayr Scottish Eagles finally got to winning ways on Wednesday night as the defeated Storm's next opponents Basingstoke Bison 3-2 in Scotland. The first period saw most of the action as Hoffman and Steer put Ayr into a 3-1 lead after the score had been 1-1. The second period was goalless, as was the first 10 minutes of the third. Little pulled a goal back on 50 minutes to bring the score the 3-2 and despite a valiant effort, Basingstoke could not equalise.
The following article appeared in THE SUN newspaper:
JOHN PICKS UP A STORM
John Lawless reckons he knows why Manchester Storm have struggled in Ice hockey's Superleague - his coaching. Four straight defeats saw Storm hit the bottom before Sunday's 2-1 win over Ayr stopped the rot. Lawless, 36 tomorrow, admitted: "I've had to look at myself to see how I could improve as a coach. And there is definite room for improvement!"
Storm's game with Cardiff Devils at the Nynex Arena on Thursday 16 January faces off at 7.40pm as the game is being shown live on SKY TV.
Granada TV's new schedule has no place for SportsNet, the Monday early evening "trendy" sports review show that included Storm highlights. The programme has been replaced with a trendy football programme called The Footie Show.
Sun 5 Jan - STORM BEAT AYR IN TIGHT GAME. Storm finally got a much needed victory 2-1 against Ayr Scottish Eagles. Dale Jago opened the scoring for Storm in the first period before Matt Hoffman levelled things at 1-1. The second period had no goals but lots of fighting. Stephen Cooper and bad-boy Ryan Kummu were penalised amongst others and there were 2+4 penalties going round. The third period was still tight, but Nick Poole scored the winner with 7 minutes remaining to the delight of the crowd. Ayr pulled their netminder with 1 minute remaining as they did in the previous match against Storm, but this time there was no last gasp equaliser as Eric Raymond, the new netminder, held out and deservedly won Man of the Match for his performance. The fighting continued after the 60 minutes with most of the players becoming involved. Storm's next game is at Ayr in three days time - I suspect their could be a backlash from the home team on that occasion.
In other results on Sunday, Nottingham Panthers had an emphatic victory over Bracknell Bees at the Beehive. They were 1-0 up at the end of the first, before having a great second with the score 5-0 to Nottingham at the end of the second. The third period saw Bees get on the scoreboard with two goals, but with Panthers' four, the final score was 9-2 to Nottingham. Meanwhile Sheffield Steelers had a close game with Basingstoke Bison, eventually winning it 5-4, despite a last chance effort to equalise as Bison pulled their netminder Gallace in the dying seconds. In the other game, Cardiff Devils defeated the Cobras in Newcastle 6-2. There was a hat-trick from Steve Thornton, while the other Cardiff goals were from Doug McEwan, Ian Cooper and Doug McCarthy.
Although strangely not widely reported, John Lawless just beat the Dec 31 transfer deadline to sign two new players to try and see Storm's now dismal league performance improve. The two new players are defender Brad Turner (not another Brad!) and forward David Latta. David Latta was a player that Lawless tried to sign a few weeks ago, but he was refused a work permit and so the deal was thought to be off. However, the situation resolved itself just in time for him to join the team.
The Moston & Middleton Express has picked up another Storm story that others seem to have ignored. In the following article, Assistant Coach Daryl Lipsey has his say about Storm's lack of determination to win their games and what he thinks about it. The article is written by Peter Collins, the sports editor of the newspaper and it has the headline WORK YOUR BUTTS with the sub-headline ROCK BOTTOM STORM GET NEW YEAR WARNING. The article was printed in the 2 January edition of the newspaper. The article now follows:
Manchester Storm enter 1997 with only one way they can go - up! Recent results sees them start 1997 propping up the Superleague and one man who is far from impressed is assistant coach Daryl Lipsey.
"Certain players are not performing and it's not just the new guys. Some of the players from last season aren't pulling their weight either", Daryl warned this week. "If they want to be playing here next year they've got to start showing what they can do now. It's not only their careers that are on the line, John Lawless and I could be out of a job if we don't start winning games. That's what's really annoying me - our livelihoods are being put in jeopardy by these players."
Only Hilton Ruggles and Stephen Cooper have contracts extending beyond this season, the rest come up for renewal in the summer.
Added Lipsey, "Although we're planning bid changes in the summer player-wise we're still prepared to be proved wrong, but if players are going to do that they've got to start doing it now. We've got to get the Storm working their butts off because that's what wins games. Against Cardiff last Friday, every player did their job and showed what they can do when they want to, we just didn't have much luck. But against Bracknell the following night they were over-confident and in the third period we failed to compete and never looked like scoring."
I received a statement from Stormforce's press officer, Mick Thompson, which reflects the views of the Stormforce committee. The statement refers to the ongoing issue with regard to the programme editorial from the Storm v Steelers game earlier in the season. To follow is the statement in full:
The conclusion to the episode of the missing editorial was to say the least eye-opening, even though I (Mick Thompson, Stormforce press officer) am not prepared to say exactly what was said, I think everyone will have a fair idea from the following remarks:
Mr Lawless firmly believes what he says goes no matter which part of the Storm it concerns, there is no point in discussing any matter as his point of view is final. The reason, well he didn't like the piece and would do it again.
To sum up Mr Lawless, "The EGO has landed". God help the Storm.
One last point. If any Ogden Entertainment employee used the language that Mr Lawless did at the last Stormforce meeting they would be sacked on the spot. Mr Lawless has lost a LOT of respect over this incident.
Sat 4 Jan - STORM HUMILIATED IN NOTTINGHAM. Storm went to Nottingham live on SKY to play the Panthers and were humiliated 8-1. This performance has now shown the rest of the country how dire the Storm have become. Serious improvements are needed. Further details as I get them.
In other results on Saturday, Basingstoke Bison defeated Newcastle Cobras 6-5 after overtime and Cardiff Devils defeated Ayr Scottish Eagles 6-3.
Trouble-torn Peterborough Pirates, who have been "saved" once again are now continuing with their fixtures after a number of Premier League fixtures have been disrupted for a number of weeks due to their off-ice problems. They have some work to do to finish in a respectable position as they were defeated 14-4 at Telford Tigers in Saturday's game.
There are rumours circulating (with no evidence I must add) that crowd favourite Dale Jago may be leaving Storm at the end of the season to go to a German Elite League club.
Steve Barnes, who was involved in a number of incidents that led to his release from the Storm, has signed for Nottingham Panthers.
Stephen Cooper was asked if he was going to be continue playing for GB and he said that he was to retire as he had "had enough after 15 years and it is time to move over for someone younger to join the GB squad". Jeff Lindsay was also asked and he confirmed that he will be continuing to play for GB and he is looking forward to the World Championships in April.
Fri 3 Jan - Great Britain's Under-21 side played off for the bronze medal in the World Junior Championships Group C after losing their first group game and winning the next two. This set up a match against Denmark on Friday 3 January, which unfortunately Denmark won 5-4. This means that GB missed out on a bronze medal but finished in 4th place in the Group C Championship.
Thu 2 Jan - Great Britain Under 21s wrapped up their World Junior Championships Group C games with a great 7-0 victory over Croatia. They will play Denmark for a Gold Medal on Friday 3 January.
Also on Thursday, Sheffield Steelers beat Ayr Scottish Eagles 5-4 at the Centrum Arena. The score was 3-3, but Steelers went on to win a close game. Meanwhile, Bracknell Bees seem to have hit on a good run with a victory over Basingstoke Bison 6-3.Bees. Bees were without four players and it was Bison who scored first after 6 minutes from a goal from Knox. Bracknell then scored twice in two minutes after about 15 minutes mark. Richards scored close in to goal to get the first and then Junkin got the first of his hat-trick on the powerplay. But the lead lasted less than a minute when Basingstoke equalised when Black scored. The score was 2-2 at the end of the first period. Two minutes into the second period, Bison went ahead with a goal from Hurley. Bracknell went back on level terms again a minute later with the second goal from Richards. Bees started the third period well when Junkin got his second goal after just 30 seconds. Johnstone scored Bees fifth goal a minute later. Junkin wrapped it all up with his hat-trick goal after 53 minutes on the powerplay.
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