Fri 31 Oct - STORM DRAW 4-4 IN B&H 1ST LEG. On Friday night at the Nynex Arena, Storm wasted two three goal leads in their 1st Leg semi final game against Ayr Scottish Eagles in front of over 8000 fans. I missed the game (first home game missed this season!) and so had to listen to the coverage on GMR and Radio 5 Live. Radio 5 Live sent Bob Ballard to report on the game while GMR sent most of their reporters for some reason! Jack Dearden, Mike Saddler and Andy Costigan were joined by guest and ex-Storm player Nick Crawley. The first period was most busy with 6 goals going in. Storm held two three goal leads in this period with Mikael Wiklander opening the scoring after just a minute. Within five minutes it was 3-0 and surely Storm had the game wrapped up already - if it was that easy, then it wouldn't be Storm! Ayr pulled a goal back and then Storm scored again to claim their three goal lead back. With Craig Woodcroft scoring two of the goals following his four on Tuesday against Sparta Prague - surely if they could beat Prague Ayr would be a walkover? Ayr scored again and the game was far from over. With 90 second left of the period the referee was injured and the period ended at this point - the remaining time would be made up at the start of the second. This confused GMR completely who changed the story as to what was happening about 5 times. They kept promising "extensive coverage of the game coming shortly" but the longest spell of commentary was only about 3 minutes before we got a horse racing roundup or something. In the first period, Hrivnak in Storm's goal faced 11 Ayr shots while Ayr faced 12 Storm shots. The second period saw Steer score his second to bring the game back to 4-3 before Grolau levelled the game at 4-4. The third period came across as really dull on the radio and it didn't seem as though either side weren't really bothered - and yet GMR filled in time speculating as to whether Storm would pull Hrivnak or not (in between explaining what a powerplay was). They were probably quite pleased that the score was close as the 2nd leg in Ayr will now be much more interesting and they can feel more confident promoting the game on the station for live coverage in an extra GMR Sport programme next Saturday night. The programme ended before the Man Of The Match announcents but I guess it probably went to Woodcroft.
Thu 30 Oct - Cardiff Devils defeated the touring Team Canada in a challenge match at the Galaxy 101 Ice House on Friday night. The Devils were 6-4 down going into the third period but scored three unanswered goals to lead 7-6. Team Canada then pulled their netminder and Kip Noble scored an empty-net goal to win the game 8-6 for Cardiff.
Manchester Storm and the other Superleague clubs will be taking part in the new ISL Challenge Trophy starting in November. The first game is Nottingham v Sheffield on 1st November - strangely before the competition has officially been announced by the Superleague! The trophy will be played on a home and away basis (1 game home and 1 game away against each other team). It is expected that the Trophy will be played in the league format until Febraury when the top four will take place in semi-finals and the final will be played on 28 February (venue to be announced). A major sponsor for the Trophy is expected to be announced when the official announcement takes place. Unconfirmed reports say that the Daily Express will be that sponsor. The games will take place mainly in midweek and will give Storm a number of home games in December when it was expected there was to have been only the Bolzano game. Cardiff Devils have cancelled their December trip to a competition in Sweden. The fixtures involving Storm HAVE been announced but as yet I don't know them. So expect us to play Ayr a few more times yet!
Wed 29 Oct - Ayr Scottish Eagles moved second in the Superleague on Wednesday after beating Newcastle Cobras 3-2 in Newcastle. The Cobras still have 0 points in the Superleague. Basingstoke Bison hosted Team Canada in a challenge match. The first period ended goalless but Team Canada ended up 5-0 winners after they turned on the pressure.
The Japanese Olympic squad has cancelled their mini-tour of the UK which was to have been used as a warm up for the forthcoming Winter Olympics. Nottingham Panthers and Newcastle Cobras are said to have pulled out of their games with the team leaving only two games scheduled - against Sheffield and Ayr. The Japan team decided to call off the tour. The Team Canada team is currently touring the country.
Tue 28 Oct - SPARTA PRAGUE THRASHED AT NYNEX. Storm thrashed Sparta Prague in what has to be one of the best performances by a British side in European competition. The first period saw Storm quickly go ahead with a goal from Craig Woodrcoft and Sparta Prague seemed shocked. The first period ended 3-0 with another from Woodcroft and one from Mike Morin. It was more of the same in the second when Craig Woodcroft and Mike Morin both scored again to make the score amazingly 5-0. The third period was expected to see a backlash from Sparta Prague but it didn't come. Criag Woodcroft wrapped up a great game with his fourth goal and Jeff Tomlinson finished the scoring off with Storm's 7th goal and fans from Prague were lookinging particularly downhearted by this time. This performance has surely given the team a good chance of getting past the group stages.
Also on Tuesday in the European Hockey League, Moscow Dynamo virtually sealed top place in Division F with a 4-0 victory over Bolzano in Italy.
Sun 26 Oct - STORM SHUTOUT BRACKNELL - Storm went back to the top of the Superleague after a comprehensive defeat of Bracknell Bees at The Hive. The first period was goalless but the second period saw five unanswered goals from Storm. Dave Morrison, Stefan Ketola, Mike Morin, Stephen Cooper and Jeff Jablonski all scored in the second period. The third period saw Storm score their sixth goal and the score remained 6-0 putting Storm back to the top of the league.
Also on Sunday in the Superleague, Cardiff Devils warmed up for their B&H Cup games against Newcastle Cobras with a 3-0 win in Cardiff. Sheffield Steelers came back from 2-1 down at the end of the first period against Basingstoke Bison. The second period saw two unanswered Steelers goals so they led 3-2. The third period saw Steelers run away with the game finally winning 7-3.
Sat 25 Oct - In the Superleague, Nottingham Panthers beat Newcastle Cobras 2-1 after Jamie Leach opened the scoring on 16 minutes before Stewart equalised for the Cobras on 18 minutes. The second period saw Niehuis score the winning goal for Nottingham on 27 minutes. Ayr Scottish Eagles beat Basingstoke Bison also 2-1. Woolf made it 1-0 to Ayr after 2 minutes and Biette made it 2-0 in the fifth minute. Straight away Basingstoke pulled it back to 2-1 and there was no more scoring in the rest of the match.
Following Storm's extensive appearances on Channel 4's BIG BREAKFAST last week, BBC TV's North West Tonight local news programme are featuring Storm with previews of the Sparta Prague EHL game and the Ayr Scottish Eagles B&H Cup game. If you see it and like it then send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org - they want to know!
GMR and Radio 5 Live have announced some forthcoming ice hockey coverage over the next few weeks. Coming first is GMR and FULL COMMENTARY on Storm's game with Sparta Prague at the Nynex Arena on Tuesday 28 October. The game faces off at 8.00 and in the first hour of the programme Andy Costigan will be going through the rules with presenter Jimmy Wagg. The programme will over-run and so is expected to finish at 11.00pm. Meanwhile Radio 5 Live have announced that they will have reporters at all the four B&H Cup semi final games starting with Storm's game with Ayr on Friday 31 October. There will be a report at 8.00 and then a couple of reports and then final report during the Friday Sport programme between 8.30 and 10.00. GMR has announced that they will be broadcasting their Friday night programme live from the Nynex Arena on 31 October to broadcast commentary on the game throughout the programme. This will be presented by Jack Dearden with additional commentary by Andy Costigan. Radio 5 Live will broadcast reports on the Cardiff - Newcastle tie on Saturday 1 November while the match is in progress during the sports desks between 6.30 and 9.30. There will be telephone inserts of Storm's game at Newcastle Cobras on Sunday 2 November during GMR's normal sunday night programming between 6.30 and 9.30. Storm's 2nd Leg B&H Cup tie with Ayr Scottish Eagles will be broadcast IN FULL with a dedicated extra sports programme on Saturday 8 November - the first time GMR have created an extra programme just for Manchester Storm. There will be full commentary including overtime and penalties if necessary. Radio 5 Live will broadcast reports on both second leg ties. Should Storm reach the B&H Cup Final on Saturday 6 December there will be another deicated ice hockey programme on GMR to bring full commentary of the final live from Sheffield Arena. Radio 5 Live will be broadcasting the final live whoever is taking part. If this is the sort of coverage that you want to hear on GMR and Radio 5 Live, then write and tell them - particularly GMR as they must have had some response to give the coverage that they are currently giving. Keep on telling them - it's the only way to make sure that we get this coverage in the future.
Tue 21 Oct - STORM GO TOP AFTER BEATING COBRAS. Manchester Storm went top of the Superleague after defeating Newcastle Cobras at the Nynex Arena on Tuesday night. Rick Judson opened the scoring after just 1 minute and the pattern continued for the opening spell of the match. Craig Woodcroft made it 3-0 after 3 minutes and Stefan Ketola scored the third just before the end of the first period. Hilton Ruggles made it 4-0 after 25 minutes and three minutes later Craig Woodcroft appeared to make the game safe with Storm's fifth goal. Newcastle then pulled a goal back on 35 minutes from Johnson and after 45 minutes it was 5-2 with a goal from LaScala. Storm scored their sixth goal from Jeff Tomlinson a minute later and then Norton scored the final goal of the night for Newcastle on 52 minutes to make the final score 6-3.
Also on Tuesday in the other Superleague game, Nottingham Panthers beat Sheffield Steelers 3-2 after overtime. Knox opened the scoring for Nottingham Panthers after 17 minutes before Dallman doubled the lead after 36 minutes. The score remained the same until just 4 minutes from time when Plommer pulled one back for Sheffield and then Frank Kovacs scored the equaliser a minute later. The game went into overtime and with two minutes remaining ex-Storm man Jeff Sebastian scored the winner for Nottingham.
It has been confirmed that the game on 28 October between Sparta Prague and Manchester Storm at the Nynex Arena will face off at 8.00pm, not 7.30 as reported elsewhere. GMR will include some commentary for those who cannot get to the game and there is a possibility that the game may be shown live on Nynex Channel 25 (not yet confirmed).
The semi final draw of the Benson & Hedges Cup made live on BBC Radio 5 Live on Monday evening at 4.45pm resulted in the following two legged ties: Manchester Storm v Ayr Scottish Eagles and Cardiff Devils v Newcastle Cobras. Storm will face Ayr first on Friday 31 October face off 7.30 at the Nynex Arena with the return on Saturday 8 November at the Centrum Arena.
There are reports that the Milton Keynes Bladerunner is set to re-open in the near future. The Milton Keynes Citizen said the following: The Bladerunner Ice Arena should be open again within two months, it was revealed this week. Birmingham based company Planet Ice hope to conclude a deal to take over the Bladerunner from the giant First Leisure group within the next few days. Planet Ice managing director Mike Petrouis told the Citizen this week the conclusion of negotiations was "imminent" and his organisation was keen to start work on the rink. He said it would take five or six weeks for refurbishments to be carried out in order to put the rink back into usable condition. He disclosed Planet Ice first approached First Leisure 11 months ago with a bid to take over the rink. At that time there was no response. The rink closed June last year when the previous operators Bladerunner Holdings ran into financial trouble. Once the rink has reopened Planet Ice will assess what future development needs are.
Sun 19 Oct - STORM BEAT AYR AFTER OVERTIME. In front of 8700 at the Nynex Arena, Storm won their first overtime game of the season - and indeed scored their first Superleague win. They so nearly threw it all away as well. Leading 1-0 for a long period from a goal from Wiklander after 9 minutes. In the second period, the majority of the Ayr fans arrived after being delayed and saw Rubachuk credited for a deflected goal off the Ayr netminder. On 41 minutes it was 3-0 with a Jeff Jablonski goal and Storm had surely done enough already. That's obviously what they thought! Ayr scored two quick goals from Montenari and Purdie to make it 3-2 and a contest again. With 90 seconds remaining Steer scored and sent the game into overtime. There were quite a few chances to both sides in overtime before Brad Rubachuk scored the winner with 3 minutes remaining and the crowd went wild.
Also on Sunday, Bracknell Bees defeated Basingstoke Bison 5-3 at The Hive in the Superleague. Crawford opened for the Bees after just 1 minute and then Hurley equalised for Basingstoke two minutes later. Burke then put Bees back infront 2-1 just before the end of the first period. Just after the start of the second, Priest made it 2-2, but 7 minutes later McCosh put Bracknell back into the lead. It was 4-2 on 35 minutes with a goal from Crawford and Gomes made it 5-2 a minute later. The scores remained the same until two minutes from the end when Dungey scored a consolation goal for Basingstoke.
Sat 18 Oct - STORM REACH SEMIS WITH 5-4 WIN AT NYNEX. On Saturday night at the Nynex Arena, Storm faced Bracknell Bees in the second leg of the Benson & Hedges Cup quarter finals. The first leg had finished 2-2 the week before and Storm seemed confident of overcoming the Bees. In front of a crowd of approx 5500 Storm got off to a great start with a goal early on but Bracknell had other ideas. An equaliser came towards the end of the first period and the second period saw two more Bees goals before Storm closed the gap to 3-2 a minute before the end of the second period. The third period saw Storm equalise briefly before Bracknell went back into the lead 4-3. Storm were set to have the last word as they scored two goals to the delight of the crowd and obvious disappointment of the Bracknell players. A scuffle broke out at the start of the presentation ceremony involving most of the players. Mark Bernard won the Bracknell Man of the Match award, while Dave Morrison won the award for Storm. The result means that Storm defeated Bracknell 7-6 on aggregate and will play the semi final 1st Leg on Friday 31 October at the Nynex Arena. The second leg is on Saturday 8 November. The opposition is not yet known.
Also on Saturday, in the other second legs of the Benson & Hedges Cup, Cardiff Devils sealed their place in the semi finals with a great 5-2 win over Sheffield Steelers to win 8-4 on aggregate. Scott Allison opened the scoring for Steelers to level the aggregate score at 3-3 and the score remained the same until near the end of the second period when Cardiff scored to regain the aggregate lead. Cardiff scored four more times to Steelers once to seal their semi final place. Ayr Scottish Eagles travelled to Nottingham with a 4-2 lead from the first leg and won again 4-3 to go through on aggregate 8-5. Newcastle Cobras travelled to Basingstoke with the scored level on 1-1 from the first leg. Brett Stewart scored a hat-trick for the Cobras as they ran out 5-1 winners on the night, 6-2 on aggregate.
Fri 17 Oct - Cardiff Devils travelled to Sheffield in the 1st Leg of the Benson & Hedges Cup and in a firey game won 3-2. Sheffield netminder Hibbert was at fault as the Cardiff winner with the scored tied at 2-2 shot by Moria was deflected into the net by Hibbert. The second leg was set to take place in Cardiff the following night and this performance must have given Cardiff great hope of progressing.
Brad Zavisha who left Storm during the summer and signed for Birmingham Bulls of the East Coast Hockey League in North America. He made his regular season debut this week in the Bulls game at Louisiana Ice Gators. It took just 2 minutes for Brad Zavisha to open the scoring for Birmingham Bulls on a short-handed breakaway. Louisiana equalised after 17 minutes and it remained 1-1 until Birmingham went ahead again when Brad Zavisha scored again just 17 seconds into the second period. Louisiana then scored three times in the second period to bring the score to 4-2. On 47 minutes it was 4-3 when Bulls scored again. The Ice Gators scored three more times before the end of the game to end it 7-3. Brad must have been pleased with his two goals but unhappy at the way his team played overall to go down so heavily in their opening regular season game.
As reported by the Sheffield Steelers Web site (http://www.steelers.co.uk): After nearly two years, Nicky Chinn was cleared by a Leeds Crown Court of charges of wounding with intent following an incident in December 1995 at Crowtree Leisure Centre. Chinn was alleged to have deliberatly speared Newcastle player Ross Lambert in the face, which left Lambert requiring hospital attention. Chinn had always held that the clash was accidental, and today, a jury found in his favour. Chinn spoke of it being a great weight of his, and his family's minds, and said how he cried with joy when the judge said he could step out of the defendant's box in the court. Fellow team-mates cheered from the public gallery when the verdict was announced.
Tue 14 Oct - STORM WIN IN PRAGUE. Manchester Storm defeated Sparta Prague on Tuesday in what has been hailed as their greatest ever win. Having come close to defeating Moscow Dynamo a couple of weeks earlier, it was expected that Sparta in their own rink would be too much for Storm. In front of just under 3000 fans Dominic Maltais scored in the 10th minute to give Manchester Storm a shock lead. Eight minutes later Jaroslav Hlinka levelled the scores. Craig Woodcroft made it 2-1 after 22 minutes but Hlinka scored again after 30 mnutes and the scores were level after 2 periods. Two minutes into the third period Patrik Stefan put Sparta Prague into the lead for the first time in the game and all thoughts of a Storm win were put on ice. Storm spent only 20 seconds behind as Rick Judson equalised at 3-3 and then with seven minutes remaining Jeff Jablonski scored the winner to shock the Prague fans - and indeed most of the Storm fans at home! There was still time for Dominic Maltais and the Prague defender Vaclav Burda to be ejected with a 5+game misconduct penalty in the last minute, but it didn't matter as Storm ended the game 4-3 and completed a fantastic win that almost silenced this season's doubters.
Also on Tuesday in the other game in Division F of the European Hockey League, Moscow Dynamo easily defeated Italian side Bolzano 9-1. The results mean that Manchester Storm have a real chance of finishing second in the group - not necessarily enough to qualify for the later stages, but stranger things have happened.
It is reported that the American millionaire Blake Cullen will return to Birmingham in the next few weeks to discuss further the proposals to bring a Superleague ice hockey team Birmingham. Blake is looking to invest his own money to install an ice pad at the National Indoor Arena or the NEC, after NEC officials admitted that they needed a lottery grant before they could start work on a new arena. Blake Cullen will meet the NEC officials to put his new proposals forward. Hopefully he will get the go-ahead, which will mean Birmingham will at last see Superleague ice hockey in the city. The Team may be called Birmingham Bulldogs or Birmingham Royals.
Sun 12 Oct - STORM DEFEATED AT BASINGSTOKE AFTER OT. Basingstoke Bison ended Storm's run of draws with a 4-3 victory after overtime. Kevin Conway scored the Bison's first goal and then in sudden death overtime scored the fourth and winning goal. This was Storm's third Superleague game and they have not won any of them yet, although the defeat at Basingstoke did yield a point due to the score being 3-3 after 60 minutes.
Also on Sunday in the Superleague, Ayr Scottish Eagles defeated Nottingham Panthers 6-3 with Jamie Steer scoring twice for Ayr. Sheffield Steelers defeated Newcastle Cobras 4-1 at the Sheffield Arena with Scott Allison scoring twice for Steelers. Cardiff Devils beat Basingstoke Bison 6-3 with Steve Thornton getting the scoring under way for Cardiff after just 8 seconds.
Sat 11 Oct - DRAW FOR STORM IN B&H CUP AT BRACKNELL. Storm continued their remarkable run of draws with another - this time 2-2 at Bracknell Bees in the 1st Leg of the Quarter Final of the Benson & Hedges Cup. After a goalless first period, Gomes opened the scoring for Bracknell on 22 minutes before Mike Morin equalised after 33 minutes. Craig Woodcroft put Storm 2-1 ahead on 45 minutes but Bracknell equalised just 12 seconds later. The final score remained 2-2 to set up an exciting second leg in Manchester on Saturday 18th October.
Also on Saturday, in other B&H Cup Quarter Final 1st leg games, Basingstoke Bison travelled to Newcastle Cobras and drew 1-1. In the first live SKY game of the season, Ayr Scottish Eagles defeated Nottingham Panthers 4-2 at the Centrum Arena.
Sheffield Steelers have suspended forward Tim Cranston for one week without pay. Cranston is allegedly involved in the promotion of a new sports bar opening near to Sheffield Arena. Sheffield Steelers club manager Steve Crowther felt that Cranstons "other" role as a lawyer had brought him into conflict with the Steelers business interests. Tim said he was involved in the launch of the Players bar project as a professional lawyer rather than in any Steelers organised personal appearance role. The ban means that Cranston will miss the Sheffield Steelers home game on Sunday 12 October against Newcastle Cobras.
Cardiff Devils have sold the Wales National Ice Rink (now called Galaxy 101 Ice House) to a company called Compco Holdings. They will lease it back for the next three years after which Cardiff hope to have their new Arena built.
Tue 7 Oct - STORM DRAW IN NOTTINGHAM. In the first full commentary ice hockey match ever broadcasted on BBC GMR, Storm travelled to Nottingham Panthers on Tuesday evening and drew 5-5 after overtime. On 4 minutes, Jeff Tomlinson opened the scoring for Storm to give them a 1-0 lead. Jamie Leach equalised for Nottingham after 10 minutes of the game and then both teams had a goal ruled out. The period ended 1-1. On 21 minutes, Dominic Maltais put Storm back into the lead. On 30 minutes Brad Rubachuk put Storm 3-1 up. Panthers closed to 3-2 but Dominic Maltais scored Storm's fourth before the end of the second to make the score 4-2. Brent Bobyk scored for Nottingham to make the score 4-3 and then with 15 minutes remaining, Jeff Jablonski scored the fifth goal for Storm. Nottingham turned on the pressure and Kraig Nienhuis equalised to make it 5-5. The score remained the same and so it was onto overtime. The radio commentary that I had been listening to on and off whilst being otherwise occupied, even carried on after 10.00 to cover overtime, which I was grateful to be able to hear whilst driving down the M62 and then annoying pedestrians with it through Whitefield! Well done to GMR, Andy Costigan and Jack Dearden for the coverage. The game itself remained fairly even in overtime with both sides having chances to win it. Storm have now played two games and both have been drawn after overtime - it is looking like being a tight league this season.
The Superleague have announced the successor to John Lord as Ice Hockey Superleague Chief Executive. He is the former Great Britain (field) hockey goaltender Ian Taylor. He won a Gold medal in 1988 and will take up the position in December.
Sun 5 Oct - Ayr Scottish Eagles beat Newcastle Cobras 5-1 at the Centrum Arena. Bracknell Bees drew 2-2 with Nottingham Panthers after overtime. Cardiff Devils drew 3-3 with Basingstoke Bison after overtime at the Galaxy 101 Ice House in a controversial game.
Sat 4 Oct - STORM DRAW WITH CARDIFF IN STORMY GAME AT NYNEX. In the Superleague opener at the Nynex Arena on Saturday night, Storm and Cardiff Devils fought out a 3-3 draw that also included the worst refereeing decision that I've ever seen! Cardiff opened the scoring in the first period on the powerplay with a goal from Thornton. Storm hit the post from a Jago shot just before the end of the first period and it was felt that they should have been level given the amount of chances squandered. Dominic Maltais did the honours and put Storm level after 2 minutes of the second period but Pope scored soon afterwards to put Cardiff back into the lead. Kris Miller levelled the scores again on 32 minutes and Storm were really starting to come out on top. The end of the second period saw Cardiff take the lead again - this time with a goal that didn't look like it had crossed the line. However, the Hodge goal stood and there wasn't really too much of an argument about it. Into the third period and with just over 6 minutes remaining, the contraversy heightened as referee Rowe saw fit to award Stefan Ketola a completely unnecessary 5+game penalty for the crime of having your head smashed against the ice! Naturally the crowd were angry - very angry. The bluecoat stewards looked very worried and in block 103 where I was, it was not far away from a riotous reaction - a much worse reation than any other I've seen to a refereeing decision. It took until the end of the third period before the crowd had calmed down - even though Storm managed their equaliser shortly afterwards. Wiklander scored the goal with minutes remaining and Storm had the powerplay to defend through, which they just about did. So, it went to overtime. Storm had their chances but there was no further scoring and the game remained tied 3-3 for Storm's first Superleague point.
Also on Saturday, Basingstoke Bison and Sheffield Steelers fought out a 1-1 draw after overtime. It was 0-0 after two periods before Bison scored in the third and then Steelers scored the equaliser with 2 minutes remaining. The sudden-death overtime remained goalless. Nottingham Panthers beat Ayr Scottish Eagles 1-0 at Lower Parliament Street in one of the lowest scoring games in UK history. Hadden scored the only goal in the first period.
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