CHIEFTAINS ARE TOO STRONG FOR THE PHOENIX!
CHIEFTAINS 5 - PHOENIX 0
November 26th 2017
It was a game that, on paper, should have been close and evenly matched. Chelmsford Chieftains, favourites to be challenging for the league title again this season, welcomed brand new team Guildford Phoenix to Riverside. Phoenix have turned out to be one of the league's dark horses this season, taking wins from some big teams and, even though they lost out to the in-form Bracknell Hornets last weekend, they pushed them all the way to the final buzzer. Both teams came into Sunday night's game having won on Saturday, Chieftains with a scrappy 7-3 win at Alexandra Palace over Haringey Huskies, Phoenix taking an 8-4 victory against Cardiff.
It didn’t take Chieftains long, just 1:47 into the first period and import Filip Supa fired the home side into the lead from close range. Just seconds after the restart, Supa was in the thick of things again as he rang a shot off the post of Sam Calder, before he was hit hard by Joe Richardson, power play Chieftains. While the home side managed to set up on the man advantage, Phoenix were able to keep Chiefs chances largely to the outside and comfortably killed the penalty. But just before the 5 minute mark, Cameron Bartlett, from a tight angle just below the faceoff circle, fired a shot that found a space just above Calder’s left shoulder, doubling the lead.
Phoenix regrouped and responded, managing to apply some pressure of their own in the Chieftains end, forcing Sonny Phillips in goal to make a spectacular quadruple save. Chieftains found themselves on the power play again when an unlucky bounce made the puck hit a Guildford player as he was coming onto the ice, too many men the call as the player he was replacing hadn’t yet left the ice. Again, Phoenix frustrated the Chelmsford power play, with little more than a couple of chances from the outside again. Penalty over, Gary Brown made an attempt to clear the puck, but inadvertently shot it straight over the plexi, attracting a 2 minute delay of game penalty for his trouble. Phoenix took up camp in the Chieftains zone, Chieftains cleared. Phoenix set up again, Chieftains cleared. This time, Supa chased the puck down the ice and, as it fell to a Phoenix player, he poked his stick in, stole the puck and slotted it past Calder to make it 3-0. Phoenix immediately called a time out and replaced Calder with back up Nettie Jacob Stoodley. With a minute remaining, Ross Brears went one on one with Stoodley but had the puck roll off his stick and couldn’t get a good enough shot away. At the end of the first period the score remained 3-0.
With Phoenix woefully outshot 24-6 in the first period, Chieftains fans hoped for more of the same from their team. Their hearts stopped with 30 seconds gone, however, when Guildford broke out of their zone 2 on 1, forcing Phillips into action. On the attack at the other end, Richardson tried to lay a big hit on Chiefs Tom Wilson, only to find that Wilson doesn’t move that easily, and Richardson was left sat on the ice with egg on his face and snow on the seat of his pants! Following some more pressure from Phoenix, Chieftains had another lucky escape when, as they tried to set up and break out of their zone, Andrew Hemmings intercepted a pass firing a rocket at Phillips only to see his shot saved. Just before the halfway mark, with Chieftains once again on the attack, Anthony Leone and Ross Brears combined in the face off circle, the pass going out to Rob Veares on the left point, who sent a laser guided missile that seemed to dodge every player on the way into the back of the net. 4-0 Chieftains. Another chance for Chieftains as the puck was loose and bouncing around the crease in front of Stoodley, but nobody could get a stick on it to poke it home. Phoenix then seemed to come alive, with an extended period of pressure while they set up camp in the Chieftains end. First, Jacob Rondeau-Smith forced Phillips to make an acrobatic diving save, then Bailey Wooton and Harry Hatfield rang the puck off the post within seconds of each other. With Guildford looking like they were starting to get the better of the play, it was a relief to hear the buzzer signalling the end of the period.
Into the third, and Chieftains started the period with just over a minute of power play time and, although they came close, forcing Stoodley to lay down on the puck at one point, again they couldn’t capitalise on the man advantage. Both teams mounted attack after attack, both sets of fans on the edge of their seats as either team looked on the verge of scoring. There were amazing saves from both goalies as both teams were caught on the break and gave up odd man rushes the opposite direction. The pressure paid off for Chieftains, however, when at 49:54 Donald Campbell floated a puck in from the blue line that seemed to take an age to travel the length of the attacking zone and somehow found it’s way over Stoodley’s shoulder for goal number 5. Phoenix battled hard to get a consolation goal, but everything they threw at Sonny Phillips he managed to stop. 5-0 the final score, the game was close on the ice if not on the scoreboard, not really doing justice to the effort the visitors put in.
Man of the match awards deservedly going to both goalies, Jacob Stoodley for facing 29 shots, and Sonny Phillips for his 31 shot shut out.
CHIEFTAINS CAN'T STOP THE STARS FROM SHINING IN RIVERSIDE
CHIEFTAINS 0 - STARS 4
DECEMBER 3rd 2017
Sunday night at Riverside and Chieftains faced their toughest test of the season so far as they welcomed league leaders Oxford City Stars. Having lost just one game in twelve, and on a nine game winning streak, Stars are currently favourites to lift the league title. Chieftains plan was to stop them in their tracks and start climbing the league themselves. But with a team that is largely unchanged from last seasons Division 1 squad, it was going to be a test of Chieftains character and nerve.
The puck dropped on the game and after just a minute of play Chieftains were on the back foot as Rob Veares was called for hooking, sending Oxford on an early power play. Stars set up in the Chieftains zone, but the home side killed the penalty largely thanks to some stellar goaltending by Sonny Phillips. Oxford appeared to have a game plan, and that was to keep Chieftains from having any time on the puck. And they were sticking to it religiously, allowing Chiefs barely any possession in the opening stages of the match. And it took just 7:14 for it to pay off, Matt Lawday finishing from a nice pass by Josh Florey. Just over a minute later, the puck was in the net again, this time big Dom Hopkins taking a pass on the blue line and skating between the face off circles and wristing a shot just under Phillips’ glove. There was relief for the home side and their fans, however, as referee Richard Adams washed out the goal, the score remaining 1-0 in favour of the visitors. Things weren’t looking good for Chieftains as they started to finish their checks and hit hard, Cameron Bartlett slamming Connor Redmond into the boards and narrowly avoiding penalty time before Anthony Leone skated half way across the width of the ice to finish his check - he didn’t escape the wrath of Mr Adams for that, charging the call. Stars’ second power play not as effective as the first, Chieftains getting the better of the chances shorthanded as, first, Filip Supa skipped between a pair of Oxford defenders to get a breakaway, only to be robbed by Milan Ronai, the Ross Brears skated at speed down the right wing. Chased all the way by a band of Oxford players, he did a 360° spinorama in the face off circle to the left of Ronai, skated into the slot and fired - his shot also saved by the big Hungarian stopper. Although Chieftains managed to apply some pressure to the Stars in the closing minutes of the period, they were unable to capitalise and the period ended with Stars leading 1-0 on the scoreboard and 17-5 in shots on goal.
Period 2 began more sprightly for Chieftains as just a minute in, Cameron Bartlett beat Ronai but his shot came off the top of the crossbar to safety. Moments later, Bartlett, in on goal again, faked a shot to the left of Ronai, then skated to his right forcing him to display his ability to do the splits to make the save. Almost immediately a big gap in the Chieftains defence allowed Oxford to counter attack, Redmond having his attempt on goal guided behind the net where Josh Oliver collected it, skated it round the front and shot low to Phillips’ right side, 2-0 Stars. A minute later, things got desperate for Chieftains as Andrew Cox had a punt and floated a shot in from the blue line which appeared to hit Rob Veares taking a massive change in direction that Sonny Phillips could do nothing about. 3-0 Stars. Oxford took their first penalty of the game just under 27 minutes in, Josh Florey going to the box for high sticks, and giving Chieftains an opportunity to get back into the game. Oxford’s game plan was still keeping Chieftains from getting set up, however, and Oxford cleared the puck over and over. Kamil Kinkor came close to adding to Chieftains woes as he stole the puck of Phillips, who’d gone behind the net to play it, and was only prevented from scoring by some quick thinking poke checks from the Chiefs defence. Phillips redeemed his slip up almost immediately, however, as he made a spectacular diving save on a Michael Whillock shot. A second high sticks penalty for Oxford, this time on Josh Oliver, also came to nothing thanks again to Stars’ game plan. Chieftains did manage to string together some passes to get Leone on goal, only for him to shoot straight into Ronai’s glove. Bartlett managed to let a rocket go from the faceoff circle that Ronai saved but gave up a massive rebound that bounced around the crease that no Chieftains player could get a stick on, Ronai eventually covering for the face off. Just before the break Leone had another chance, firing on Ronai point blank but once again Ronai stonewalled him. Cameron Bartlett then took a golf swing at an Oxford player’s stick, breaking it clean in half and getting himself a 2 minute slashing penalty for his trouble, the period subsequently ending 3-0 in favour of Oxford. A more even period, statistically at least, as the teams had 11 shots on goal each.
The third period came around quickly, and Chieftains needed the biggest third period they’ve ever had. However, the third started as the first did, Oxford not letting Chieftains have any time on the puck. With seven minutes of the period gone, Chieftains had had just two chances, with Ronai equal to both. Then, during a spell of pressure during which Chieftains were cycling the puck well around the Oxford zone, the Stars took possession and countered en masse and descended mob handed on Phillips goal, the Chieftains stopper sprawling across his crease to keep multiple shots out. Dom Hopkins, desperate to get the goal that was owed to him from the first period, fired from the point, the shot hitting Veares stick and deflecting on goal - this time going straight into Phillips’ glove. Just over half way into the period, Bartlett was once again in the penalty box for another slashing call. This time Chieftains weren’t so lucky as Hopkins finally got his reward ripping a laser guided rocket from the top of the slot, making Chieftains pay on the man advantage. Chieftains made an attempt to fight back, Leone having a punt from centre ice forcing Ronai to make a save then has to react quickly to cover the rebound. From the face off, Joe Edwards went coast to coast at speed, a well timed poke check from Phillips’ stick stopping his charge in it’s tracks and sending Edwards sliding past Phillips and left him sat in the net. With the game all but won, Ronai also robbed Brears, who fired point blank, and Ayling who’d made an impressive move down the left wing. In the end, the final buzzer couldn’t come soon enough for Chieftains as Oxford not only got their first ever win at Riverside, but managed to shut out Chieftains on their home ice, and extending their winning streak to 10.
MoM awards going to Milan Ronai of Oxford for his 25 shot shut out, and Danny Wright for Chieftains.
CHIEFTAINS MAKE EARLY ROSTER CHANGE
DECEMBER 7th 2017
Chieftains coach Ben Clements has made a brave move and released top scoring Slovakian forward Filip Supa. His spot has been take by Michal Oravec who last season had spells with both Streatham and Bracknell.
On Supa, clements stated “Decisions like this are never easy to make especially during the season but it is something that I felt I needed to do to help get the team back on track and will now allow me to add to the team in other areas and ensure we carry on in the right direction as a club. Supa is a great professional and I’m sure he will have no problem finding a new team. I would like to thank him for his time and efforts with us and wish him all the best for the future".
Some fans were bemused by the decision as they felt Supa was already making his mark at the club. But that's the coach's shout and a brave one at such a early point of the season.
On Oravec Clements commented "Oravec is a big signing for us, he will add his experience to the team which is something I think we have lacked at times. He will be playing an offensive role to help us climb the table and close the gap at the top. Speaking to him about the season ahead he is committed to the team goals and I believe he is a great addition to our squad.
Michal stated “I’m looking forward to joining the team, We have played less games than the other teams in the league so need to win those games in hand to put us back in the mix for the title and I can’t wait to get back on the ice.
So welcome Michal to Riverside and good luck to Filip as his search for a new club begins.