Chelmsford Chieftains were almost at full-strength, Gary Brown being the only player on the injury list and Coach Joe Wilson opted for Sonny Phillips between the pipes. Slough Jets brought a very strong side which included the very experienced Lukas Smital who has spent much of his career playing in top leagues in the USA before making the UK his home and plying his trade with top sides such as Guildford Flames and Bracknell Bees. Keeping it in the family was his son Matt Smital in the net for the visitors. From the off both teams went on the offence and it clear that the young Chieftains side was going to have a tough day in the office. At 6:54 Chieftains got their first powerplay chance when former Chieftains Luke Reynolds was given a 2 minute rest in the sin bin for tripping. With the extra man Chieftains lay siege to the Jets net and the deadlock was broken at 7:55 when Brad Moore’s shot from the blue line was redirected past Matt Smital by Courtney Grant giving Chieftains the lead. Six minutes later the Jets were level, Lukas Smital showing how dangerous he is was should he be given space. The 44 year-old intercepted a pass and went past two defenceman to strike the puck high past Phillips to make it 1-1. The visitors started to look the better team as the opening period went on with Chieftains looking venerable with every Jets raid. Phillips in the Chieftains net pulled off a string of massive saves including one which could already be a contender for the save of the season. But at 14:47 their persistence was rewarded when Daniel Rose Scored to put the Jets ahead for the first time in the game. Two minutes before the break and with Moore in the sin bin after receiving a two minute tripping penalty, Timo Lindgren netted a power play goal for the Jets to stretch their lead to 3-1. As the buzzer went to end the period a frustrated Chieftains team headed to the changing room and the fans wondered what the team’s new coach could pass his first test of what has so far been a flawless season. The second period couldn’t have started any worse if you were a Chieftains fan when James Ayling headed to the bin just 41 seconds in after he was adjudged to have slashed an opponent. The Jets once again looked to make the most of the extra skater but as they passed the puck around the zone Chieftains forward TJ Fillery intercepted a wayward Jets pass. His pass set Moore away one-on-one with Smital in the Jets goal. Moore won the dual and the puck struck the back of the net to make it 2-3. Five minutes later and the Chieftains were level again enjoying an extra skater as James Talbot put in a late hit on Justin Robinson which earned him a two minute break in the sin bin. Ayling on the assist with the goal awarded to Charlie Phillips, but this was not without controversy. Phillips narrowed angled slap shot was ruled by referee Solovjovs to have entered the net and come straight back into play. The Jets were furious as the goal was signalled but their complaints were waved away and the goal stood. Emotions were running high with both teams given powerplay chances as the sin bin became the most popular seat in the house. But just as Chieftains had done earlier in the game it was now the Jets turn to celebrate a short-handed goal, Rose with the steal and Greg Norris with the finish at 35:21. Just as it was looking like once again the Chieftains would have their heads down as they returned to the changing room to end the period, a fierce slapshot from Jake Luton was tipped in by Moore, redirecting the puck past a already committed Smital to make it level at 4-4 going into the final 20 minutes of play. Three minutes in at 43:26 up popped Chieftain’s captain Ross Brears took the lead role in what was becoming an epic game of ice hockey. Ayling’s pin-point pass finished in style by the skipper, giving his team a 5-4 lead but it was clear for all to see that this drama still had plenty of twists still to come. The speedy Chieftains now looked to be getting to grips with the Jets style of play and began to look the better team but once again one lack of concentration especially in a game such as ice hockey and you get punished. Chieftains on the attack, Norris steals the puck and his shot evades Phillips to draw level once again at 5-5. Just after the restart Ross Cowan gave away a soft penalty as his attempted clearance hit the net above the Flexi which is a two minute delay of game infringement. 30 seconds later and the Jets were ahead again taking full advantage of their powerplay Lindgren scored his 2nd of the game. It was now 6-5 with just over four minutes of play remaining. Could the Chieftains bounce back once again? Bounce back they did and with the away fans still in goal celebration mode up pops Grant again, a real menace for any netminder in front of goal. His determination to be first to the puck paid off once again and a well directed pass from Fillery was finished brilliantly by the 24 old-forward who has returned to hockey after a break. Now 6-6 with a little over 3 minutes to play, the fans from both sides were now in full voice as they encouraged their team to snatch victory at the death. The stage had been set for an exciting climax to an enthralling game of hockey. One minute remaining and Brears pass finds Tom Wilson who looked up to see Ayling on the blue line closely guarded by two Jets defencemen. His pass was perfect and a good first touch from the Ayling split the defence and he skated through the gap to find himself one-on-one with Smital. This was the game…the defining moment. Would he keep his nerve? As Smital approached he calmly slotted the puck though the oncoming netminder’s legs to cement a fantastic 7-6 victory for his team. The fans lifted the roof off as they celebrated the win, meaning the Chieftains retain their 100% start to the season, winning four games on the bounce. Next up for Chieftains is a home game with local rivals London formally Romford next Sunday. 6.30pm Face-off. One not to be missed.
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