It’s been a big week for Chelmsford Chieftains both on and off the ice. Off the ice Grant and Cameron Bartlett have returned to the Black and Gold after a short stint with Invicta Dynamos. Firm favourites with the fans and a massive boost to the team’s title hopes this season. On the ice the unbeaten streak continues as the Chieftains prepare to wave goodbye to Riverside for the remainder of the season. Chieftains met Haringey Huskies at Riverside on Sunday and were missing forward James Ayling, but were boosted by the return of the Bartlett twins. James Tipple was given the place between the posts for Chieftains whilst ex-Chieftain David Wride was in net for the Huskies. Chieftains got off to a dominant start and went three goals up within the first five minutes with goals from Courtney Grant, Jake Luton and Ross Brears. It was already looking like Wride was in for a busy night as the Huskies defence struggled to contain the fast-skating Chieftains forwards. At 5.04 with Chieftains fans still celebrating goal number three, another ex-Chelmsford player and now Huskies captain, Ben Osborne popped up and poked the puck past Tipple giving his side a glimmer of hope at 3-1. At 5.48 Tipple was given a two minute penalty for delay of game giving Huskies their first powerplay of the night. The visitors tried to capitalise on the extra skater but Chieftain forward Brad Moore intercepted the puck and his pass to TJ Fillery was finished off in style, the puck going low into the bottom corner. A short-handed goal at 7:10 The free scoring Chieftains forward line continued to pressurise the visiting Huskies and goals from returnee Grant Bartlett and the Leagues top scorer Brears gave their side a 6-1 lead at the end of the first period. Four minutes into the second period and Brears secured his hat-trick The game was already in the bag, the visitors unable to cope with the confident league leaders. Three further Chieftain strikes in the second period with the Huskies managing to regain some pride with a powerplay goal, giving the Chieftains an unassailable 10-2 lead going into the final period. Both Fillery and Grant Bartlett doubling their evening score tally with Cameron Bartlett also netting to signal his return to the club. The atmosphere was red hot inside Riverside rink, the fans really getting behind their team. And at 48:53 it reached boiling point as the Bartlett’s marked their return by demonstrating the other side of their game. A cross-check from Cameron sent one of the Huskies crashing heavily into the boards. With the ref concentrating on getting one twin to the box, the other dropped gloves and Grant went toe-to-toe with Luke Martin-Digby both putting in some good shots before the latter went down to the ice. After a lengthy discussion between the officials Grant was given a 2+2, Cameron a 5+game and Martin Digby a match penalty. Chieftains then returned to scoring duties with James Dimond and Grant Bartlett netting, the latter securing his hat-trick on his return to the Black and Gold. Lee Mercer scored his second and his teams third for the Huskies with a minute remaining. But nothing could take away from another superb performance and 12-3 victory, coach Joe Wilson has certainly put a great team together for 2018-19. On the subject of 2018-19 this forthcoming weekend sees Chieftains final games at Riverside due to the temporary rink closure. On Saturday they face Swindon Wildcats at Riverside (5.40pm face-off) with Peterborough Phantoms the visitors on Sunday (6.30pm face-off). From then on all ‘Home’ games will be played at Lee Valley, a 30 mile trip from Chelmsford. The club will be hoping that their loyal fans will keep the faith as it’s going to be tough financially with added rink and travel costs. If you’re not planning to travel or just want to see a game of ice hockey in the city then this weekend is your final chance of the season.
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