Chieftains On Fire As They Spoil Redhawks 100% Record

Chelmsford Chieftains 2 – Streatham Redhawks 0

Chelmsford Chieftains have enjoyed a great week, both off and on the ice. Coach Joe Wilson secured two strong signings in the week prior to Sunday’s visit of the unbeaten league leaders, Streatham Redhawks. On Thursday they announced the signing of 24 year-old forward Bailey Chittock, returning to the ice after a few years absence. On Sunday James Pentecost became a full-time member of the Black ’n’ Gold, just one week after returning to Haringey Huskies. Pentecost made three loan appearances for the Chieftains and impressed both coaches and fans alike. A large crowd made their way to Riverside, including a large contingent of Redhawks fans. Streatham were on a eight game unbeaten run and for the Chieftains, this was going to be their biggest test since ice hockey came out of lockdown.

Chieftains were at full-strength and Michael Gray was chosen as the starting netminder.
The game began with Chieftains putting early pressure on the Redhawks and forcing Tom Annetts to make some early saves, including an outstanding stop from Grant Bartlett. After weathering an early storm the league leaders started to return the favour and the game became an end-to-end encounter. Gray was the next to be brought into action between the Chieftains sticks, a fierce shot from Ivan Antonov smothered.

At 7.02 referee Jurijs Solovjovs signalled the first penalty of the night. Chieftain forward Darren Brown and the visiting Sam Waller both given two minutes in the sin-bin after clashing on the boards. Brown called for interference and Waller punished for roughing after retaliating to Brown’s challenge.
With the initial penalty occurring in the Chieftains defensive zone the puck was dropped to restart the game. Liam Chong won the face-off and the Chieftains attacked. Once again Annetts saved the day after both Bartlett twins Cameron and Grant had slapshots pushed away.
The latter part of the opening period saw Chieftains defence soaking up the pressure. Streatham piled on the pressure but Gray and his defensive wall looked secure. At the buzzer both teams headed back goalless to the changing room for the first break. No score but the fans had been throughly entertained.

The second period began and once again nobody was able to make the breakthrough, both defences and offences playing their part. With 31:07 on the game-clock Chieftains were awarded the first powerplay of the night. Harvey Briggs was given a two-minute penalty for interference and Chieftains had a man advantage. Streatham lay siege to the Redhawks goal and the visitors looked like they had ridden out the storm as Briggs prepared to return to the ice. But with just five seconds of the penalty remaining Chieftains took the lead. Grant Bartlett passed to James Ayling waiting on the blue line. Ayling passed the puck to Matt Turner as he entered the zone. Turner skated down the right-wing, turned and spotted Ayling alone and waiting for the return. He swept the puck along the ice and Ayling made perfect contact, the puck finding a small gap between the glove of Annetts and the post. The home fans erupted and the Chieftains held firm to take a slender 1-0 lead into the final period.

As the puck dropped for the final twenty minutes of play Chieftains knew what to expect as the Redhawks were desperate to keep their 100% record alive. As expected they piled on the pressure, but Gray in particular looked unbeatable, soaking up every shot fired his way. A shut-out looked on the cards, but at a hockey game you never mention the shut-out word as that brings bad luck. Captain Julian Smith marshalled his defensive troops as wave after wave of attacks were thwarted. But the Redhawks had to keep one eye on the Chieftains offence who could break quickly and seal the game. As the clock ticked down Streatham began to leave gaps as they took the chance. The returning Bailey Chittock was unlucky not to get his name on the scoresheet as his slapshot hit the framework.
Six minutes remaining and it was fingernail biting time for the home fans. Andrew Munroe was unhappy to receive a penalty for tripping and the Streatham coach immediately called the time-out as they planned one last throw of the dice. Could Chieftains complete the penalty kill? The answer was positive and with the the two minute countdown on Annetts began looking to his bench, waiting for the nod to skate to the bench and leave his goal unguarded. The chance came and he left the ice to be replaced by a forward to increase his teams fire power. Chieftains were now under full attack but with fifteen seconds of the game remaining Grant Bartlett cut out the puck on the boards deep in the Chieftains half. He hit the puck along the length of the ice and it was like watching a slow-motion replay as it slid between the posts and over the goal line to cement a 2-0 win to the delight of the Black ’n’ Gold Army.
A fantastic result and team performance with netminder Gray awarded with the Man of the Match for a brilliant 56 shot shut-out.

In NIHL 2 South the Warriors travelled to Cambridge to take on Lee Valley Lions. A close game which ended in a 3-2 Warriors victory. Goals from Rowan Champney, Nick Green and George Taylor.

This weekend Chieftains travel over the Queen Elizabeth 2 Bridge to face Invicta Dynamos on Saturday. On Sunday they face Essex rivals the Raiders Juniors from Romford at Riverside, 6pm face-off in the NIHL 1 London Cup. Tickets available via the Chieftains website www.chelmsfordchieftains.com

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