Chelmsford Chieftains traveled to Milton Keynes on Sunday to face the MK Thunder in NIHL Division One South, would it be a trick or treat for the traveling Black ’n’ Gold Army.
Chieftains had a full bench apart from the ‘young guns’ who were in NIHL Division 2 South action, icing for the Warriors at Riverside. Michael Gray was in between the posts for the Chieftains, backed up by Sonny Phillips who shares netminding duties for the team.
Chieftains took an early lead at 13:48, Nathan Darmanin scoring his first goal since his summer move from Slough Jets. Chieftains fans were still celebrating when the Bartlett Twins linked up to double the advantage, Cameron with the assist and Grant finishing the move.
At 17:31 Chieftains hit penalty trouble and James Pentecost was given a 2+2 for high-sticks followed into the bin by Matt Turner less than a minute later having been called for delay of game. This put MK on a two man advantage as the period drew to a close. Chieftains held firm and the period ended with Chieftains taking a 2-0 lead back to the dressing room. The Black ’n’ Gold were dominant, outshooting the Thunder in the first period. Gray faced thirteen shots with Matt Friend in the Thunder goal facing twenty-seven.
The second period began pretty much like the first period ended with Chieftains in the sin-bin. Forty-one seconds after the restart defenceman Andrew Munroe was sent to the box for tripping. This gave MK another powerplay opportunity which this time they weren’t going to let it pass them by. Alex Whyte scored to make it a one-goal game at 2-1 beating Gray at close quarters.
Just after the thirty-minute mark, a fine attacking link-up between Turner, Ethan Reid, and James Ayling ended with the latter beating Friend to restore the Chieftains two goal cushion. But the Thunder refused to be silenced and just thirty seconds later they lit the goal lamp. Goal number two for the Whyte on the night to keep his team on the Chieftains coat-tails.
Bailey Chittock then paid the penalty for a trip and the Chieftains once again had to ward off another Thunder powerplay, but Chieftain’s defense kept the door firmly shut. Just after returning to full-strength Munroe’s pass from the defensive zone to Grant Bartlett was redirected straight onto the stick of Pentecost. His shot into the roof of the net gave Chieftains a 4-2 lead which they took into the period break, Chieftains once again showed attacking dominance, Gray facing 12 shots with his rival shot-stopper facing 23.
Four minutes after the puck was dropped for the final period, Chieftains increased their goal tally when Grant Bartlett’s fierce slapshot proved unstoppable. Pentecost with the assist as the Chieftains were beginning to stretch away from the Thunder. But the action wasn’t done as MK’s Leo Harris’s slash was handed a two minute penalty by the officials. And Chieftains captain Julian Smith was rewarded with a 5+Game penalty for handing out some of his own personal punishment for the crime at 47:43. So as Smith walked to the dressing room, coach Joe Wilson rallied his team for one final push.
Thunder had no option but to push up high into the Chieftains defensive zone as they looked to try and get back into the game. But with five minutes remaining the Chieftains sealed a 6-2 victory as Turner once again was the provider and once again Bartlett was on the scoresheet, this time Cameron making game, set and match and giving the fans a Happy Halloween.
Chieftains Man of the Match was Grant Bartlett on a dominant evening which saw the Black ’n’ Gold outshoot the opposition by 62 shots to 42.
At Riverside, the Warriors didn’t have an answer to the league leaders Guildford Phoenix and were soundly beaten 7-0 on home ice. A loss but more experience gained by the “Young Guns”, this team will hopefully contain the future Chieftains and is the bridge between junior and senior hockey. Man of the match for the Chieftains was Kian Lloyd whilst the Phoenix netminder Petr Čech was their man of the match for his 31 shot shut-out. And if you’re wondering, yes, it was the Chelsea and Arsenal former goalkeeper. The most capped Czech international loves his ice hockey which is a pretty popular sport in his home country.
Chieftain’s next home game is this Saturday, November 6th when Oxford City Stars make the journey to Riverside Leisure Centre. Another tough encounter which faces off at 5.45pm and tickets are available via the Chieftains website at www.chelmsfordchieftains.com