Chelmsford Chieftains were back to full-strength just a week after Covid-19 decimated the squad. Coach Joe Wilson kept faith with young netminder Luca Tessadri who has stepped up to the plate magnificently since the departure of Michael Gray at the end of 2021. Sonny Phillips was on the bench as backup netminder for the visit to Streatham, the home of the NIHL Division 1 South league-leading Redhawks.
From the drop, the Redhawks took control and put the Chieftains under pressure. But as they played the puck around the Chieftains defensive zone looking for the early goal. But Ethan Reid intercepted the puck and his pass sent Cameron Bartlett on a breakaway with Tom Annetts in the Redskins net to beat. He skated in on net and skated across goal, firing the puck past the Streatham netminder into the roof of the net. 1-0 Chieftains lead with just 4:50 on the game clock.
But the Redhawks hit back just two minutes later when Ivan Antonov replied to level the scoring at 1-1.
Less than a minute later the home fans were celebrating again as the Redhawks took the lead, Sam Waller beating Tessadri for the second time of the night.
The defence looked shaky as Streatham pushed forward to pile more pressure on the Chieftains net. At 13:45 the pressure paid off and the red goal light was lit once again behind the Chieftains net to signal a Redhawks goal. To make matters worse the home team scored twice more to take a 5-1 lead into the first break.
Coach Wilson and his players needed the break and came out in the second period looking to steady the ship. The game began to look a little more even as both teams had chances to add to their tally. At 26:20 Antanov scored with a shot that was seen late by Tessadri as one of his defencemen was hampering his line of vision. That was a hat-trick for the young Russian who was on fire.
Chieftains managed to prevent any more scoring during the second period but the damage had already been done in the first twenty minutes of play. Both teams headed to the 2nd period break with Streatham leading 6-1.
Chieftains came out in the final period on the attack and were rewarded after two minutes when Darren Brown slotted home past Annetts. But as the Chieftains fans celebrated it was Antanov again who silenced them by scoring his fourth strike of the night just seven seconds after the restart.
Chieftain Stanislav Lascek netted on the 45:00 minute mark making it 7-3, but the Redhawks remained focused and the game ended with Chieftains paying the price for a poor first period.
TJ Fillery was the Chieftains Man of the Match.
On Sunday Solent Devils were the visitors for Chieftains’ second game of the weekend.
Chieftains were at full strength with Sonny Phillips back in the net. Joint number one Luca Tessadri was playing in Cardiff for the Chelmsford Warriors. So Billy Cook was the backup netminder for the evening. Christian Cole was protecting the net for the Devils.
Chieftains looked confident from the off and attacked the Solent net, but at 2:19 it was the Devils celebrating when Mason Wild beat Phillips to give his team an early lead.
Chieftains kept pressing and it was clear from early on that Cole was on red hot form as he continued to hold on to everything that was fired at him. But at 17:31 the defensive wall was beaten at last when a fierce shot from Cameron Bartlett was deflected in the net via the body of James Pentecost to even things up at 1-1 at the end of the first period.
In the second period, it was mainly the Chieftains that dominated the play, but the Devil’s defence was once again becoming hard to break down. But even so, the Chieftains still managed to rain in twenty-five shots on Cole whose confidence was growing with every save. At 40:00 minutes the buzzer sounded to end a goalless second period with Cole facing 25 shots and Phillips only 7 in the Chieftains net. The home team left the ice frustrated at having nothing to show for their hard work and the high percentage of the play.
The third and final period was very much a carbon copy of the previous with Chieftains looking for the winner and Devils playing a great defensive game. The game ended 1-1 and even a further five minutes of overtime couldn’t break the deadlock.
So next came the dreaded penalties which is never a good omen for the men in the Black ‘n’ Gold. And it wasn’t the biggest surprise when Devils captain Alex Murray’s shot beat Phillips to give his team the extra point and a penalty shot win. Michal Korenko was MOTM for the Chieftains with yes you’ve guessed it Murray getting the beers for his performance in the Solent net having saved 72 of the 73 shots on him.
It was one of those nights where Chieftains deserved something for their hard work and dominance of play, but it just wasn’t going to be their night.