London Cup Action

Chelmsford Chieftains took a break from league hockey at the weekend, taking to the ice on both nights in London Cup action. Chieftain’s fate had already been decided as they began the night on minus 1 point after the league decided to punish the City’s icemen for a pre-Christmas cancellation. But pride was still at stake as the Chieftains faced Romford and Invicta in back-to-back games.

On Saturday the Chieftains travelled to Romford with a full squad apart from Grant Bartlett. Chieftain’s top scorer won’t play for the remainder of the season due to his leg injury. Luca Tessadri was between the posts with joint #1 netminder Sonny Phillips watching from the bench.

It turned out to be a great night for the traveling fans who travelled along the A12 to support the Black ’n’ Gold. And they were rewarded when the Chieftains posted a solid 7-1 victory on the road to earn Essex bragging rights till the next time. Two goals each from Cameron Bartlett and Matt Turner with further strikes from Darren Brown, Andy Munroe, and Kian Lloyd. Tessadri earned the man-of-the-match beers for his performance in the net.
On Sunday Invicta Dynamos were the visitors to Riverside for the second London Cup match of the weekend. James Ayling and Grant Bartlett were missing from the Chieftains line-up. Invicta were down to eleven players on the ice due to Illness, the main loss was probably ex-Chieftain Juraj Huska. On the subject of former Chieftains, Ben Clements took his place between the posts for the Dynamos. Chieftains netminders changed roles from the previous evening with Tessadri on the bench with Phillips starting.

Rumours were rife about a revenge match after a physical encounter in Kent a few weeks ago. But it was far from that as both sides played their part in what was an excellent game of hockey.  Chieftains took the game to the Dynamos as they had done the previous evening but unlike that game the Dynamos defence were solid. At 8:38 the goal light was lit for the first time in the evening. Unfortunately, it was the away supporters celebrating the first goal of the game. Slovakian Forward Tomas Banovsky on target for the Dynamos.

At 16:41 Chieftain Billy Thorpe was sent to the sin bin for interference giving Invicta a Powerplay. They put the pressure on the Chieftains net passing around the zone. Bartlett intercepted a pass and found himself in a one-on-one situation with netminder Clements. His shot was placed perfectly low to Clements left, into the net to tie the game at 1-1 with 17:45 minutes of the game gone.

The period ended with both teams’ level, but Chieftains had just shaded the percentage of play in the opening period. The second period began with a penalty just 50 seconds in when Tom Davis boarded Stanislav Lascek into the rink surround giving the Chieftains an early powerplay chance. But before the hockey began it was time for the showdown between Chieftain Bailey Chittock and Dynamo Mason Webster. The two had been waiting for the right opportunity to take the gloves off. Webster was the aggressor, but Chittock grabbed at the shirt and pulled it over Webster’s head. Punches from both players rained in and both players went to the ice. The officials got in between the pair who ended their dispute with a handshake. Unfortunately, Chittock’s night was ended as he injured his arm as he hit the ice. Both players were given a five-minute penalty for fighting.

When the play resumed and with the man advantage Chieftains piled on the pressure. Davis returned to the ice after serving his penalty and teams were back to five-on-five. But Chieftains kept up the attack and the pressure forced another Dynamos penalty when defence-man Rich Harris’s puck clearance went above the plexiglass. This was a delay of game and gave Chieftains another powerplay.

Chieftains weren’t going to pass on this chance and Turner pass was met by Bartlett with a fierce one-timer slap-shot. The puck flew into the net, Clements beaten by the speed of flight. 2-1 Chieftains with 24:43 gone on the clock. Under 4 minutes later Bartlett secured his hat-trick with the aid of Lascek and young Chris Beckett. The latter was making a nuisance of himself in front of the Invicta goal crease and Lascek spotted Bartlett ghosting in towards the back post. His pass was perfection and Bartlett poked the puck into an open net.  But Invicta were far from out of it and it was game-on once again when Harris struck for the visitors at 33:26 and again at 39:50, just ten seconds before the second-period break. So both teams left the ice level at 3-3 and everything to play for in the final twenty minutes of play.

3:31 into the period and the ref’s arm was raised once again to signal a penalty as a Henry Aiken trip on Bartlett left the Chieftains forward in the back of the net instead of the puck. Laslek won the face-off to start the powerplay and the puck found Ethan Reid on the blue-line. His shot/pass to Lascek was cleverly redirected past Clements at close range to retake the lead. 4-3 at 43:38.  The Dynamos pushed for the equaliser but Phillips stood firm in the Chieftains net. With Invicta pressing Chieftain Sam Austin won the puck and skated into the Invicta Defensive zone along with Brown and Turner. His pass to Brown was saved at close range but Turner latched on to the rebound and the puck was in the net to give his side a two goal cushion with ten minutes remaining.

With three minutes remaining and the game gone Webster cross-checked Lascek and he was sent to the bin for two minutes. His frustration towards the officials was rewarded with a ten-minute misconduct and he was shown from the ice.  Banovsky was the next to enter the sin-bin with a boarding penalty with just one minute remaining. With just twelve seconds left the puck was in the net again and once again it was Bartlett who scored Chieftains 6th and a goal took his personal tally to four. This was the best of all. Andy Munroe picked out Bartlett on the blue-line who pulled the trigger. Luckily nobody attempted to get in front of the speeding puck and it hit the roof of the net, knocking Clements water-bottle off the top of the net adding to the effect.

The buzzer sounded and the home fans celebrated a 6-3 victory which in the London Cup would count for nothing. But for pride, it was a big win and both sets of players shook hands at the end of the game to end the hostility. Both sets of fans appreciated what was a great game of hockey.

This weekend the Chieftains return to league action with the league-leading Streatham Redhawks the visitors to Riverside on Sunday. Chieftains are fighting for the runners-up slot to get a good play-off draw at the end of the regular season. Face-off is at 6pm and tickets are available via the Chieftains website www.chelmsfordchieftains.com

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