English Ice Hockey Association (Recreational Section)
Medway Madness v Cardiff Ice Hounds – 20th June 2010
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The Cardiff Ice Hounds took to the road for their longest road trip of the season, travelling down to Gillingham’s Ice Bowl, to face the Medway Madness in their last away match of the group stages of the EIHA Southern Conference.
Travelling without Centres Brian Lewis and David Owen, the Ice Hounds were further weakened when one of their defencemen failed to travel, and faced a stronger Medway roster than had travelled to Cardiff for the Home fixture, which included Madness top scorer, Neil Ratcliffe.
Tired from the mammoth journey from Cardiff to Gillingham, the Ice Hounds kitted up in the less than plush away changing rooms at Gillingham, and took to the ice focused on taking control of the game from the first face-off. With the first shift for the Ice Hounds so-called ‘Kids’ line, the Hounds got off to the start they were looking for, when Steven Donovan (assisted by Ben Brown and Mark Keogh) opened the scoring, at 2:19. The first period was fast paced, end to end hockey, with Madness netminder Mathew Daubney tested time after time, as was Martin Chalke for the Ice Hounds. And it wasn’t until 10:32 that a netminder was beaten again, but unfortunately, the puck was found in the back of the Ice Hounds’ net, as Anthony Wood scored unassisted for Medway.
The Ice Hounds kept their composure, and were rewarded at 17:49, when Gareth Shaw (playing in Centre in Lewis’ absence) assisted Craig Camilleri, to pull the Ice Hounds back into the lead. But less than 18 seconds later, Neil Ratcliffe (assisted by Martin Rider) smoothly worked the Hounds defensive zone and pulled the score back level at 18:07. Under a minute later, Thomas Rider (assisted by Andy Rush) scored the Madness’ third goal (at 18:42) and the Ice Hounds suddenly realised that maybe they had a game on their hands, going into the first break trailing 3-2.
The second period ‘s pace pretty much followed that of the preceeding period, although the tone of the game somewhat soured for the Ice Hounds as the referee started to change his focus from his passion for stick placement at the face-offs in the first period (taking into account that the Gillingham ice pad is void of virtually all the normal markings) and started making text book one way calls, starting with a two minute minor for Hounds’ Captain Lucas Howell, who was called for Interference when he stood his ground, when charged by one of the Madness wingers (at 25:29). Jason Chalke was called for Tripping at 32:08 and less than twenty seconds later, the referee acted in favour of a dive and sent Shaw to the box for the same offence. Frustrated by the spate of calls featuring only Ice Hounds players and also the point blank refusal by the referee to allow either the Ice Hounds Captain or Assistant Captain to address him, Hounds’ Captain – Howell – followed his team mates into the box, to serve a ten minute misconduct penalty (at 33:03). As the second break brought the zamboni onto the slow ice, both teams returned their respective changing rooms, with the score staying at 3-2 in favour of the Madness.
The Cardiff Ice Hounds returned to the ice knowing that with a nil-nil second period, the last twenty minutes of the game, was their time to take back the lead and push for the victory. But just over four minutes into the period Medway’s Christopher Ward challenged Craig Camilleri in the Madness defensive zone, attempting to lift his stick, but unfortunately connected with Camilleri’s face, with the heel of his stick. The cut was substantial, as was the blood and saw the end of Camilleri’s contribution to the match, with Ward receiving a 5 plus match for High Sticks. Suddenly, the Ice Hounds had gone from thinking they had the stronger bench to see the game out, to having to double shift players, to fill the gap left my Camilleri’s departure and a worsening ankle injury for Ben Brown. But to add insult to injury, the Ice Hounds (unsettled by the apparent severity of Camilleri’s injury) failed to capitalise on the Power Play that resulted from Ward’s penalty and Ratcliffe (assisted by Wood) scored a shorthanded goal (at 46:31) to start putting the game beyond the visitors.
Down, but not quite out, the Ice Hounds ran the lines as well as they could and were rewarded for their efforts when Steven Donovan was fed by Christopher Chapman (at 50:30) to reduce the deficit to one goal and keep them in the game. But after a spate of end to end hockey, Medway’s Martin Rider passed the puck to Warren Cook who was drifted in from the Ice Hounds blue line, and cook floated a lob at the Cardiff goal, which beat the screen but also Chalke in goal and effectively put the game beyond the Ice Hounds.
With less than five minutes to go, the injury count on the Ice Hounds bench effected much of the usually dependable fire power and whilst the home team were no doubt happy that they had managed to turn over a ‘top four’ team and keep their hopes of qualifying for the Conference Cup play-offs, the Ice Hounds had to resign themselves to a loss in the knowledge that everyone had dug deep, but the game had just not gone their way.
It’s expected that this week’s training (ahead of Saturday’s match) will be a sober affair, with many players resting in hope of recovery by the weekend.
The Cardiff Ice Hounds face Guildford Smoke in their penultimate home fixture on the 26th June 2010. This really is a must win game for the Cardiff Ice Hounds, if they hope to keep their bid to be Southern Conference 2010 Champions alive. Face-off is at 4:30pm. Entry to the game is free and all are welcome to come along and support their local team.
This is a guest post from Lucas Howell, club secretary of the Cardiff Ice Hounds