RAF Bluewings v Cardiff Ice Hounds, 5th June 2011, Oxford Ice Rink
There was absolutely no doubt as to what the Cardiff Ice Hounds’ game plan was, travelling down to Oxford, for their fixture against the RAF Bluewings in the Southern Rec Hockey Conference. The Ice Hounds had been the subject to two cancelled fixtures (one in Oxford and one in Cardiff) by the RAF squad and as a result, settled into the cramped Away team changing rooms with one thing on their minds – a big win.
And with the Ice Hounds v RAF Bluewings fixture on the 21st May having been cancelled – resulting in a forfeit game being awarded in favour of the Ice Hounds – the pressure was on the Hounds to score big numbers, to keep closing in on top of table, Army Air Corps Ice Hawks. The Ice Hawks have played out all of their group stage matches and going into Sunday’s match, had a better goal difference (compared to the Hounds) by 27 goals. Having to win two games by at least a 28 goal margin was always going to be a big ask of the Hounds, even with their proven fire power and totally highlighted the reasoning behind the teams disappointment and anger at the 21st May forfeit, that meant the Hounds were only awarded a 5-0 ‘walkover’.
The first period against the Bluewings provided the Ice Hounds with many challenges. Obviously the first was the Bluewings, who were obviously out to cause an upset by taking down a title contender. Add to this, the apparent slow fingers of the game clock operator who ran down quite a few minutes of time, letting the clock run for several seconds after the referees whistle, within the first 10 minutes of the game. On top of these human factors, the Hounds had to cope with the recent investment in the Oxford rink, which meant that the pad looked like an out of the box air hockey table, with new (read big rebounds) boards and near perfect, hard & fast ice.
Playing with all these factors, the opening minutes of the first were frantic from both sides, with neither side breaching the oppositions defensive zone in a strong enough way to test the netminders. In fact it wasn’t until the sixth minute that the Ice Hounds managed to capitalise on a Power Play opportunity, off the back of Bluewing Peter Smith’s 2 minute minor for hooking. For the Hounds, it was an opportunity to get Steven Donovan out onto the ice, who hasn’t iced for the Hounds for some time, as a result of a three game suspension. It took Donovan just 6 seconds to capitalise on the Power Play, assisted by Gareth Shaw.
With the seal broken, Donovan went on to pick up a hat trick of goals, before the end of the first period, combining with two goals from Hounds’ Top Scorer Craig Camilleri and one from Andrew Davies, leaving the score at the end of the period with six goals to the Ice Hounds and no reply from the home team.
The second period was more subdued than the first, with both teams a little more settled than the first and again, it took a penalty from Bluewing Daniel Malins (Cross Checking) to give the Ice Hounds a Power Play opportunity. And it was Davies that picked up his second goal of the night – assisted by David Owen – 1 minute 27 into the Power Play. The period did see the Bluewings only goal of the game, when an error by Hounds veteran defenseman, Lucas Howell, lead to a two-on-one opportunity for the Bluewings, which they didn’t fail to capitalise on.
The Hounds were quick to respond and just 30 seconds later, Donovan picked up his fourth goal of the night.
With further goals from Hounds Gavin Burns and Mark Keogh, the Hounds entered the final period 10-1 up on the Bluewings. The final period saw further goals from Burns, Davies and yet another goal from Man of the Match, Donovan, but the goal of the night has to be awarded to 6ft 7inch winger Christopher ‘Big’ Chapman, who managed to clear up the trash in front of the Bluewings crease, scoring the Ice Hounds’ fourteenth goal of the night, with just 0.3 seconds left on the clock.
With a final score of 14-1, the Cardiff Ice Hounds still have it all to do, if they’re to close the gap on the Army Air Corps Ice Hawks and go into the Conference (West) play offs in pole position. To achieve this, the Ice Hounds will have to beat the Cardiff Eagles, this weekend, by a 15 goal margin. It’s a big ask of the Ice Hounds for any fixture, but more so against the Cardiff Eagles, who – if Saturday’s performance against the Swindon Rec Wildcats is anything to go by – have found form.
The Cardiff derby match takes place this coming Saturday (11th June) at the Cardiff Bay Ice Arena. It’s hoped that the Tiger Bay Brawlers Roller Derby girls will be coming down to watch the match and the Cardiff Ice Hounds also welcome anyone that’s ever fancied watching an ice hockey match, to come down and enjoy what should be a great battle. Face off is at 7pm and entry, as always is completely free of charge.
For more information on the Cardiff Ice Hounds: