2014 Planet Ice Sledge Hockey League Champions

Peterborough Phantoms: The 2015 Planet Ice League Champtions!

Peterborough Phantoms: The 2014 Planet Ice League Champions!

While the rest of the stats are being double-checked by our faithful statistician, we are pleased to announce that the Peterborough Phantoms are officially the 2014 Planet Ice Sledge Hockey League Champions!

After today’s decisive 7-3 win over Manchester Phoenix, the Phantoms held onto their lead at the top of the league table, with 5 wins and only 1 loss this season (ironically to Manchester Phoenix the last time the two of them met).

We’d also like to confirm that Gary Farmer doesn’t always pose for team photos without his shirt on – he’d  completed the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge moments earlier!

Despite this being the last game of the season, don’t forget you can see all four teams next weekend at the playoffs, where Cardiff Devils and Manchester Phoenix will be playing in the 3rd/4th place game, and Peterborough Phantoms will face off against Kingston Kestrels to see who takes home the 2014 Playoff Trophy!

It’s all still to fight for!

Photo Courtesy of Peterborough Phantoms

Photo Courtesy of Peterborough Phantoms

Saturday sees the final game in the 2014 Planet Ice Sledge Hockey League, when Peterborough Phantoms play host to Manchester Phoenix.

While the Phantoms may already be celebrating their position at the top of the league, it doesn’t mean that they won’t still go in fighting.  Like every game this season, both teams are ready to give it their all.

A quick look at the current league table shows us that there’s still plenty up for grabs:

  • Right now, Matt Clarkson of the Kingston Kestrels is sitting at the top of the points table, but with several players from both Peterborough and Manchester close behind him, can he hold on to his lead?
  • Netminders Rob Gaze and Bryan Hackworth are almost neck and neck in their save percentage – which means that Rob’s performance on Saturday could mean Bryan finishes top, even if the Phantoms win.
  • And can anyone else misbehave enough to gain more penalty minutes than Gary Farmer?!

With this being the final game, it also means that the result finalises the standings of the four teams, and will determine who plays who in the playoffs on the 30th August!

Guaranteed to be an action-packed afternoon and evening, the 3rd/4th place game starts at 16:30pm at Planet Ice Coventry, with the all-important Final taking place afterwards.  And unlike league games, there can be no tie!  So if 45 minutes isn’t enough to find a winner, we carry on going through to overtime and, eventually, penalty shoot outs!

And the best part is, there is no entry cost at all!

So mark it in your diaries now, and come along to watch the biggest event in the 2014 Planet Ice League!

Match Review: 09-August: Phoenix vs Kestrels

Steven Midghall receiving his Planet Ice MVP award from Neil Morris

Steven Midghall receiving his Planet Ice MVP award from Neil Morris

Saturday 9th August saw the final Planet Ice League home game of the season for the Manchester Phoenix as they took on the Kingston Kestrels. With a large crowd in attendance, including Phoenix EPL players James Neil & Joe Graham, as well as Phoenix owner Neil Morris, and an unbeaten home record, there was a sense of excitement in the air!

The game took a weird twist, as due to traffic and unforeseen circumstances, the Kestrels couldn’t ice a full line, meaning the game was forfeit, automatically giving Phoenix the win. However, with both teams wanting to put a game on, Phoenix loaned Karl Nicholson and Steve Bradley to the Kestrels to give them a full line – game on!

The first period started with a few early hits, including Anthony Booth on Karl Nicholson, proving that if you aren’t wearing the Phoenix shirt, you aren’t getting an easy time, no matter who you are! Just over 2:30 in and Booth got a breakaway.  Although his shot was saved, he still managed to put in the rebound! Kestrels came storming back though and almost a minute later Matt Clarkson came in alone against Steve Midghall in the Phoenix net.  He managed to take it round him, slid it across the crease but Midghall covered. Some great defensive work by both teams kept chances to premium until nearly 8 minutes on the clock when Booth almost caught Kingston out with a long shot, but it’s pushed aside at the last second. The next 2 minutes saw Kestrels register 3 goals, with Matt Clarkson rifling a shot from the top of the circle into the top corner.

Straight from the face off, Karl Nicholson collected the puck, weaved through traffic and rifled a shot past Midghall. Phoenix applied pressure but a quick Kestrels break just 45 seconds after their second goal gave Clarkson a break and he beat Midghall far side. Both teams traded chances, with a huge glove save through traffic by Midghall at the 12 minute mark, which led to a great break by Phoenix and Rob Allen leaving a delicate drop pass to Booth who shot it agonisingly wide. The period ended 3-1 Kestrels.

The second period saw Ian Warner join the Kestrels after being held up in traffic, so Phoenix got Karl Nicholson back. The period started with both teams battling, but it was Kestrels who got the breakthrough just over 2:30 in, with Matt Clarkson getting his hat trick by shooting quickly just over Midghall’s pads. Phoenix picked up their play, refusing to get down, with the crowd roaring on every attack. The next few minutes showed some great passing plays by both teams, but just under 7 minutes in and a wrap around attempt by Booth was smothered by Bryan Hackworth in the Kestrels goal. However just 20 seconds later Rob Allen took a long shot, and although saved, the rebound was roofed by Karl Nicholson, making the score 4-2! Just 30 seconds later it was 4-3, as a great backhand pass by Rob Allen after a great battle for the puck left Nicholson with a open net to slot the puck in! The Kestrels hit back with a lot of pressure, Midghall in net and Graham Wilson & Mike Stevenson in defence hold strong, but with just under 10 minutes on the clock, Ian Warner caught the defence on a breakaway and slipped past Wilson, putting the puck past Midghall. Chances were traded as the period drew to a close, but Nicholson got a breakaway with 40 seconds left.  Hackworth held firm and blocked the shot to take his team in to the break 5-3 up!

With both teams still looking to take the win, they started at a fast, physical pace, but it was the home side who make the first breakthrough of the period.  Booth picked up the puck in the Phoenix zone, banked a pass off the boards to Nicholson, who collected it and broke in to the Kestrels zone, blasting the puck past the keeper! With just a goal in it, the game picked up in both physicality and intensity, and both teams cancelled each other out for the next several minutes.  Steve Bradley, guesting for the Kestrels, blocked several Phoenix shots, however Nicholson forced his way into the zone just over 8 minutes in, went behind the net and passed back hand to Booth who roofed the puck to tie the game 5-5! Minutes later and Midghall made a spectacular glove save from a long range shot by Clarkson, bringing applause from fans and players alike! With the seconds ticking down the suspense in the atmosphere became tangible, as both sides had chances and both netminders shut the door, but with just over a minute left Ian Warner got a chance and made no mistakes, slotting the puck in the net from the left circle. The Phoenix threw everything at the Kestrels for the last minute, but just couldn’t get the break as the final buzzer sounded! A great performance by both sides, with the crowd treated to another entertaining game, and some valuable experience gained for many new players!

Steve Midghall was awarded MVP of the game, receiving his award from Neil Morris. With one game left, the Phoenix can still finish second by claiming at least a point in their last game in Peterborough, showing how far the league has come this year, that the last game still holds so much for several teams!

The Manchester Phoenix Sledge Hockey Team with Manchester Phoenix's Neil Morris

The Manchester Phoenix Sledge Hockey Team with Manchester Phoenix’s Neil Morris

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @MP_Sledgehockey and look for us on Facebook, to keep up to date with everything that’s going on with the team. Also check out the Phoenix Podcast who again featured our game Lastly a huge thanks to all the volunteers for helping us put the games on, our sponsors for helping put together programmes etc, the podcast for featuring us and making us feel like the pro’s and the fans who really have inspired the team this year! We had hoped to get some good crowds down, but never as big as we actually did! You are a credit to the club and the organisation!

Match Review: 02-August: Devils vs Phantoms

Planet Ice MVP, Callum Shakespeare [Photo by Wendy Wigger]

Planet Ice MVP, Callum Shakespeare [Photo by Wendy Wigger]

The Final home game of the BSHA Planet Ice National Sledge Hockey League 2014 for the Cardiff Devils saw them welcome the Peterborough Phantoms to the Blue Tent on Saturday 2nd August 2014.

Both the Devils and the Phantoms arrived at the game with high expectations. The Devils after a win followed by a close fought defeat against Manchester Phoenix whilst the Phantoms were fresh from their latest victory against their closest rivals in the league Kingston Kestrels.

Once again after two much improved performances against the Phoenix the Devils conceded the early goal through Gary Farmer when he was given far too much space through the Cardiff defensive zone. The Devils quickly settled but the relentless pressure from the Phantoms GB trio of Farmer, Coleman and Christopher saw a further four goals being scored before the end of the first period for a 5:0 lead.

The second period again saw an early goal conceded by the Devils – the first of two consecutive goals from Matt Coleman – to be followed by goals from Darryl Quelch, his first of the season, and John Le Galloudec. The second period also saw tempers fraying with five penalties conceded, three from the Devils through James and Weaver and two from the Phantoms Coleman and Farmer. The period ended with the Phantoms leading 9:0, surpassing the 8 goals they had scored against the Devils at home earlier in the season.

By now the game was effectively over as a contest and when the Devils conceded another early goal at the beginning of the third period, the Phantoms had reached double figures. It was therefore extremely disappointing to see the Phantoms conceding a further two penalties for foul play one for slashing and one for interference. The Phantoms went on to score a further three quick goals during the closing minutes of the third period to give them an emphatic 13:0 victory.

At the end of the game the Planet Ice Most Valuable Player was awarded to the Phantoms Number 40 Callum Shakespeare.

The Devils now travel to the Kestrels temporary home of Sheffield for a 18:45 Face-Off on 16th August 2014 for the final round of the season whilst the Phantoms will welcome the Manchester Phoenix for their final game on 23rd August knowing that even if the Kestrels win their two remaining games a draw will see them winning the regular season.

Captains Q&A: Matt Clarkson

Kingston Kestrels Captain Matt Clarkson

Kingston Kestrels Captain Matt Clarkson

This week’s Captains Q&A is with Matt Clarkson from the Kingston Kestrels.

Another one of our international players, Matt is one of the Alternate Captains for the GB team, and is looking forward to qualifying for his first Paralympics tournament.

Q. What position do you play?
A. Defence

Q. What originally got you into sledge hockey?
A. I was approached by [BSHA Chairman and GB player] Matt Lloyd whilst training in the gym in 2006. At the time I was looking at getting into Powerlifting. This was fortunately the second time that I had been approached to play Sledge Hockey; I had originally been invited to try the sport as a youngster but it was unheard of and my only interest at that age was football. Anyway I attended the next training session in Hull after meeting Matt and have never been away, the sport gripped me instantly. People are put off by training times but if you have a passion for the sport you make the effort and adapt to the times.

Q. What’s your favourite thing about the sport?
A. It’s all round brilliant! A fast and physical, team sport where pretty much anything goes. What more would you want? The feeling of scoring for your team or being involved in a big hit just creates such a buzz.

Q. What’s been the highlight of your sledge hockey career so far?
A. Undoubtedly winning Bronze in the 2013 Pool B World Championship in Nagano, Japan which saw Great Britain go on to the 2014 Winter Paralympic Qualification Playoff in Turin, Italy. Other highlights include, scoring on my international debut, becoming GB Assistant Captain and various domestic achievements such as winning the British Sledge Hockey League with my local club Kingston Kestrels.

Q. What other sports do you play?
A. I’m not involved in any other sport at a competitive level and as mentioned I was looking at getting into Powerlifting but decided to pursue Sledge Hockey.

Q. Do you follow any other forms of hockey, and if so, who do you support?
A. In recent years I have taken more interest in Ice Hockey and do watch NHL, EIHL and EPL mostly on TV however I occasionally attend Hull Stingrays home games when the opportunity arises. With football getting the limelight in England I’ve grown up being a football fan in all honesty.


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