Clinical Stars Outclass Chieftains
Last season, the Chelmsford Chieftains were a force to be reckoned with in NIHL South Division 1, winning the title for their second subsequent year. Dropping down to Division 2 this season it seemed likely that they would dominate the lower league, but they had lost 4 of their games already, including a 4-0 shutout by the Oxford City Stars last time they met. Keen to avenge this defeat, they were hopeful of the win but were never to recover from a dismal first period.
The Stars had the measure of the Chieftains in the first period, coming out firing on all cylinders as first Kamil Kinkor and then Jake Florey took shots on Sonny Phillips in the opposing net. Just over 2 minutes in Joe Edwards was penalised for elbowing, and the Chieftains saw the chance to take an early lead, but nothing came of their power play. Michal Oravec took the puck but it was intercepted by Kinkor, and James Ayling also had a go. The Stars had the momentum, and further scoring chances came from Martyn Gray and Kinkor, the latter resulting in the net coming off its moorings and Kinkor sliding into the net himself. The first penalty for the Chieftains came 5 minutes in, with Daniel Wright out for tripping, and the Stars took full advantage of the power play, with Joshua Florey scoring the first goal for the home side, assisted by Kinkor. It was a scrappy goal but it started a flurry of goals for the Stars, the second coming 3 ½ minutes later when Kinkor hit a shot from halfway to the blue line, with assists from Theo Bundock and Alexander Staples. Joshua Oliver was the next to try, and Phillips dived on the puck to save it. Shortly after came a second penalty for the Chieftains, with Gary Brown thrown in the sin bin for hooking. The Stars made it two power play goals out of two, Alexander Hopkins with the honours this time, assists coming from Oliver and Joe Edwards. And it was less than 30 seconds later that the fourth goal was added, Oliver scoring from Stewart Tait and Conor Redmond. Having given up 4 goals in 7 minutes the Chieftains called a timeout, and came back with an immediate shot on goal, but the Stars were once again in control and chances from Josh Florey and Kinkor were followed by a goal from Bundock, picking up a pass from Jake Florey almost at the blue line, with a further assist from Kinkor. Oravec had another go for the visitors but his shot sailed wide of Milan Ronai in the Stars’ net. Penalties were given to both sides when a fight broke out between Gray and Grant Bartlett for the Chieftains, with cross-checking and roughing penalties, respectively. With less than 2 minutes left in the game the Stars added to the Chieftains’ pain, with Kinkor sneaking a shot past Phillips, assisted by Hopkins; the shot looked like it had been saved initially. As the period ended the Chieftains desperately tried to gain some respect and claw one back, but as the whistle blew the score was 6-0 to the Stars.
The second period began with the Stars in control once again, Kinkor and Matthew Lawday both taking shots. Grant Bartlett managed to get the puck on a breakaway to the Stars’ net, but he missed the goal, much to the delight of the home fans. A few minutes into the period the Chieftains finally managed to score, with a shot from Ayling bouncing into the net and out again, with an assist from Oravec. Shortly after Tait was given a high sticks penalty, and Robert Veares sat out for slashing for the opponents. Chances followed by both teams but the penalties expired with no change to the score. In the next few minutes, Oliver had a shot for the Stars, and a further Stars shot hit the net post. It was the Chieftains who scored next, Grant Bartlett finally getting his goal, with an assist from Brown. Kinkor and Josh Florey looked to increase the home side’s goal tally; a penalty on the Chieftains, a second subsequent slashing penalty on Veares, gave them a chance, but they could not score on this penalty. However a minute later, Anthony Leone was taken out for boarding, and the power play unit was successful once more, with Michael Whillock scoring this one from Hopkins and Jake Florey. Tait had a chance after this but it was Josh Florey who scored next, with assists from Lawday and Staples; Phillips stretched out in the net to try and save it, but was not successful. As the period wound down both sides had further tries, Oravec with the best chance for the Chieftains, but the period ended 8-2, both sides scoring equally in the period.
The second period had been a better effort by the Chieftains and they looked to build on this in the third, with Leone scoring a goal in the first 2 minutes of the period, assisted by Oravec and Grant Bartlett. Edwards’s shot for the Stars hit the net post. With Brown out for elbowing 4 minutes in, a Hopkins scoring chance was missed but the the home side continued to be effective on the power play, with Whillock’s shot missing but then passed to Josh Florey round the back of the net, this shot finding the back of the net, assisted by Kinkor and Whillock, with Josh Florey scoring a hat-trick goal. Less than a minute later a Stars shot was saved only to bounce back and for Whillock to connect with the rebound, Kinkor assisting him. Hopkins had another chance and the Chieftains then took the puck and had chances of their own, but it was the Stars once again, with their third unanswered goal, a hat-trick goal for Whillock, assisted this time by Hopkins and Andrew Cox. Ayling took the puck up to the Stars’ net but his shot was not successful and was followed by an Edwards pass to Lawday for a shot on Phillips, this one also missing. A penalty on Brown for cross-checking gave the Stars another power play, but this one expired with no more goals. A missed shot by Jake Florey was followed by Veares’ third slashing penalty, and the Stars immediately called a timeout, an interesting move since they were leading the game by so many goals at this point. With a 5 on 3 power play for the Stars Hopkins had a chance to score, but Grant Bartlett stunned the home fans by taking the puck unopposed to the Stars’ net and slipping it past Ronai for a short-handed goal for the visitors, with assists from Cameron Bartlett and Oravec. In the last few minutes of the game both sides had chances to add to their respective goal tallies, including shots from Tait and Kinkor on the Stars’ side and Ross Brears and Oravec for the Chieftains, but no further goals were scored. Instead with less than 90 seconds left to play both sides incurred penalties, Will Polston for the visitors and Tait for the home side, both for roughing. 30 seconds later Tait was also given a 10 minute misconduct penalty, to the bewilderment of the home fans, but with less than a minute left in the game it was immaterial anyway. As the game came to a close the Stars had the momentum and Oliver, Whillock, Cox and Josh Florey both had chances, but the final whistle blew with no further goals, in what had been a dominant display by the league leaders.
Final score Stars 11 Chieftains 4.