Match Report v Blackburn 3.11.13

Blackburn entered the game with a 0-2 record for the season, while Nottingham’s first two games had resulted in a win and a draw. With Nottingham also having won five of the six previous fixtures between the two teams, previous statistics suggested a relatively easy Nottingham win. In reality, the game was a tense affair which could have gone either way, with Nottingham finally overcoming Blackburn with two late goals, following a flurry of penalties in the last five minutes of the final period.

Period 1 began tentatively with Blackburn enjoying the first substantial attack of the game, forcing a save from Holly Steeples at 0.29. This was followed by two attacks from Nottingham, the first producing a shot from Paige Dance from the right, the second, from Rebecca Cooke following a pass by Robin Mullen. The teams continued to trade attacks through the period, with Blackburn hitting the pipe at 9.36 and Nottingham forcing a glove save from Sarah Bloor shortly afterwards. Great work by Robin Mullen then precipitated a melee around the Blackburn net, which resulted in a minor pushing scuffle. Nottingham enjoyed a period on power play when Blackburn’s Megan Bowen-Fell received 2 minutes for holding the stick at 9.51. However, the same player left the penalty box to score an unassisted even handed goal shortly afterwards at 12.03 to give Blackburn the lead. A tense first period came to a close with Blackburn leading 1-0 (period s.o.g. 9-11, pens 2-4).

The second period began in the same manner of the first with Blackburn making the first substantive attack requiring Holly Steeples to cover the puck. This was followed by a brilliant run from Robin Mullen which nearly brought the equalising goal. A subsequent shot by Rebecca Cooke which required a good save from the Blackburn net minder seemed to encourage the Vipers into a period of dominance after which the game returned to its previous pattern of the two teams trading shots which required both goal tenders to be alert and to respond quickly. Rebecca Cooke was unlucky with two shots, having been set up nicely on both occasions by Julia Coughill. The momentum of the game finally changed when Blackburn’s Megan Bowenfell took another penalty for holding the stick. With just over 5 minutes of the period remaining and Nottingham camped around the Blackburn goal, Paige Dance was able to thread the puck through the Blackburn defence from just inside the blue line to score a power play goal, having been fed the puck by Emma French. This was a deserved equaliser as Nottingham had been the better side during the period, though Blackburn were always threatening on the break. As the clock ticked down, Blackburn’s Rachel Linton just missed the Vipers’ goal following a fine run down the left. Berni Chillman then managed to pounce on a loose puck in centre ice only for the resulting shot to be saved by the Blackburn net minder. Following on, Julia Coughill and Robin Mullen were both unlucky with shots that just went by the post. The period closed with the scores tied at 1-1 (period s.o.g. 11-5, pens 2-2).

In this very tight game, the first substantive shot of the third period was an attempt by Michelle Peat which forced Sarah Bloor to parry the puck to prevent a goal. There was then a period when the two teams traded shots resulting in good stops by Holly Steeples and Sarah Bloor. Emma French was continuing to go close but Blackburn were able to turn defence into attack when clearing the puck.  It was becoming very clear, as the period progressed, that the game would end as a one goal game. Lucy Kendall nearly broke the deadlock with a great shot but a subsequent break-out nearly led to Blackburn’s Beckie Elliot getting one past Holly Steeples. The last 5 minutes of the game produced a series of incidents which ultimately defined the game’s result. It started when Blackburn’s Philippa Riddoch was given a 2 minute minor for holding (39.49) and Elizabeth Aspinall a 2 minute slashing minor (40.13) straight after Blackburn had enjoyed a power play opportunity following a hooking call on Julia Coughill (38.36). Although short-handed, Blackburn managed to break through the deadlock to score on 40.55 following a face-off. Blackburn’s Catherine Bowenfell then took a 10 minute misconduct major for abuse of the official. With Blackburn visibly losing their concentration and shape, Rebecca Cooke levelled the score on 42.55, assisted by Julia Coughill, following intense pressure. The goal prompted the Blackburn net minder to take exception to the officiating, only to land herself with her own 10 minute major (42.55). With Blackburn picking up a further 2 minute interference minor on 43.24 (Sarah Linton), the momentum had moved in Nottingham’s direction and further pressure saw Paige Dance get her second power play goal of the game on 44.08, assisted by a nice touch by Lucy Kendall. With little time to respond Blackburn had to settle with a 3-2 defeat (period s.o.g. 11-5, pens 2-26). For an excellent all round performance, Rebecca Meats received the MoM award.

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Match Report Vs Telford Raiders

Nottingham Vipers opened their 2013/14 league campaign entertaining Telford Wrekin Raiders at the National Ice Centre. This fixture marked the Vipers debuts for Canadian Robin Mullen and new starting netminder Holly Steeples. Telford’s roster remained largely unchanged from last season. 


After the puck drop, both teams started speculatively, perhaps showing signs of early season rustiness. Despite the slow start, both netminders were tested with Nottingham’s Holly Steeples coming up big for her team. At the 8:15 mark, Telford were handed a golden opportunity when Vipers number 8 Lucy Kendall landed a body check on an unsuspecting Telford player. However, it was Nottingham who capitalised when Robin Mullen stole the puck and netted on her debut to the give the Vipers a shorthanded 1-0 lead at 9.19. This was to prove the end of the action for the first period. 

The second period saw the Vipers up the intensity, and it paid off instantly with Rebecca Cooke burying the puck after only 17 seconds. Telford refused to give up, and continued to  push for their opening goal with only smart work from the Vipers defence, a goal post and some more stirling work from netminder Steeples denying them. It was to be Vipers who would land the killer blow at the end of the period, with two goals in two minutes. Robin Mullen popped up with her second of the night on the delayed penalty, with the assist going to alternate captain Michelle Peat at 27:57. Shortly afterwards, Telford could consider themselves the victims of some bad luck when a Kendra Hourd shot deflected off a Raiders player into their goal at 29:48.


The third period saw Nottingham content to sit on their lead, absorbing the Telford pressure as they pushed for a breakthrough, including an impressive five on three penalty kill when Lucy Ebinger and Micky Johnson took penalties for roughing and slashing respectively. Telford finally achieved this at 41:18, with Heather Metcalf firing past Nottingham’s Steeples, who was desperately unlucky not to get a shutout on her debut, saving 21 of 22 shots. Nottingham restored their four goal lead minutes later, with Laura Smith netting for her first of the season at 44:22, with assists going to Rebecca Cooke and Robin Mullen for her third point of the game. This was to conclude the action for this match, with Nottingham firmly in the knowledge that tougher tests are to come, starting with Kingston Diamonds on Sunday 6th October. Spirit of the game went to Lucy Ebinger for her hard work and consistency on the blue line.

Hull v Nottingham

Vipers started well and soaked up an early attack with Mickey stick checking and good work from the D. Paige had a breakaway but was dispossessed as the play swung from end to end. Nottingham had the first shot on goal with Cookie’s shot being covered by the Kingston keeper. Kingston quickly broke away but their effort was cleared by Michelle. Play continued back and forth with Debbie covering the puck twice and Wilko and Michelle working well together on the attack but being denied by the post. Paige came back to help in D, the puck up in the air forcing Debbie to catch high. With a Kingston 2 on 1 breakaway Mickey cleared the puck from in front of net. Debbie had a sprawling save during a bit of a kerfuffle in front with Katie clearing and Debbie scrambling another save. Kingston took the first penalty with Holly Cornford called for a bodycheck.

At the start of the second Nottingham took advantage of the extra skater with Katie converting. Nottingham were buoyed up by the go ahead and very quickly Paige scored a great goal, assisted Julia. Nottingham kept the pressure up with a long range effort from Cookie which was caught by the keeper. Play continued back and forth with Paige having a good effort and then Debbie being forced into action twice in quick succession. Almost half way through the period Kingston’s no.2 scored a well worked goal which went high over Debbie’s blocker. Kingston took a penalty for tripping Lucy, closely followed by Paige being called for slashing. 4 on 4. Nottingham pressured hard with Cookie being denied by the post. Then with Wilko in the bin for hooking Hull equalised following a mix up on the Nottingham goal line. Kingston 3, Nottingham 2 at the end of the second.

Nottingham started on the attack again but had to soak up a sustained period of pressure from Hull before Debbie had to pull out 2 good saves. Paige had a (high) shot then Julia had a shot. Hull then went on the attack firing high with the puck being covered. There was a lot of oohing and aahing from the Nottingham supporters as Nottingham could not get another as the puck went back and forth. Debbie was called into action again before Nottingham took control and equalised, scored Lucy, assisted Paige and Julia. Debbie caught the puck which was bobbling around keeping the Vipers hopes alive. Lucy took the puck full ice as Nottingham continued to press for a winning goal. Sadly this was not to be and with Paige in the box for interference, Hull scored a belter with 2 seconds left on the clock. Final score Hull 4, Nottingham 3.

Man of the Match : Debbie

Nottingham V Billingham

After tasting victory in Telford last outing, Nottingham were hungry for another result and it didn’t take long to take the lead, after 1.20 Michelle assisted Frenchie. The game started with intensity and so it continued when at 2.42 and then again at 4.12 Billingham found themselves with a player in the box. Unfortunately Nottingham were unable to capitalise on the power play and took the next penalty at 5.06, Katie called for hooking. Nottingham worked really hard and were rewarded with a second goal scored Katie, assisted Frenchie at 12.42. A good start going 2 : 0 up into the break.

The second period saw Billingham start hard trying to claw back the 2 goal deficit and they scored three times in quick succession at 17.52, 20.01 and 21.24. Nottingham had to dig deep to keep the scoreline tight and at 28.03 they were able to convert a power play opportunity with Cookie scoring, assisted Frenchie and Specky. Evens at the second break!

Both teams had all to play for in the last 15. Vipers were first off the mark with Michelle getting her 2nd at 32.14, assisted Kate and Frenchie getting her fourth assist of the game However just over a minute later Billingham evened up the score. There was still all to play for but with Lucy Ebinger Maxwell in the box called for holding, Billingham punished Vipers with a power play goal at 37.14. Final score: Nottingham 4, Billingham 5

Player of the game: Becky Cook

What a feisty display all round, a real complement to the progression of team when the opposition comment and ask whether we have new players!

Telford V Nottingham

After an eventful journey to Telford, Nottingham arrived at the partly refurbished rink with double points at stake. After a poor start giving up the first goal at 1.13 Nottingham had their work cut out when Kendra was sent to the penalty box for hooking two minutes in. Telford also took a penalty which gave a spell on 4 on 4 play; when Nottingham had the man advantage they created several good chances but at 6.44 Telford were given far too much time and ice and scored again with a clear skate down the ice by no. 12. Clare Jones took 2 minutes for hooking which gave Telford the man advantage and at 7.24 they scored their third when the puck was not cleared from in front of Debi’s net. With another minute on the clock Nottingham scored only for the goal to be disallowed. Katie then kept Vipers hopes alive getting one back at 8.40 and with Wilko in the box for tripping Telford tried to make it count but Debi kept them at bay forcing a good save. On her return from the box Wilko had a couple of good chances, one just wide, and the other saved by the keeper. Vipers did not give up and at 12.12 Julia scored a good goal, assisted by Cookie bringing the deficit to one. Kendra then scored only for this goal also to be disallowed – what?! Nottingham were getting into their stride and with Julia in the box for a bodycheck Katie got her second for Nottingham to even the score. Debi was kept busy with Lucy K clearing the puck to give Paige an opportunity which pinged the bar. With Paige also being given a bodychecking penalty Nottingham had a good spell shorthanded before the period ended 3 all.

With Paige still in the box the period started badly for Nottingham with only three skaters on the ice and Telford not taking long to add another. Then with 1.19 gone Kendra scored her first (allowed) Vipers goal followed a minute later by Julia to give Nottingham the lead for the first time. Katie completed her hat trick at 2.26 following an error by the Telford keeper – Vipers were 2 up! The play intensified with some end to end stuff, some long shifts and good shots by both teams. Both teams had a player sent to the box, Katie was taken down in front of net and with a 5 on 3 advantage Specky assisted Katie for the period to end 4 : 7 in Vipers favour.

With only 28 seconds gone in the third Telford pulled one back following a stick save and an unlucky puck sliding in. There was good play from Katie who worked hard all game long, Lucy K opening up the ice and Debi clearing the puck. Kendra had another good shot, Specky playing well. At 6 minutes in Lucy K was sent to the box which gave Telford a chance which they converted to bring the score to 6 : 7. Paige had another sit down in the sin bin, joined by Specky which led to a 5 on 3 penalty kill for 28 seconds, Katie scoring her fourth whilst Vipers were short-handed. Rebecca Meats then scored her first goal giving Vipers a three goal lead 6 : 9 – bring your supporters again Rebecca After a good game Cookie put away the final goal of the game for a final score of 6 : 10. NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL DOUBLE POINTS!

Nottingham V Sheffield

With only a week having passed since Nottingham visited Sheffield it was time for the rematch. Nottingham played some of the best hockey I had seen them play over the last few years, but after a short poor spell in the third, Sheffield were again the victors.

The first period saw only one goal for Sheffield with Nottingham containing the opposition and in the second Nottingham dominated with a goal from Captain Coughill. Both sides started to get penalties as neither team could break the deadlock, becoming frustrated and starting to pick up penalties.

In the third Sheffield ranked up the pressure and during a 10 minute spell where Nottingham lost confidence and concentration, Sheffield were rewarded with 6 goals coming at 33.15, 33.44 38.31, 39.06, 40.48 and 44.01. Nottingham were only able to muster one more at 42.07 and the game finished as the last with Sheffield the victors.

Vipers had every right to be proud of their effort and first two periods play. They doubled their own score and reduced the goals against them compared to the first encounter.

Spirit of the Game – Lucy (Ebinger) Maxwell

Nottingham Vs Coventry

The first period started with Coventry on the attack and Debbie having the first save of the game at 3 minutes in.  Despite Coventry pressuring, Nottingham managed to keep the game flowing end to end and Katie got Nottingham’s first shot at the other end.  At 6:02 Coventry were rewarded with an unassisted goal by number 21.  Nottingham kept working hard and were rewarded with a goal from Katie, assisted Julia at 10:01.  With Debbie unsighted, Coventry took the lead with just 17 seconds left in the period.

The second period started with Nottingham on the attack from the off.  Frenchie worked hard along the boards against her old team.  Play was end to end with Vipers keeping the pressure on Coventry.  Debbie was called into action covering the post, but the puck wasn’t cleared and against the run of play Coventry were lucky with the puck bouncing over Debbie’s pads at 23:27.  Nottingham went on the attack again with Julia winning the puck back at centre ice.  The pressure swung back and forth with Debbie stonewalling a one on one and then Wilko’s shot being stopped at the other end.  Laura Q and Cookie worked hard forcing two quick saves from the Coventry netminder, however Nottingham’s hard work paid off with Frenchie scoring at 28:56 assisted Julia and Lucy.  The period ended with Coventry 3 : 2 up.

Nottingham came out attacking at the beginning of the third; Kendra having a really good effort on goal only for possession to be lost and Coventry taking a quick long shot and scoring at 31:56.  Vipers didn’t give up and kept the Coventry netminder busy but without reward.  Kendra was working hard getting back to clear the puck and then straight away getting in on the action in front of net.  Coventry had a breakaway shot which was saved but at 34:46 Debbie could not contain the Phoenix and they opened up their lead to 5 : 2.  Two minutes later Nottingham were awarded a penalty shot which Katie bravely stepped up to take, but was denied by the Coventry keeper.  Debbie was then called into play with two good saves in quick succession.  Paige then went on a solo dispy doodle, got a shot away but again Coventry’s keeper was solid between the pipes.  With about 3.5 minutes left the game became more physical and earnest with Nottingham trying to lessen the deficit and Coventry pressing for another.  Nottingham iced the puck twice before Paige took a shot on the breakaway but being denied again by the keeper.  Nottingham kept going right to the end with Wilko, Kendra and Cookie in the thick of it in front of the Coventry goal.  The final buzzer came too soon with the game ending 5 : 2 to Coventry.

The end result did not reflect the standard of play by Nottingham in anyway.  The Vipers were hard working, committed but unlucky again.  The effort was there, but the killer instinct in front of goal needs to be honed.  As the season continues the team will get stronger and more confident – I’m sure the results will soon go our way.

Player of the Game: Emma French