Devils East West blueliner Chris “The Fury” Fonte bemoaned unsavoury tactics from the Devils South as his team went down 5-4 in his final competitive game for the club.
“It was a rough game with some cheap play” seethed the American post-game, while sinking an ice cold brew from a nearby wheelbarrow. “I was glad to get a goal though. I knew I was faster than those guys and I proved it.”
With neither team mustering more than two lines, the game started at a surprisingly quick pace under the watchful eye of referee Pavel Olczak.
The South were the first to score as Patrice Kerner laid the puck off to Dave Carr who split the East West defence for a breakaway, before slotting the puck under Beast.
It was 2-0 shortly afterwards as Gordon Malcolm floated in a wrister from the top of the circles through traffic, after good work on the blueline by makeshift defenseman Fabian Goehring.
East West were rattled and raised voices pierced the calm of the Valley on their bench. Whatever was said clearly worked, as South goalie James Tipple was forced into a number of big saves. The stopper was in fine form turning away efforts from Bob Chebator and Emil von Bulow.
The pressure was to be too much however, as Eugene Gorelik released Chris Huston down the left wing and he jinked past two players before slotting into the far corner of the net with sweet finish.
Five minutes later the South stunned the crowd (George Alley on his own) by scoring again. This time it was Todd Donnelly in his office in front of net, firing home a superb reverse pass from Kerner behind the goal.
At 3-1 up the South were buzzing, but they could do nothing about what happened next. Late arrival (tut tut) Jon Foster and Gary Reid combined to release Rowan Phendler down the right wing, before he unleashed a cannon of a slapshot into the near top corner of Tipple’s net.
The period would end with East West on the powerplay after Pavel claimed to have spotted seven players on the ice. It was actually six, but that defence doesn’t really work.
With Alley deciding there was probably better things to do, the game restarted in front of an empty house. Perhaps the North stopper had followed in the footsteps of East West blueliner Matt Greaves, who splurged £65 at the weekend on a Christmas tree from the operation outside the rink. Yep… £65 for a tree without a base!
Anyway, the Nottingham born high roller was busy doing his business on the ice, and combined with von Bulow, whose shot was saved by Tipple before rebounding out to Chebator to fire into the net from the slot.
At 3-3 things were getting tense, and a little chippy. Von Bulow wiped out a South forward on the boards to earn some time in the box and then Greaves sat for sending Kerner flying towards the moon (or at least Leyton High Street) with a tasty trip.
The powerplay time was enjoyed again by the South, who took a 4-3 lead after Terry Wong circled from behind the back of the net and jammed home the puck past Beast at the second time of asking.
East West handed the South a powerplay early on to start on the back foot. Man of the moment Fonte took exception to something earlier in front of net and laid Gordo out in the circle with a hefty hit that could have been included in the next Rock Em Sock Em hockey video. With Don Cherry out of action and the Lee Valley CCTV focused outside on doggers and potential Christmas tree thieves it will instead just have to live in the memory of those that saw it.
South made the subsequent powerplay count, as a point shot from Carr was controlled superbly by Misha Neizvestnov on his ankle in front of net, much like Roman Pavlyuchenko in his pomp. A quick pass out to Gennadi Yufit from Misha pulled Beast out of position and the South had the lead with 15 minutes to go.
The two goal cushion wasn’t to last long. Fonte was still fired up from verbals with the South bench, so when he picked up the puck in the neutral zone with speed, the stage was set for the old magic to happen.
Sure enough he beat the first man, skated round the second, then snuck round the third before burying the puck past Tipple. It was a majestic goal but two facts remained. 1) He was still on the losing team and 2) time was running out to do anything about it,
It was at this point that the South shut up shop and killed the game.
Indeed the remainder of the period saw more icing than a Costco industrial cake making centre, with the South going glass and out, time after time.
With over a minute remaining East West pulled Beast for the extra skater but Tipple and his team clung on for a memorable 5-4 victory.
“I think I iced the puck 25 times which is pretty solid” admitted a jubilant Fabian Goehring, who played as one of only three defenseman on the South team and had a superb game.
“It’s the first time I’ve played there in 25 years and hopefully the last.”
The final word of the night however was left to Fonte, who left the ice to three cheers from both teams.
“It’s been five good years” said Fonte. “It was nice of the guys to do that at the end and I’m sure I’ll see everyone again at some stage. Maybe on a European tour, maybe on the Reeperbahn, either will do.”
South now move up to second place in the Bodean’s Cup standings, with North still unbeaten and East West without a win.
Devils South: Scoring
David Carr (P.Kerner)
Gordon Malcolm (F.Goehring, D.Carr)
Todd Donnelly (P.Kerner)
Terry Wong (D.Carr, G.Yufit)
Gennadi Yufit (M. Neizvestnov,D.Carr)
Devils South: Penalties
Patrice Kerner – slashing
Bench – Too many men
Devils East-West: Scoring
Chris Huston (B. Chebator, E.Gorelik)
Rowan Phendler (J.Foster, G.Reid)
Bob Chebator (E. von Bulow, M.Greaves)
Chris Fonte (M.Greaves)
Devils East West: Penalties
Emil von Bulow – interference
Matt Greaves – tripping
Chris Fonte – cross checking
Devils North goalie George Alley heralded his team’s work ethic as they saw off the challenge from a new-look Devils East-West (EW) in the Bodean's Cup at Lee Valley.
The North made it two from two thanks to a 5-2 win in a game where Alley claimed his team mates “forechecked like animals” and made his life “really easy.” Former farmer Alley didn’t divulge what kind of animals he was thinking of, which is probably for the best.
The game almost didn’t happen at all, after Devils EW keeper The Beast was laid out on the ice in the warm up like a tasered bison. The culprit? Who else but teammate Chris “The Fury” Fonte who had kindly drilled one of his signature boomers at his keeper’s upper chest area from the slot during the horseshoe drill.
Thankfully, there was no need for hospital treatment, or even an ice pack as the Beast rose against the odds, like a touring Devils side always does for an early morning Sunday game on the continent.
Under the watchful eye of emergency referee Dave Carr, the two teams began the period at a blistering pace. The high tempo of the North contrasting with the more measured style of EW.
Indeed EW’s new signings Theo Abban and Anthony Vadala were the first to carve out chances for their side, linking up well with the smooth skating Rowan Phendler.
Vadala had arguably the best chance of the first period as the puck came out to him in the slot with Alley stranded, only for his shot to be blocked by the brave Stuart Wroe, whose shot block was more suited to the playoffs than the second game of the regular season.
Down at the other end James Mulligan had the North’s best chance with a breakaway just before the buzzer, only for Beast to channel his inner Zaanse Schans in spectacular fashion with a glove save.
After an opening twenty of few chances for EW, they turned on the style at the beginning of the second period. Alley was called into action in the first minute as Vadala got behind the North defence and laid back a superb pass to Eugene Gorelik in the slot. The soft pawed Belorussian had time and space to pick his spot but was gloved spectacularly by Alley to the relief of the North bench.
Despite the early dominance by EW, it was the North who opened the scoring thanks to a well worked goal. Mulligan started and ended the move, picking up the puck in his own end before setting Mike Lay free like N-Trance in the neutral zone. Lay’s quick backhand pass picked out Richie Clark steaming down the left wing. Clark then jinked a perfect pass across to the onrushing Mulligan who rounded Beast to make it 1-0. It was almost as good as the three man weave that Lay has frequently dreamt about and campaigned for the Devils to practice over the years.
EW needed a response and it came shortly afterwards. The effervescent Gary Reid laid the puck off to Bob Chebator on the boards and his cross ice pass found Abban with time and space down the right wing. The new signing took a few strides, dropped his shoulder to unsettle Alley before drilling his snap shot into the back of the net to equalise.
Celebrations were short lived as the North took a 2-1 lead almost immediately after Clark again wreaked havoc down low before picking out Mad Dog Malacarne with a lovely saucer pass at the far post to do what he does best.
No, not causing madness… scoring goals.
It was 3-1 to North soon after as the EW defence went AWOL leaving newcomer Neil Goodman all alone in front of the net to score after being picked out by Mad Dog with a pass from the boards.
The scoreline was perhaps a little harsh on EW given their early dominance in the period, but they did manage to pull a goal back before the buzzer to set up an exciting final twenty at 2-3.
Blue liner Christian McCracken was the architect as he picked up a Phendler pass and wheeled around the top of the zone before unleashing a slapshot that Alley blocked with his left leg pad, before the busy Vadala smashed the rebound in from the hash marks.
With no penalties called all night, both sets of teams were left wondering who would be first to get a powerplay but nothing came.
In a tense period, the North finally extended their lead 6 minutes from the end as Wroe again put his body on the line to keep the puck in as EW blew the zone. He picked out Phil Holbrook all alone in front of net to make it 4-2.
EW pulled Beast for the extra skater but disaster struck as Jon Alcock snuffed out an attack down the left wing before rolling the puck down the ice from his own zone into the net to seal a 5-2 win.
“I like to think I’m the expert in determining whether a game was lopsided or even” said humble EW playmaker Gorelik, who was also pleased to have “clicked” with his line mates.
“I’m going on record to say the game was for EW to lose, but for the excellent goaltending of George and the referee missing a goal when the puck bounced off the back of the [expletive] net and into George’s glove. Nobody else saw it except myself and my maker.”
Eugene's maker was left shaking his head at his protege from above.
The one spectator in attendance may also have seen it but she’d left before the end so no further quote was obtained.
EW now take on South in the next Bodean's Cup game at Lee Valley on 2nd December with both teams looking for their first win. Good seats are still available.
Devis North: Scoring
James Mulligan (R. Clark, M. Lay)
Guiseppe Malacarne (R. Clark)
Neil Goodman (G. Malacarne)
Phil Holbrook (S. Wroe)
Jon Alcock EN (unassisted)
Devils East-West: Scoring
Theo Abban (B. Chebator, G. Reid)
Anthony Vadala (C. McCracken, R. Phendler)
After a summer of departures, arrivals, and returns, the Bodean's Cup kicked off with a rematch of last season's final between Devils North and Devils South.
With the season already slightly late getting underway, another setback conspired to delay it further when the scheduled referee cancelled at the last minute. Thankfully, East-West captain Bob Chebator stepped forward to don the stripes. However, there were no stripes on offer and a slim-fit black lycra number would have to do.
It was the North who would start strongest as South’s new goalie James Tipple picked up where he left off in his previous game against the Statesmen with a couple of big early saves.
The former Chelmsford Chieftain stopper was unable to do anything about the opening goal however as James Mulligan latched on to a stray pass inside the blue line and saw his shot rebound perfectly off the glass to the waiting Lukasz Gryzbon in front of goal to poke home.
South Captain Paul House almost hit back straight away as he appeared to have North goalie George Alley beaten, but could only watch as his shot hit the post and was eventually gathered by the sprawling netminder.
A powerplay for the South continued the momentum as Corey Johnson was sent to the box for interference. It certainly wasn’t a textbook PP effort that followed, however - unless of course the copy is named “How to run an ineffective and joyless powerplay in East London”
The final clear cut chance of the first period fell to Mulligan, who latched on to a long pass from his own end to skate through alone on Tipple before firing high and wide.
At the beginning of the second period, Nate Bowman boarded Phil Holbrook to hand the North a powerplay. From the draw, Harry Grant pulled the puck back nicely to Dan Maze whose slapshot struck a South stick mid-air and flew past an unlucky Tipple for 2-0.
The South needed a reaction and it soon came. A dump by the North was played out by Tipple to Dave Carr who teed up Patrice Kerner for a skate through the neutral zone and a lay off to Gennadi Yufit.
The South winger skated hard down the right wing then cut in before using the defenseman as a partial screen and finding a gap at the near post past Alley.
With the teams only separated by one goal, the third period started with a little more zest.
Extensive pressure by the North saw the South begin to tire and Tipple was being forced into making more and more saves. The tide was eventually too much as a loose puck from a Mulligan shot popped out to Big Kev Leizer. With the goal at his mercy and he converted to restore the two goal cushion.
The game would be put to bed soon thereafter, when Mad Dog Malacarne and Holbrook buzzed around down low before feeding the puck to Harry Grant alone in the slot to score a one-timer.
Any thoughts that the South had of getting back into it were dashed a few minutes later as Patrice Kerner hit the post from close range. The game ended with a 4-1 win to the North, and Chebator likely wishing he put plasters on to avoid the dreaded nipple rub from his lycra top.
“We always knew that starting the season with a rematch of last year's final was gonna be tough” admitted North Captain Frank Walshe.
“We wanted to start strong and impose our game plan. Things weren’t perfect but we will hope to get better with each game.”
From a South perspective, blueliner Brooks was refreshingly honest in his assessment of the game.
“Our goalie kept us in the game to be honest” admitted the moustachioed Millwall fan.
“We didn’t have any jump and we didn’t get the pucks in deep so it wasn’t a performance we are satisfied with.”
The next game in the Bodean's Cup will take place next week as the North look to make it back to back wins in their game against a much-changed Devils East-West side.
Devis North: Scoring
Lukas Gryzbon (J. Mulligan)
Dan Maze (H. Grant)
Kevin Leizer (J. Mulligan)
Harry Grant (G. Malacarne, P. Holbrook)
Devils South: Penalties
C. Johnson – Interference
C. Johnson – Holding
K. Leizer – Boarding
Devis South: Scoring
Yufit (P.Kerner, D.Carr)
Devils South: Penalties
N. Bowman – Holding