NEXT MATCHES at The Cardiff City House of Sport

MATCH REPORTS WEEK 8 - 3rd March 2019

by Mike Vigar

Another day of edge of your seat inline hockey is over and done with at Cardiff City House of Sport, with the Bipha South Wales title race shaping up to be the most closely fought affair we've seen in a long time!

The early face off saw old adversaries Llanishen and Proline Panthers go head to head.
Llanishen won the corresponding fixture 4-2 earlier in the season and both teams had been training hard in the run up to this one.
Llanishen flew out of the blocks, peppering the Panthers goal and taking an early lead. Their pressure continued but they couldn't find a second, and Panthers managed to pull the game to a level footing with a 2 on 1 breakaway. 1-1 at half time, this one was heating up with passion showing on both sides, and Llanishen came out for the second half with more composure and control, taking a 2-1 lead and making the most of tired Panther legs.
The game halted with just over 13 minutes to go as Hawks lost Mike Gross to a potentially serious injury following a hit into the boards. After a lengthy delay he was safely able to leave the rink, but Hawks couldn't regain the momentum they'd showed earlier in the period and Panthers quickly found themselves on level pegging with a shot from point.
With the minutes ticking away, Panthers were gaining the upper hand and after a scramble in front of the net, managed to find what would ultimately be the winning goal. They worked hard for it and were elated at the final buzzer in what was a hard fought close game.
Mike is doing fine, and awaiting the onset of 'the mother of all whiplashes'.

In game 2 of the day Paignton faced off against Llantwit. Llantwit were short of a few squad members but it was a tense and close opening few minutes, with both sides missing gilt edged chances and some excellent goaltending on display.
Paignton managed to find the breakthrough with two quick goals in succession, and from there they didn't look back. Llantwit are a test for anybody on their day, but without their full bench, Paignton were able to tire them out and finished the game 8-2 winners.

The blockbuster game of the day was up next, with Honey Badgers and Gowerton facing off for the second time this season. Gowerton edged the first encounter but Badgers have improved each game and set themselves up as serious title contenders. It was an edgy start to the game, with Badgers dominating the puck and creating lots of half chances and gaining the upper hand.
It was a fantastic watch for the neutral with two excellent sides cancelling each other out, and with lots of composed play, speed and skill on show it demonstrated why these two teams are serious bets for the title win.
With the game finely balanced, both teams had opportunities to take the lead on the powerplay with some tight refereeing on show, but it was Gamblers who made the initial breakthrough on the Penalty Kill with a superb solo effort short-handed goal by Cam Buckley.
The Badgers' fans were in uproar feeling there was missed call as Cam burst through the Badgers defence, but it really was just an excellent bit of tenacious play to give Gamblers the upper hand. The game didn't loosen up following the goal though, and although Gamblers began to dominate possession both sides demonstrated their defensive prowess as chances were few and far between.
Tempers flared at times as the referees rightly dished out misconduct penalties, and with the minutes ticking down, Gamblers found themselves with a great shooting chance on the breakaway, which Kenny saved brilliantly but he could do nothing about the rebound which was swatted out of the air to give Gamblers a 2-0 lead.
The passion was clear to see as Badgers wanted a high stick call, but the refs stuck to their guns and the goal was awarded.
The game finished 2-0 and was a brilliant spectacle for the crowd with some of the best hockey we've seen in Wales for a long time. Gamblers will feel they've got one hand on the title after this important win, but I'm sure Black Magic will have something to say about that...

There was every chance that after the top of the table blockbuster, the next game would feel like a bit of a poor follow on, but Llanishen and Mighty Pucks had other ideas.
Without the heart and soul of their team Llanishen have looked a bit off colour and with only 6 guys with their earlier injury loss, the full strength Mighty Pucks bench looked daunting. Llanishen immediately looked leggy, and Mighty Pucks flew out of the blocks and scored two early goals, carrying all the momentum. Hawks managed to stem their flow but were struggling to find composure against a rampant opposition.
They did eventually get their breakthrough however and clawed a goal back, before equalising as half time approached, but they didn't look comfortable even on level pegging.
It was more of the same in the second half, with Hawks desperate to slow the game down without much luck. They did manage to claw themselves in front though and looked set to extend their lead with a 4 on 3 and then 4 on 2 powerplay, but Mighty Pucks had different ideas with an excellent solo penalty kill goal to tie the game up.
Buoyed by their leveller, they mounted up the pressure on a tired Llanishen but with minutes to go, Hawks' talismanic captain was played in with a one-two and managed to power through to the net and score the winning goal high glove side on the Mighty Pucks keeper - who had played an outstanding game and was well worthy of MoM. Hawks were glad to come away with the win, but Mighty Pucks would have been good value for a point.

Gamblers faced Llantwit next, and weren't in the mood to take any prisoners following their win over Badgers.
Llantwit got on the scoreboard early on though, but all this seemed to do was focus the Gamblers on the task in front of them even more, and they soon started racking up the goals.
Llantwit fought hard and managed to claw a couple of goals back, but they couldn't muster enough to stop the Gamblers onslaught whose patience, stamina and speed ultimately won through with an 11-3 win.

Paignton were up against Mighty Pucks next in an all English affair.
The Dragons have had a strong season and dispatched most mid table teams pretty easily, but Mighty Pucks were motivated by their earlier performance and unlucky loss to Llanishen and were ready to push the Dragons all the way.
It was a tightly contested affair and ultimately a case of deja vu for the Mighty Pucks, as they were again inflicted with a 4-3 defeat.
It will have been a disappointing day for them with two losses, but after some tough games this season they will be confident of their chances next year with a full bench for every game.

It was a big game next, with a resurgent Panthers facing off against a Honey Badgers team that were both frustrated and deflated after losing to Gamblers earlier in the day. It's games like these that define a title, and if Honey Badgers were to stay on track they needed to lift themselves up and put in a professional performance.
It was a tense start to the game with neither side giving away many chances, but Badgers managed to scrape themselves into a lead and were ahead 2-1 approaching half time. Faced with a similar situation earlier in the day, Panthers dug deep then and turned it around, but that wasn't to be in this one and the Badgers did what they needed to do, keeping the Panthers at bay and taking their chances to come out eventual 6-1 winners, keeping themselves firmly in the title race in the process.

In the final game of the day, both Gamblers and Paignton were in action for their third game of the day. After two strong performances, both teams had two wins under their belt and Paignton may yet have had a say in the title race as they did when they inflicted defeat on a depleted Honey Badgers side earlier in the season.
Gowerton weren't in the mood to entertain that thought though and quickly raced into a 2-0 lead which just as quickly became a 4-0 lead as the game headed into half time.
Paignton battened down the hatches from that point on though and stemmed the Gamblers flow, but it was too late as the game ended 5-1.

It was another top day of hockey, with Gamblers making a huge statement about their title intentions. Badgers will feel their chances in the title race have slimmed somewhat but with so much talent in their team anything could happen between now an the final day.
It was a day full of passion, frustration and tension, but most of all a fantastic exhibition of Welsh hockey.

SEASON REVIEW 2017-2018

by Mike Vigar

Well another successful season at House of Sport has come to an end, and it has been the most competitive to date.

Congratulations to Caerphilly Hockey Club on taking the title in their first official season back in the Bipha South Wales league.
Their quality shone throughout the season and they are deserved champions who will be tough to beat at the nationals.
Also a big congratulations to Chris Thomas who is crowned top points scorer in his return season, helping Caerphilly to clinch that all important title.

Caerphilly dominated the points scoring table, but shoutouts should also go to the Newton brothers from Llantwit, Dan Clare from Panthers and Rob Green from Paignton who all racked up a lot of points.

It has been an exciting season with lots of close games, we've had last minute game tying goals, playoff-esque goalie pulls in the last minute with empty net goals (most famously when Llanishen inflicted Caerphilly's only defeat of the season) and teams taking points from each other up and down the league.
Panthers were consistent all season and finished second, with Llanishen third and Paignton fourth.
Crossbones had their best season yet, finishing fifth, whilst Swansea and Llantwit both took plenty of points and their positions don't reflect the quality of their play.

Most importantly, the league can't function without those that go the extra mile. A huge thank you to Graham, Sarah, Andrew and Tristan for timekeeping the vast majority of games, and a huge thanks to Dan Clare and J-Mac for reffing so many games, as well as Rich Brunnock, Sean Sokolyk, Jamie Hitchings, Fester, Mike Lucas, Owen and Dylan and Westy for reffing games too, the league really wouldn't happen without your extra effort.

Finally, we want to send our best wishes to those who are representing us at the Vets and Masters tournaments in Europe in the next few weeks. Ant Mundell, Steve Dickman and Lawrence James from Panthers are all heading out for the vets tournament, whilst Gibbo from Paignton is heading out to play in the masters with familiar faces Daniel Wood, Mike Newberry (as assistant captain) and James Morris from VCs.

All that is left to say in rounding off the season is thank you all for bringing hockey back to South Wales, and we hope to see you all again next season. If there are any teams struggling for players or goalies, let us know and we will help out where we can.