The start of the British Para Ice Hockey League has been dominated so far by the defending league champions in the Kingston Kestrels, who have looked a cut above the rest of the teams in the league so far.
It has seen the Hull-based side repeating their league form from last season, as they remain unbeaten with three wins from three games and haven’t lost a league game since way back in July of 2016.
A stunning start by the champions saw their defence getting underway with an emphatic 9-1 win over the playoff champions in the Manchester Mayhem at Widnes, with GB forward Matt Clarkson netting a magnificent seven goals in the win. The victory was sweet revenge for the men from Hull, as it was Manchester who inflicted the Kestrels only loss last season in the playoffs semi-final meeting.
Next up for Kingston was a ‘White Rose’ derby against neighbours Sheffield at the Hull Ice Arena and ended with another thrashing by the Kestrels, as they hammered the Steelkings 10-0. It saw another goalscoring masterclass from Matt Clarkson, who kept up his early season form to bag eight-goals in thwin.
Meanwhile, later in the day, the Peterborough Phantoms and the Manchester Mayhem played out a much closer game down at Bretton, where Manchester shipped two late goals and had to settle for a draw. The Mayhem were 4-2 up with less than five minutes to play, but that was until the Phantoms battled back and forced a late 4-4 draw with Peterborough’s Matt Coleman picking up a hat-trick in the game.
Cardiff Huskies became the next side to face the juggernaut of Kingston – and became the third side to feel the attacking force of the champions and were sent packing and licking their wounds back down to South Wales after falling to a 6-0 defeat.
In the first week of June, the Peterborough Phantoms had the rare occurrence of playing twice over the weekend, with a home game against Cardiff and an away trip to Sheffield on Sunday.
The Phantoms were left frustrated in their opening game of the weekend against Cardiff, after a late, late goal by the Huskies with 52.2 seconds of the game remaining saw the Welsh side taking a point in a 2-2 draw at Planet Ice Peterborough.
After throwing away victory the night before against Cardiff, the Peterborough side then headed up the A1 to the ‘Steel City’ of Sheffield and shut out the hometown Steelkings 3-0 at Ice Sheffield – to move up the standings into the second and move within two points of the leaders Kingston.
This past weekend saw a physical and feisty clash between the Manchester Mayhem and the Cardiff Huskies at Altrincham’s Planet Ice rink, as the Mayhem prevailed 3-1 thanks to a Karl Nicholson hat-trick, while Tyler Christopher scored the only goal for the side from South Wales.
16 June: Sheffield v Kingston (at Ice Sheffield 2130)
23 June: Cardiff v Sheffield (at Ice Arena Wales 1715)
30 June: Cardiff v Manchester (at Ice Arena Wales 1715)