September was as mixed as it could be for the Guildford Flames. 8 games, 4 wins, 4 losses. Broken out by competition: 4 league games, 2 wins, 2 losses. Exactly the same record in the Challenge Cup.
All game highlights can be found in this article, but before the videos it must be said that all is not quite as bland as the results suggest…
Following the pre-season games against MK Lightning, Coach Paul Dixon stated that it would be the end of September before the Flames would be firing on all cylinders, yet September saw the Flames dominate an arena team, nearly hit double figures away from home and pick up their first 4 point weekend.
The old guard…
It should come as absolutely no surprise at all that Dunbar, Watters & Reddick have all been back on form from the off. All with 8 games under belts, Watters sits on 9 points, Reddick’s on 8 points and Dunbar has 11. Jesse Craige has been chipping in from the blue line with 9 points to his name and Calle Ackered has 6 points.
Away from the points they’re scoring, two of those players have really stuck out in September. Kruise Reddick has come back from the summer break looking even better than he was last season and Calle Ackered has been an absolute rock in defence, making some superb last ditch poke checks.
In the net, Chris Carrozzi has been solid once more and despite backstopping a couple of losses, certainly cannot be at fault for the goals he has conceded.
New players stepping up
There can be no doubt that the new additions have made a big difference to the team overall. Evan Ritt has stood out in particular with his strong forechecking and stick handling skills from the off and is boasting a +4 +/- for the month. In defence, Corbin Baldwin is +3 and had looked impressive with his shot blocking ability, Jordan Abt has been reading the game well, quietly but efficiently keeping attackers at bay whilst showing a menacing shot from the point on occasion. Lindhagen has found himself all over the ice in multiple positions which has been a huge support for the team and it’s hard to believe that Nottingham let a player of his calibre go.
Travis Fullerton has shown he is more than worthy of a roster spot also, putting in the netminding performance of the month on his home debut to shut out the Glasgow Clan.
Kevin King and Jamie Crooks have been a slightly different story however. Right winger King has had to pick up the centerman duties all month on the second line, and has picked up just 1 goal in 6 games. Linemate Jamie Crooks, a sniper who thrives off a good feed has only scored 1 in 8, but the reason behind this is most definitely linked to the biggest issue which Guildford have had all month.
The absence of Brett Ferguson.
Ferguson is still yet to ice for the Flames after a month due to an ongoing visa issue which is tied to his summer in Australia. His application was submitted mid-July, but was submitted from Australia (rather than his native Canada) and recent changes to their visa process has left him high and dry, and Flames with a gaping hole in their second line. Dixon was hoping he would make it for the Devils/Panthers games last weekend, but it wasn’t to be. All eyes on next weekend – He is very much needed!
There is one man missing from the review so far who has had an outstanding start to his Flames career. Filling in on the 2nd line alongside King and Crooks, this young Brit playing his first year as a professional has exceeded all expectations with his fearless style of play and confidence to take on any defender who stands in his way. Already a key name on the GB U20 team sheet and looking certain to be a star for Team GB within the next few years – As voted for on the Guildford Flames Army Facebook page, the man with 45.31% of the vote and the fans player of the month for September:
#62 Josh Waller
Speaking exclusively to Chasing the Puck following his win, Josh said:
“Thank you, that’s great news! The fans have been amazing so far!
“My first month playing for the Flames has been great! We have a really good group of guys with a lot of talent and experience which is great for a young player like myself as I am learning new things every day that I can take away with me in the future”.
You appear to have made a seamless transition from juniors to professional level – How have you found life in the Elite League so far?
“Making the jump from juniors to the Elite league was definitely a decision I don’t regret! It’s a high level of hockey that I’m sure will develop me into the player I want to be one day”.
Josh’s message to the Flames fans:
“I know myself and I’m sure the other players can feel the energy you guys bring night in night out! Really appreciate the support!”
Whilst in a good position to progress form the group stages of the Challenge Cup, the Flames currently sit 7th overall in the league after their mixed start. You will be hard pressed to find a Flames fan who doesn’t feel a little hard done by following the 2 league losses against Fife and Nottingham, however. Flames outshot both teams, but an inspired performance from Fife’s Shane Owen saw him keep out 50 of 51 shots he faced as he went on to win both EIHL player of the week and CTP netminder of the week. And despite scoring 2 goals against the Panthers, Garnett wasn’t giving away any chances either.
Next month looks like this for Guildford – 9 games, 8 of which are in the league. There will be a lot of travelling and the Flames, who now have short roster following the departure of Kevin Phillips (story here) need to have a big month. Whilst the campaign is a long one, if the Flames cannot get a string of results on the board then any potential charge towards the top 4 spots in the league may become a distant memory.
Saturday 8th – Challenge Cup
Guildford Flames 2 – 1 Coventry Blaze
Sunday 9th – Challenge Cup
Coventry Blaze 3 – 2 Guildford Flames
Sunday 16th – League
Guildford Flames 5 – 1 Sheffield Steelers
Tuesday 18th – League
Guildford Flames 1 – 4 Fife Flyers
Saturday 22nd – Challenge Cup
MK Lightning 2 – 8 Guildford Flames
No highlights package released
Sunday 23rd – League
Guildford Flames 2 – 0 Glasgow Clan
Saturday 29th – Challenge Cup
Guildford Flames 2 – 5 Cardiff Devils
Sunday 30th – League
Guildford Flames 2 – 3 Nottingham Panthers