Following a mixed bag of results in September, the Flames would have been hoping for better in October. The month consisted of 9 games for the Flames, 8 of which counted towards the league and just 1 towards the Challenge Cup group. The outcome? Things are on the up!
As with the September review, all game highlights can be found in this article.
Flames kicked off the month with the announcement that after 3 seasons, Kevin Phillips had asked to leave the club with immediate effect. Whilst there was an element of shock throughout the fanbase, Phillips was not getting any ice time due to Lindhagen being preferred in defence, so his time at Guildford appeared to be over before he had a chance to get his 4th season with the team started. Whilst Phillips is still clearly capable of playing at Elite League level, the announcement 2 days later that he had returned to his hometown of Hull came as little surprise.
Coach Paul Dixon had stated that by October he expected the team to be up to speed, so despite the Phillips departure, the Flames kicked off the month with 2 wins against Dundee. It was not convincing however, with the Flames squandering a 4-0 lead in the first game, eventually winning 6-5.
The game in Dundee the next night saw Flames win 4-2, but marked the start a gruelling 7 day travel schedule where they would play midweek in Belfast, away to Fife on the Saturday and home to Fife on the Sunday. Nearly 2,800 miles and 3 straight losses. But barring the Saturday 6-3 blowout in Fife, the Flames were unlucky not to pick up any points against Belfast and also came within a goal of Fife at the Spectrum.
The Flames had a week to reflect on the results before they had to play Belfast again, this time at the Spectrum. The big news of the month came at 6am on the morning of the game, when the club announced the signing of T.J Foster, who was in attendance for the game, which saw the Flames win a thrilling encounter 3-2.
T.J Foster wasn’t alone in hospitality box 2 for the game though – He was joined by former Flames Ben and Tom Duggan and their younger brother, Sam, who had returned from a short spell in America and now signed for the Cardiff Devils.
Flames stayed at home for a midweek encounter against the Sheffield Steelers, where they picked up another win, but not in the usual Flames fashion. They looked off the pace for the majority of the game and did well to come away with 2 points. Box 2 was back in use for this game also – Jamie Crooks was joined by Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech.
The final weekend of the month saw the Flames travel away to faceoff against the Cardiff Devils in Challenge Cup action, followed the next night by the first visit of the season from the Manchester Storm.
There was little expectation of getting a result in Cardiff, even from the most ardent supporters, but the Flames turned up with the confidence of their last 2 wins and they took it to the Devils, becoming the first UK team to beat the Devils at IAW this season and the first since the Manchester Storm won there back in March.
And speaking of the Manchester Storm – The Flames shut them out 4-0 to close the month out in what turned out to be one of the most violent encounters of the season, which saw Balmer, Ehrhardt and Coach Finnerty all receive bans.
The 3 final wins saw the Flames beat the top 3 teams of 2017/2018. Chris Carrozzi found himself nominated for the CTP Netminder of the Week award and John Dunbar won the EIHL Player of the Week.
And on the subject of awards, the Guildford Flames Army Facebook page have spoken once more and Flames fans have voted for their October Player of the Month! 17 players received votes, but the winner with nearly double the amount of votes than the man in second place:
Evan, congratulations on being voted by the fans as the Flames Player of the Month in October!
“I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting this, especially with the talent we have on our roster and some of the performances we have had lately, but I’m glad the fans are enjoying my game and I hope we can keep building as a team.”
How have you found life in the UK and in the Elite League so far?
“So far, in Guildford it’s been nice. I love the downtown here and have been able to explore around a little while the weather has been warm.
“The Elite League has been good as well. I’m excited to see how we develop as a team toward winning a championship. I won a championship in my last year of university with Evan Janssen, so I know how special seasons like that are.”
You have already impressed the Flames fanbase with your style of play and last week was particularly physical for you. How are you feeling after such a tough week?
“Yeah, last week was pretty physical, but I’m actually feeling good for the most part. Just some bumps and bruises. I try to take good care of my body – I eat my veggies!”
Evan’s message to the Flames fans:
“Thanks again for the support. We really appreciate all that the Flames fans do for us, and I hope we can keep building the fan base here in Guildford. Go Flames!”
The Flames go into November looking at a 9 game schedule (8 league, 1 Challenge Cup) which starts with a double header against the MK Lightning. The following weekend they travel away to Sheffield and face the Nottingham Panthers at the Spectrum the next night.
The following weekend will stick out particularly for both the fans and players as they faceoff in a double header against the Manchester Storm in the Storm Shelter, followed by the Spectrum. The Storm Shelter isn’t a venue which will feature very high up a list of favourite EIHL rinks for the Flames team, having lost all 4 encounters there last season, including the only shut out of the Flames’ Elite League history to date. And if that’s not bad enough, it’s hard to imagine anything other than a very physical encounter with the Storm looking for revenge over the recent shut out and numerous bans they received at the Spectrum.
The following Wednesday (21st) the Flames will be back on Freesports & Premier Sports as they take on the Coventry Blaze. They close out the month by travelling to Glasgow, then welcome the Belfast Giants back for their third encounter of the season.
Saturday 6th – League
Guildford Flames 6 – 5 Dundee Stars
Sunday 7th – League
Dundee Stars 2 – 4 Guildford Flames
Wednesday 10th – League
Belfast Giants 3 – 2 Guildford Flames
Saturday 13th – League
Fife Flyers 6 – 3 Guildford Flames
Sunday 14th – League
Guildford Flames 5 – 6 Fife Flyers
Sunday 21st – League
Guildford Flames 3 – 2 Belfast Giants
Wednesday 24th – League
Guildford Flames 3 – 2 Sheffield Steelers
Saturday 27th – Challenge Cup
Cardiff Devils 3 – 5 Guildford Flames
Saturday 28th – League
Guildford Flames 4 – 0 Manchester Storm