It is now over 15 years since Gary Cowan was forced to put the original Manchester Storm into receivership, and perhaps the perfect opportunity to reflect upon the great former players that have donned the infamous Storm jersey. This article will outline an All-Star squad and comprise solely of players from 1995-2002, vintage you could say…but definitely one for old school hockey lovers! Plus it might help distract you from the Black Friday madness…
1. Frank Pietranglo: arguably one of the greatest goaltenders ever to grace the British game, Pietranglo was the key component to Manchester Storm’s 1998/9 Superleague title with a remarkable 1.92 GAA and .931 SV% in 38 games. Prior to arriving in the UK, Pietranglo was a recipient of hockey’s ultimate prize…the Stanley Cup! Although, he was largely deployed as the back-up netminder during the play-off run, Pietranglo would ensure his name would go down in NHL history for one of the greatest saves ever made. In fact, this play has simply been named “The Save” (you might also recognise another name in the commentary, he is currently plying his trade as a Head Coach in the Elite League).
2. Colin Downie: this Scotsman was familiar figure for hockey fans in the North-West during the 90’s and early 2000s’. Downie repsented: Fife Fylers, Trafford Metros, Manchester Storm, Blackburn Hawks, Lancashire Hawks and Dundee Stars during his long career between the pipes. He is deserving of selection for his play in the 1995/6 season, Storm’s inaugural campaign, in which they won 49 games out of 52. During that season, Downie was netminding on 37 occasions and helped promote the Storm into the Superleague. Despite, many import goalies with superior pedigree and quality to Downie missing out, his early work should not go unnoticed.
1. Jeff Lindsay: the Storm captain from 1995 to 1997, Lindsay was an offensive defencemen with a huge slapshot that also possessed play-making abilities on the powerplay. Despite being under 6ft, not typical for a blueliner in the physical British game, Lindsay wore the ‘C’ with pride and protected his players no-end with a willingness to drop the gloves earning him much respect. The leap up to the BISL from BD1 was significant and so were the changes before the 1997/8 season, Lindsay was one of many not to return.
2. Kevin Hoffman: having previously spent three years playing in the Japanese League and just one season in the ECHL for Raleigh IceCaps, Hoffman was somewhat of an unknown commodity when arriving in Manchester. However, after three seasons of consistent play and solid forechecking Hoffman would more then make a name for himself. In the three years representing Manchester, Hoffman played 123 times and was one of the most popular players on and off the ice.
3. Troy Neumeier: the former Vancouver Canucks draft pick, in 1990, lists 5th overall in games played for Manchester Storm with 129 appearances over four years. Neumeier was an alternative captain for all of those season’s and is considered by many as one of the greatest players to have iced for the Storm. A smooth skater and daunting figure for any forward in the BISL, Neumeier was one the easier picks for this All-Star squad.
4. Kris Miller: another easy selection, the American defencemen was a bonafide star in the BISL and ranks second overall in games played for the Storm with 185 outings. Supremely talented and an offensive threat from the blueline, Miller anchored the powerplay for the four and a half years (the other half year was spent in Switzerland for EHC Basel Dragons).
5. Dale Jago: 164 points in 104 games give you an idea of Jago’s ability to produce points from the point. Although, 120 points (44G 76A) did come in one ludicrous season in BD1, in which he averaged 3.16 points per game. An alumni of Minnesota-Duluth University, well known for its hockey programme, Jago enjoyed his time with the Storm and was awarded the Fans Players of Year in the 1995/6 seasons.
6. Blair Scott: the heavy frame of Blair Scott was felt by many a player in the BISL. A debut season with the Basingstoke Bison impressed many and saw him offered a more lucrative contract in Manchester. Scott decided to take his talents North and would wear the ‘C’ for the 2000/1 season. However the following season he would return South, this time to Bracknell who were the defending BISL champions.
The following article (Part 2) will consist of the All-Star forwards, twelve in total, and coaching staff of the original Manchester Storm. Further acknowledgements will be made of players that just miss out on the All-Star squad in the form of honourable mentions. I hope you have enjoyed taking a lot back at some of the old faces in the BISL and Manchester Storm. These greats should not be forgotten or allowed to drift off into the nostalgic vista that many a sports star does.
All the hockey card images were sourced from: http://www.inthecrease.co.uk/html/itcstormcards.html