Streatham Redskins 2–7 Chelmsford Chieftains
Will Sanderson insists Streatham Redskins will lay their bodies on the line to overturn a five-goal deficit in the second leg of their NIHL Cup final at Chelmsford Chieftains tonight.
Juraj Huska, Darren Brown and Cameron Bartlett handed the Chieftains a commanding first period lead before a break in play saw Sanderson replace David Wride in the Streatham goal.
But the visitors scored another four through Grant Bartlett and Matthew Turner’s hat-trick, and although Nicky Chinn and Callum Best ensured it wasn’t a whitewash, Redskins know they’ll need the game of their lives to turn the tie around.
However Sanderson hasn’t given up hope of pulling off a miraculous comeback and says the Easter break will allow his teammates the opportunity to leave everything they’ve got on the ice.
“We could have done with going into tonight with a tighter result, we know that. No one’s happy with it but the only thing we can take from it is we can go for the greatest comeback in the world,” said Sanderson.
“No way are we going to give up put it that way. We’re 7-2 down but we’ve got a whole game to play, we’ve got to put everything out there.
“We can’t give up on ourselves, we’ve got to go into it positive, go all out and give everything we can because otherwise what’s the point?
“Most of us have got Monday off so we’ve got nothing to save our energy for. We’ll sleep all day on Monday if we have to but we all want to leave Chelmsford knowing we’ve given our all.”
Streatham started strongly against the league winners, but the size of the task at hand was made apparent when Huska and Brown scored within 26 seconds of each other in the ninth minute to leave the home side stunned.
When Cameron Bartlett scored just six minutes later and Turner further extended Chelmsford’s lead four minutes into the second period, the contest could have come to a premature end but Streatham refused to throw in the towel.
Frequent efforts were repeatedly saved by Chelmsford’s Euan King until Chinn found a way past him on 35 minutes, and the Welshman believes that although the Redskins were second best, if they can sharpen their shooting then there is reason to be optimistic.
“It was the biggest game of the year and we just made silly mistakes really, maybe the occasion got to some players, it wasn’t the team and the hockey we normally play,” said Chinn.
“It’s definitely not out of reach, we have to improve obviously but we still created lots of chances, we just need to bury them.
“That was the difference they were clinical and we were a little bit lackadaisical, there’s still a chance.”
That chance was made slimmer though as Grant Bartlett tapped in with 12 seconds of the second period remaining to make it 5-1, leaving the hosts thoroughly dejected.
And although Turner sealed his hat-trick with two goals in the final period, a last minute strike by Best does at least offer Streatham something to fight for.
The return of Chris Wiggins, who missed last night’s action through suspension, will no doubt provide a boost to the south London outfit, and Sanderson is sure his physical presence will prove vital in trying to turn the tide of the match.
“They’ve got a couple of guys who think they can bully around and with Wiggy on the ice they’re not going to be so confident,” added Sanderson.
“The other big thing is that they have a lot of players that use their skill but they’re not the biggest guys in the world and they like to be able to play the puck around and do what they want.
“If they get hit into the boards a couple of times suddenly the momentum goes our way, their heads go down and they start to worry about it every time they get the puck so hopefully Wiggins can bring a bit of strength and people like Best and Fisher can put them away for us.”
Feature image of Will Sanderson courtesy of Rick Webb, with thanks