IN another controversial night of ice hockey, the Chelmsford Chieftains rode out 7-5 winners against Romford Raiders after a solid performance in front of 1,039 fans and an Olympic medallist at Riverside on Sunday night.
Before the game, Essex hockey star and London 2012 bronze medal winner Chloe Rogers did a ceremonial puck drop to a great reception from both sets of fans.
Early goals from Tom Castle and Gary Clarke set the tone after a bit of rough stuff early on, with Ryan Giles clashing with Chelmsford youngster Grant Bartlett.
Grant Taylor then pulled one back for Romford Raiders before Frankie Harvey tied the game with a penalty shot past Ben Clements in the Chieftains net.
Late on in the period, the Chieftains got a five-on-three powerplay and made it count as seconds into it Clarke scored again with a nice finish into the top corner of Gray’s net before Michael Ranby made it 4-2 before the period was over.
Into the second and it was two goals apiece in the period with Harvey netting early on, before Julius Sinkovic restored the lead and then it was extended when Danny Hammond put the puck away.
Romford called a time out at this stage, but that wasn’t the end of things as Gray and Ranby clashed in front of the benches and players had to pull them apart before it got out of hand.
At 34:39 Matt Turner scored the goal of the night and probably a contender for goal of the season with a sublime finish that saw him take it through three Chelmsford players before flicking it past Clements which saw many Chelmsford fans applauding their former hero for an excellent goal.
As the third got under way, it was clear how the game was likely to go as the rough stuff really came to the fore with Romford’s Andrius Kaminskas attacking Hammond behind the play which saw him sit for four minutes of penalties.
Sinkovic then scored again to make it 7-4 just before Cameron Bartlett tried to get revenge for his twin brother with a few punches on Giles, but Giles shrugged him off and allowed the referee to send Bartlett for a roughing penalty.
Romford went close through Juraj Huska with a cracking build-up play that saw the Chieftains defence ripped apart again with some nice touches from the attacking forwards.
At 55:19 AJ Smith made it 7-5 and a tense finish was in the offing between the two top of the table sides, but sadly events on and off the ice took away from what should have been a tight ending to the game.
Tom Davis took a two-minute hooking penalty which seemed to wind things up again and Kaminskas fired the puck down the ice in anger and earnt himself a ten-minute misconduct penalty and then on his way to the box talked himself into another ten-minute which saw him then upgraded to a game misconduct.
On his way off the ice he smashed his stick on the ice and got involved with a few fans with some verbal exchanges that threatened to escalate.
Meanwhile on the other side of the ice behind the Romford bench and in front of things were still going on and it nearly got out of hand but security were quick to get involved.
It was later revealed some home fans had tried to get onto the Romford bench and beer had been thrown into the bench from behind.
The Chelmsford management were very quick to make a stand and immediately after the game issued the following statement: “Tonight was a good win marred by the actions of a few of our own supporters. Aggressive behaviour towards the away bench will not be tolerated and these fans are now banned indefinitely.”
Alex Staples and Harvey picked up the man of the match awards after fine performances and these were presented by Chloe Rogers, again to a great reception.