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Chieftains defeat means it's tight at the top
5:05pm Wednesday 13th March 2013 in Local Sport
ICE HOCKEY: After a disappointing defeat to title challengers Wightlink Raiders on Saturday night, Chelmsford Chieftains returned to form against a poor Hornets side on Sunday.
A hat-trick from player-coach Gary Clarke was more than enough to defeat a Hornets side that offered little apart from a strong performance from netminder Chris Douglas, despite the scoreline.
Danny Hammond, Tom Castle, Michael Ranby, Cameron Bartlett and Tibor Schneider all netted alongside Clarke who picked up the man of the match award.
A late goal from Carl Thompson ruined the night for Ben Clements who had otherwise had a perfect game and hadn’t allowed any shot to pass him by.
It was a clinical display from the Chieftains who would no doubt have been disappointed on the trip back from the south coast on Saturday evening after slipping up 6-3 to an in-form Wightlink Raiders.
The Raiders went into the game knowing it was nigh on a win or bust game for them as they are the third part of the three-way title challenge with the other team being Romford Raiders.
Wightlink were ranked lowest of the three going into the game and many expected them to play their usual style of ice hockey, but Jeremy Cornish led his men out in a disciplined and orderly fashion and it made for a thoroughly entertaining evening’s entertainment.
Two goals from Tribe and Smith put the home side ahead before Hammond netted to bring the score back to 2-1. Murray then scored to go 3-1 up and it looked like the Chieftains would be on the end of a big scoreline.
However, Hammond then found the net again before Grant Bartlett tied the game up at 3-3.
Robbie Brown made it 4-3 just before the second break and it was all to play for in the third.
Both sides threw everything they had at the other and a Cornish goal made it 5-3 and it was always going to be difficult to come back.
Clarke took the decision to pull Ryan Bainborough for an extra skater late on, but it didn’t pay off as Facey netted with seconds to go to kill off any hope of a comeback.
The weekend’s results leave the Chieftains one point ahead of Wightlink and two ahead of Romford with a game in hand on both of them.
Next weekend sees Cardiff Devils come to town on Saturday evening for what is a must-win game for the Chieftains to keep themselves ahead of the pack, before Sunday sees the team head the short distance down the A12 to Romford for what is likely to be a make or break game for the Raiders, as defeat would leave them four points off the lead with the Chieftains having a game in hand.
With only four games left to play, it would mean the following Sunday’s home game against Wightlink Raiders could well be the title decider.