SHEFFIELD SCIMITARS 7-3 ALTRINCHAM ACES 20 OCTOBER 2002
Aces visited the League leaders who boasted a 100% record from their first 6 games with former Steelers, Neil Abel and Les Millie in their line up. Russ Richardson was serving a one match suspension that had also stopped him making his seasonal debut for the Storm.
The game had an ominous start as the first line change saw our second line overwhelmed by Sheffield's and after Phil Verstappen had batted up the puck after a close in save, the puck was netted by Neil Hardy. One down within two minutes. The Aces rallied and Jason Hewitt almost got on the end of a pass from Billy Price to turn the puck in and then the Aces were level. Billy found Greg Allen in space on the left during a 4 on 4 and Greg put it in inside the far post. Aces stayed under pressure but kept taking the game to the Scimitars with Billy Price impressive up front and Simon Mills and Les Millie involved in a great tussle that went on all night matching skilful defence and attack. Aces enjoyed a man advantage for a fair part of the second half of the period and it took a bit of Les Millie magic to separate the teams. Play had just got back to 5 on 5 and Millie got the puck just inside his half, skated into our end, used Simon as a screen and sent a wrist shot past Phil into the top corner.
The second period remained tight. Aces absorbed some pressure before Simon Mills released Billy Price on a break and Billy took the puck wide left before beating Matt Darlow to put the puck inside the far post. After an exchange of penalties had finished, Aces took the lead, Greg Allen setting up Billy on the left to lift the puck over the keeper. Aces had a minute of 5 on 3 before Jason Hewitt got frustrated at being hacked about in front of the net and slashed the defenceman to get suckered into the penalty. Scimitars took advantage of the powerplay as their two men rejoined as Neil Hardy got round the back of our defence at a face off to score high up. Phil had made two good saves, one a reflex save after a deflection but could not stop Dean Smith set up by John Ross after the pair had been released as an Aces attack broke down. Both sides needed their goalie to stop clear chances but the Scimitars took a one goal lead into the interval.
The question was could the Aces overcome the tiredness of having to match three or more lines against them and get goals? Unfortunately our attacks were getting less effective and the referee was getting a bit more lenient on the Scimitars physical play. Phil Verstappen denied Spencer Secker and Sheffield missed the target with the rebound before Billy just failed to get a shot inside the post on a break. With Aces under more pressure and the puck not running our way, it was Sheffield who scored next, Les Millie converting a rebound from a pad save. Aces were back on the powerplay with six minutes left and you sensed we had to score on it. Sheffield's third line did a great penalty killing job with plenty of fore-checking and the opening was never created. It was also no surprise that as the penalty ended, Sheffield went down the other end with John Ross converting an easy chance from a pass behind the net. With the game now over as a contest, Millie got his hat trick with a clinical finish to score low left.
A great contest for 40 minutes and Aces have proved Sheffield are beatable. The referee also attracted a lot of praise - Mr Young regularly conveying his decisions to the players throughout.
1-0 01.47 Hardy
1-1 04.49 Allen from Price
2-1 18.19 Millie
2-2 27.36 Price from Mills
2-3 31.09 Price from Allen and Hewitt
3-3 34.34 Hardy from Ross and Smith PPG
4-3 38.02 Smith from Ross
5-3 49.45 Millie from Ross
6-3 56.07 Ross from Smith and Millie
7-3 58.34 Millie from Ross
Kevin Cassidy, Greg Allen
1+1 (MoM), Steve Michie, Brian Worrall,
Jason Hewitt 0+1, Simon Mills 0+1, Arran Richardson, Dave Meikle , Stephen Elliott,
Billy Price 2+1, Luke Stretton, Steve Daly , Phil Keelan
Phil Verstappen (37s, 7g, 81.08%), Danny Higgin
SOG 37-34 Pens 22-12