So far this season, the IIHL Development Division can only be classed as a complete success for its opening season. Not one team in any league is unbeaten, and no team is win-less, showing how any team can beat anyone else on its day. Sunday was no exception.
The IIHL D.D. All-Stars compiled of two players from each of the development league teams, and every goal scored in the game counted towards a total amount for charity. The players selected had the honour of playing in the Irish national teams jerseys, as I’m sure a few of them will hope to make the grade soon at one level or another.
The Flyers I.H.C., having finished up well in the IIHL, were the opposition, with a few new faces as well as the star duo of Dean Kelly and Barry Higgins. Both players have impressed this season and are looking forward to making the Irish National Team for Romania in April.
Both teams had some talented individuals going into this game, and at a fast paced game it was the All-Stars who drew first blood with a goal from the talented Roman Brocko, one of the table-topping Dublin Wolves’ selected players. After a mess in front of the Flyers goal, Brocko was there to put home the rebound with eleven minutes gone in the first.
This entertaining game went end to end for the rest of the first period with both teams hitting the pipe on behalf of Dean Kelly (who surely leads the league in hitting the post) and James “Bart” Gattensby, as well as some great saves from Dermot Carney and Dundalk Bulls Ladies’ goalie Seanna Conway, keeping the score down. It finished 1-0 to the All-Stars at the end of the first.
As the second period began, the All-Stars began to dominate the play, and were putting pressure on the Flyers defense. But it was the All-Stars who struck, doubling their advantage. Again, another partial rebound from a Roman Brocko shot fell into the path of Dundalk Bulls ‘B’ talisman, Miroslav Husar, who calmly put the puck in the back of the net, making it 2-0 to the All-Stars.
The All-Stars added a third from a Brocko slap-shot, after intercepting the puck at centre ice, he hit a shot that whizzed past the unsuspecting Carney at what seemed like bullet speed, just under the crossbar. The Wolves sniper had a hand in all three goals, and was an absolute handful for the Flyers defense.
The Flyers knew they were behind, and picked up the pace for the latter half of the second period, and had some great chances to score only to be denied by the crossbar again and by the All-Stars second goalie, Riley Gattensby. The second period finished 3-0 as the All-Stars seemed to be cruising.
It got even better for them as the All-Stars scored again, this time on the power-play, with an early 20th birthday goal from DkIT Ravens’ player, Michael Rogan, after a searching pass from Dublin Rams ‘B’ player, James Gillinger. This put the All-Stars seemingly out of reach. But the Flyers had a different plan.
They struck back with a goal from Steven Cooper, after an exquisite pass from young Barry Higgins. The Flyers all of a sudden started putting passes together, and were putting a lot of pressure on the All-Stars net.
The Flyers struck again after the duo of Higgins and Kelly combined, and as HIggins picked up his second assist, the Flyers started gaining momentum and seemed to be on the comeback trail.
Exactly one minute later, the Flyers made it 4-3, as Cooper was on hand again to slot the puck past Gattensby, who seemed to be left stranded by his non-existant back-checkers. Flyers coach Kieth Daly picking up the assist after a defense-splitting pass left the game within thier reach. The Flyers pushed on for an equaliser, but three minutes later, dangler Harry Maharaj from the Kilkenny City Storm, found himself on a breakaway from a Miroslav Husar pass, and put the puck glove-side high making it 5-3 to the All-Stars. Both teams pulled their goalies with one minute to go in the game in an attempt to get more goals for charity, but neither team wanted to concede and the game ended 5-3.
In an another attempt to increase the amount of goals, it was decided that a penalty shootout take place after the game. The Flyers won the shoot-out 2-1 when captain Mark Pepper gracefully scored the winner, after a surprise shot went top corner on Riley.
On conclusion of the game, both teams celebrated what was an excellent, fast paced affair, and showcased some of the talent in the IIHL D.D. which I’m sure IIHL coaches will be looking for, as they look to build for the 08-09 season.
Both teams would like to thank coaches for the night, Vytautas Lukosevicious, Barry O’Hanrahan & Dr. Peter Ting who were on the bench for the All-Stars. For the Flyers, Philip Darcy and Gary Rochfort.
Photographs are courtesy of Miceal O’Neill, more photographs can be viewed in the IIHA archive.