On Saturday 15th January 2011 the u10′s Merlins made the trip down to the Lammas Leisure Centre to play our return match against Sutton Sting. This is a real test for our players with the Sutton home ice being a lot smaller than Blackburn and the home team enjoying a deserved run of results that have left them unbeaten at the top of our league.
The Blackburn team were forced to travel short handed with some players out due to injury and family commitments but we brought every available player to the ice.
From the first face off, it was clear that our training and coaching over Christmas and New Year had paid off with every line making Sutton work hard for the goals. Notable in our Line 1 was Helmut Klovans playing up from Line 2 and spending every shift getting into the thick of it assisting Nathan Dove in breaking up moves and clearing the lines whenever he could. Netminder Mattie Holden continued to show what a great shot stopper he is between the pipes with a string of point blank saves throughout the match. He will be missed next season when he moves up to the 12′s. Jacob Lutwyche had a massive game, taking the puck forward in the teeth of some physical marking that resulted in a couple of penalties on the Sting for tripping and a blatant shoulder charge. He didn’t mind the knocks because as he said afterwards, the concentration on him left the space open for our first goal of the season. MVP Alfie Jones made one of his typically strong breaks over the opposition blue line and the puck broke free to Rob Thomas who fired in from long range with a rocket shot that was only seen by the Sting netminder as it passed by on its way to the back of the net.
Line two scrapped hard for every shift with Daniel Horton and Alex Lutwyche busy in defence showing improved positional awareness whilst Helena Latwell Watts and two pickups from the Sting took the forward duties.
Line three continued to show ability to break from defence with Keiron Furlong and Keiran Lucas providing a constant threat that always seemed to be thwarted by the buzzer. Our smallest players Lucas Vince and Callum Preston stood up well against a much bigger Sutton Sting line and Chloe Strong covered every inch of ice to get in on the action
This is the first goal that we have scored this season and for it to come against a skilled and organised side like Sutton shows just how far the Merlins have progressed. This is a very young side that will continue to improve at u10′s level season by season. Many thanks to our coaches for all the work to date, also the parents and supporters but most of all to the players for keeping going, trying their best every shift and bringing a grin to the face of every parent behind the perspex.
A photo gallery and video match report will follow next week.