Autumn Cup champions – TV and newspaper reports

Manchester Storm

B&H Cup Champions 1999


WHAT THE PAPERS SAID A review of the national newspaper coverage

THE GUARDIAN By Vic Batchelder at Sheffield Arena

A nerve-racking Benson & Hedges Cup final was finally resolved 43 in Manchester Storm’s favour on Saturday night – but not before eight penalty attempts had been missed in a traumatic shootout. Storm’s saviour was their veteran Canadian forward Rick Brebant who, collecting the puck from the centre spot, coolly skated in on Knights’ netminder Mark Cavallin and beat him low to his right. Earlier a 10-minute sudden-death overtime session had failed to break the 33 tie.

Afterwards the 35-year-old revealed his motivation for scoring: he did not want to treat his team-mates to doughnuts. `We have penalty shots after every practice,’ Brebant said, `and the loser buys doughnuts for everyone.’ Jeff Jablonski, the team’s equal top goalscorer, was not included on Kurt Kleinendorst’s list of designated shooters, but the Storm coach was unperturbed by his absence. `You’d be surprised how often Jabber buys doughnuts,’ he explained. The coach suggested that his team’s involvement in penalty shootouts to decide several of their European Hockey League games had given them an advantage over London in this encounter.

Brebant’s winner was some consolation for his part in London’s equalising goal, scored by Claudio Scremin with only 46 seconds of normal time remaining and only nine seconds after Cavallin had been replaced by an extra skater. Hustled by the London forward Ian Cooper in Manchester’s defensive zone, Brebant lost possession of the puck and Scremin netted from close range. `I thought it was interference but those things happen,’ Brebant said. `And I kind of got my own back.’ Kleinendorst stood by his man, however, saying: `It wasn’t Rick’s fault that they scored. There are other people on the ice and we had a guy standing there who just didn’t pick Scremin up.’

Earlier, Marc Hussey and Rob Kenny had given the Knights a 20 lead by the 11th minute. But Pierre Allard’s goal 95 seconds from the first interval, and another by the former Knights’ forward Mike Harding two minutes into the second period, levelled the scores. Controversy surrounded Manchester’s third in the 49th minute, Jablonski netting while the London captain Rob Kenny was sin-binned for an elbows offence. To many it seemed the officials based this call more on the evidence of a television replay shown live in the arena than on the play itself.

(c) The Guardian THE GUARDIAN, 6TH DECEMBER 1999

THE TIMES December 06th,1999 Norman de Mesquita

MANCHESTER Storm won the Benson and Hedges Cup at Sheffield Arena on Saturday, but it took a penalty shoot-out to separate them from the London Knights at the end of the most thrilling final in the eight-year history of the event.

When Marc Hussey and Rob Kenny gave London a 2-0 lead by the twelfth minute, it looked as though a one-sided final would unfold, but Pierre Allard pulled one back for Storm before Mike Harding fired home from 40 feet to make it 2-2 in the second period. It was no surprise when Jeff Jablonski gave the Storm the lead for the first time, but with less than a minute to go, Knights removed Mark Cavallin, the netminder, to play an extra forward and it paid off as Claudio Scremin scored. A scoreless ten-minute overtime gave way to penalty shots. Rick Brebant was the only one to be successful for Manchester, but Pietrangelo saved all five of London’s efforts and the Cup was bound for the North West.

Christopher Irvine says the FA Cup could learn from ice hockey.

Maybe football should adopt ice hockey’s far more fun and equitable penalty shoot-out. No plain spot hit, but a dribble from the halfway line and a choice to chip, welly or skirt round the advancing netminder. Watching Jeff Tomlinson reduce the fastest game on earth to pea-roller pace with his opening effort was a reminder of what it is to be caught in three minds. Tomlinson shared in the agony with seven others on Saturday night and joined his Manchester Storm team-mates in the celebrations after the only successful penalty by Rick Brebant memorably won a humdinger of a Benson and Hedges Cup final from London Knights.

The event is always described as ice hockey’s FA Cup Final, but when did the big day at Wembley last offer a gripping, uplifting spectacle through the tangle of nerve-ends and overblown hype? With ice hockey being on the margins of sporting consciousness, it is important to deliver on such an occasion. On an evening when the final could have been held on the frozen car park, the atmosphere inside Sheffield Arena was electric for a game that crackled like fat on a hot plate. So what that London Knights failed to win and possibly advance the game’s development opportunities, they played their part in a classic. Word will get round. Much has been put on the Knights’ padded shoulders and spooling back to the heady Thirties and Wembley Lions. Like rugby league with London Broncos, who found it all downhill after reaching the Challenge Cup final in May, the adage that, if the sport is strong in London, it is strong generally, rings only half-true. Manchester, Sheffield and Nottingham have proved pretty attractive for ice hockey without worrying whether the game in the capital will take off. As it is, crowds are building at the Knights’ refurbished Docklands Arena, they lead the Superleague and the manner of their first final defeat can only bind them closer under the charismatic Chris McSorley, who, if was not coaching, could try spin-doctoring – “I wasn’t brought here to kiss sisters, but to bring the bride home” – who, as well as a new line in sound-bites, knows a good story. After the press conference had burst into spontaneous applause, McSorley said: “Our fans are getting behind a winning team and we’re going to win a lot more hockey games. Right now, we’re still dating our sisters, but I think you’ll see us go from tears to beers very soon.” For which he may soon be joined not by any sister, but one of five brothers, Marty McSorley, the famous and infamous on-ice bodyguard to the legendary Wayne Gretzky. The McSorley brothers would be some double act: Chris the talker and Marty the enforcer, one of the game’s true hatchet men, who is third on the north America National Hockey League all-time penalty list, with more than 50 hours clocked up in the sin-bin. London’s existing hard-man trio of Greg Smyth, Mike Ware and Darren Banks already have been compared to the fictional Hanson brothers, whose antics turned Slapshot into a cult film. Banks, as befits someone who has been a Viper, Dragon, Falcon and Bullfrog in his trawl through America and Europe, managed 16 minutes of kicking his blades in the penalty box. Not that it was the war McSorley had talked of. Far from it. It was a wonderfully skilful, breathless encounter, in which both sides appeared to be slip-slidin’ away, before dragging themselves back to 3-3. With just two British-born players in the line-ups, the national anthem seemed highly inappropriate. When Mike Harding brilliantly shot Manchester level at 2-2, it was tempting to think of the Rochdale Cowboy, but like the majority, Harding hails from Canada, not Spotland. Homegrown players such as Scott Campbell, who joined the Storm after McSorley axed him at London, are like four-leaf clovers. For the supporters, who think nothing of donning shirts, size extra extra enormous, overtime and penalties tested even their capacity to whoop it up for three hours. The anxiety was evident in Tomlinson’s penalty take, but not with Frank Pietrangelo in the Manchester goal, whose fingers don’t glisten with two Stanley Cup rings for nothing. He saved five times, outstandingly. Three weeks before at Sheffield, Brebant had a shot blocked off the line that would have taken Great Britain into the world championships next year. This time he would not be denied. More penalty shoot-outs like this, please.

(c) Times Newspapers Ltd, 1999 TIMES, 06TH DECEMBER 1999

INDEPENDENT December 06th,1999 Ian Parkes at Sheffield Arena

KURT KLEINENDORST, the Manchester Storm coach, fears his side would have fallen apart had they lost Saturday’s Benson and Hedges Cup final. Storm triumphed courtesy of Rick Brebant scoring the only goal in a penalty shoot-out after 70 minutes of drama here. The Superleague champions have failed to live up to their billing in recent months, particularly in Europe. Five successive group defeats have had an adverse effect on their domestic form, in which they have won three of their last 12 games.

Manchester trail the leaders London by eight points with the midway point of the season approaching – although Kleinendorst is confident that this victory in the Cup will be the spark to fire his team’s campaign. “Defeat would have been absolutely devastating for us,” he said. “Team morale would have been as low as it could have possibly been if we had lost. But the fact that we were able to come back and win this game in a shoot-out is huge and instead morale is about as high as it could be right now.” Manchester were 2-0 down inside the opening 12 minutes following goals from Marc Hussey and the Knights captain Rob Kenny, before coming back to tie the game with two goals in three minutes either side of the first interval. Pierre Allard and Mike Harding levelled matters, with Storm then taking the lead in controversial fashion as referee Andy Carson appeared to call a penalty off the giant screen – an illegal move. With four seconds left on the powerplay, Storm capitalised and looked all set to celebrate until Claudio Scremin’s equaliser 46 seconds from time.

After a fruitless overtime period, Manchester netminder Frank Pietrangelo saved all five of London’s penalty shots to help his side to a victory which has only steeled Knights’ resolve. London coach Chris McSorley refused to comment on Carson’s game-turning call, other than to say he did not wish to add to the “league’s fine fund”. Caption: Rick Brebant’s lone penalty success in the shoot-out gives Manchester Storm the Benson & Hedges Cup on Saturday Simon Wilkinson


FRANK PIETRANGELO put the memories of two ignominious league performances against London Knights behind him to inspire Manchester Storm to victory in a dramatic Benson and Hedges Cup final. Pietrangelo saved all five London penalty shots at Sheffield Arena on Saturday to complete a Manchester fightback which saw them recover from a two-goal deficit then a last-minute London equaliser.

The 3-3 draw was full of controversy. It was when the match moved to penalties that Pietrangelo displayed his class and composure. Twice this season, he had been on the end of chastening defeats at the hands of London, on one occasion being beaten from the halfway line by a speculative shot and on the other, being taken off when the Knights struck four quick goals past him. This time, when the stakes were higher, Pietrangelo provided the perfect answer. But if the final will be remembered for high drama, it was also notable for a bizarre incident which allowed Storm to take a 3-2 lead, after conceding early goals to Marc Hussey and Rob Kenny and equalising with strikes from Pierre Allard and Mike Harding. In the 46th minute, with the scores level, referee Andy Carson missed an elbow by Kenny on his former team-mate Scott Campbell. The incident was then replayed on Sheffield’s big screen and, on the advice of a linesman, Carson appeared to use video evidence to award a penalty against Kenny. With four seconds remaining of the resulting power-play, Jeff Jablonski scored for Manchester. Claudio Scremin’s goal with 46 seconds left took the game into overtime and, eventually, penalties. “If I make a comment about that penalty, I will personally be made to pay for the latest renovations to Superleague headquarters,” said Chris McSorley, the London coach. Kurt Kleinendorst, the Manchester coach, said the screen showed referee Carson had his back to the replay when it was shown and added: “It was definitely a penalty anyway.” Carson was unavailable for comment.

Copyright 1999 The Daily Telegraph.


FINESSE and technique rather than brute force and intimidation were the deciding factors as Manchester Storm overcame London Knights in a penalty shoot-out after a pulsating Benson & Hedges Cup final in Sheffield last night. With the match tied 3-3 after extra-time, Great Britain international Rick Brebant and goal-tender Frank Pietrangelo, who saved all five penalties, were the Manchester heroes.

All the talk in the build-up had focused on the apparent contrast in styles presented by the teams: the physical Knights against the more skilful, but rather more fragile, Storm. But you do not get to top the Superleague by brute force alone, and London’s consistency in recent weeks has been based on strength in all areas. Manchester came into the game struggling for any sort of form, beaten 6-4 by Ayr in their last game, a performance which left coach Kurt Kleinendorst gloomily muttering that things could only improve. They did. After a slow start, Storm lived up to their name, outplaying, out-thinking and outlasting the Knights. It took the Knights less than two minutes to make their point, Marc Hussey’s shot after assists by Jeff Hoad and Darren Banks squeezing past Pietrangelo. Storm survived that and a two-minute power play when Darren Hurley was penalised for tripping and began to work their way into the game. It was against the run of play when the Knights doubled their lead. Storm lost Kevin Pozzo to a two-minute interference penalty and the Knights took advantage, Kenny seizing his chance as the puck came loose from the face-off. It was crucial for Storm to strike back quickly, and they did. With 90 seconds of the first period remaining, French international Pierre Allard, sharp and alert, capitalised on a spell of pressure to beat goal-tender Mark Cavallin from close range, Mike Morin and the Finn Sami Wahlsten being credited with assists. Shortly after the restart they were level, Mike Harding beating Cavallin from distance during a power play, the Knights having lost Banks to a roughing penalty.

London coach Rob McSorley had forecast a high-scoring game despite his team’s defensive strength. It looked as though he was going to be proved correct because suddenly it was all Manchester, with London reduced to desperate, scrambling defence. In the circumstances the last thing London needed was to lose Banks to a multiple penalty, two minutes for tripping plus a personal 10 minutes for dissent. They held on, scrapping like street fighters, despite incurring a furthur penalty, losing Greg Burke for cross-checking. As the third period drew on, fatigue began to have an effect. Tempers began to fray and whenKenny elbowed Scott Campbell in the face with the puck yards away, the match was in danger of boiling over. The captain had let his team down; yet again Manchester had the man advantage, and this time they made it count, Jeff Jablonski flicking home from close range with just a couple of seconds of the power play remaining. Now Banks lost it completely, incurring a further four minutes worth of penalties. With three minutes remaining, London were restored to full strength and laid siege to the Storm goalmouth. Banks had already missed a good chance when with barely half a minute remaining, Claudio Scremin got on the end of a scramble.

After the game, McSorley refused to blame his team for the number of penalties they conceded. “By the third period we were running on empty.” Kleinendorst paid tribute to his team: “We know that in big games like this we have the players who can rise to the occasion and that’s what we saw tonight.” (c) Times Newspapers Ltd, 1999 NEWS INTERNATIONAL


Scott Campbell reflected on a month of mixed fortunes yesterday which ended in elation when he won a Benson and Hedges Cup medal. Victory was all the sweeter for Manchester Storm’s new defenceman from Glasgow as it came against London Knights, the side who released him only weeks ago. In between, Campbell made his Great Britain debut, improving his impressive CV which also includes a title win with Sheffield Steelers.

Campbell was left nursing his battered body after the final which went to a penalties after the teams could not be separated in regular time or sudden-death overtime. Storm have now set their sights on emulating the Grand Slam achievement of Ayr Eagles two seasons ago, and Campbell is determined to be in the forefront of that. The Scot knows it will take a supreme effort to collect the four domestic trophies but the man who could make that possible is Storm’s goaltender Frank Pietrangelo. He saved all five of London’s efforts in the penalty shoot-out to take the cup to the north-west of England for the first time. Elsewhere, Fife Flyers underlined their British National League title credentials with a 2-1 win at leaders Peterborough Pirates, Russell Monteith slotting the winner seconds from time. Angelo Catenaro netted the winner minutes from time to claim a 4-3 victory for Edinburgh ScotRail Capitals over Paisley Pirates in the Christmas Cup.





Storms opponents in the quarter finals were the SHEFFIELD STEELERS

First leg (home) Final Score 6-6
Second leg Saturday October 9th (away)
Final score 2-3 (OT) Storm win 9-3 on aggregate

Storm opponents in the semi final of the competition were the CARDIFF DEVILS
First leg Friday 29th October (home) Final Score 4-0
Second leg Saturday 30th October (away)
Final Score 0-0 Storm win 4-0 on aggregate

And then there was the Storm vs Knights final ……