‘THE BOUNCE EFFECT’
It always amazes me in any sport when a coach departs and suddenly the team they’ve left find a spark somewhere that leads to some positive results.
That’s certainly been the case of Milton Keynes Lightning where we saw Doug McKay leave the club after a disappointing spell and three games later, MK have won two of them.
Without knowing any of the details of what went on there, something clearly wasn’t working there and while personal reasons were cited for McKay’s exit, you hope everything is okay with him in his life.
What was needed was something fresh. Looking at the roster, there are a talented group of players in that group capable of coming up with more than what we’ve seen.
Ryan Lannon and Tim Wallace took charge hours later for their midweek game against Glasgow Clan and the reaction from their players was incredible as they overturned the bookmakers form book thumped Clan 6-1 to end an eight-game losing run.
It was a great way to end what had been quite a day for them and no doubt one the owners would have savoured every bit as much as the fans did as well. The performance of Wallace typified that with 3+2, while Andreas Valdix weighed in with four assists. It was a huge sigh of relief.
Three days later, they were up against the same opponents again in the form of Clan and weeks after they effectively lost the game in the opening eight minutes, by shipping four in that short period, they looked very much to be a different proposition.
The 6-4 loss a few weeks yielded a few positives as they fought back to end the game a more respectable two goals behind, but Saturday’s display showed a team much grittier and dare I say, more desire.
Of course, they would have expected a reaction from Glasgow, who had narrowly lost on overtime to Sheffield Steelers the night before, but again, they showed enough to encourage the fans and grabbing two quick goals at the start of the third gave them hope of inflicting another defeat on their old coach, Pete Russell.
It wasn’t to be, but they returned home on Sunday and got another two points to lift them off the bottom as they beat Coventry Blaze 4-1, with a little help from three powerplay goals.
It’s lifted them from the bottom of the table so you can say the first stage has been completed, but the Elite League terrain can be an unforgiving one and there will be bigger tests that lie ahead.
Where do they go from here? It’s soon to say, especially as the identity of McKay’s replacement remains unknown, but it’s given them a great foundation to build from going forward.
HAMMOND’S COURAGE IN HEARTACHE TO BE ADMIRED
As I write this, I saw a couple of tweets received on the BIH account about Player of the Week when a couple of Manchester Storm fans had put forward Mike Hammond for the accolade.
I immediately dismissed it as we had the shortlist of four already decided and on the poll, until it was pointed out that Mike had lost his father on Saturday and went on to play against Guildford Flames, where he scored the winning goal in a 3-2 success for his team.
For all the goals he will or has scored in his career, there will be none bigger and the courage to overcome one of the worst things that could ever happen in his life to do that can only be admired.
It’s probably fair or even obvious to say that although the goal mattered, in terms of helping Manchester get the points, it was the last thing that mattered to Mike at that moment, but he put his own sadness aside to help get the job done.
The strength people can find in such terrible circumstances shows the character they have within them and Hammond will have everyone at the Storm family to look after him in such a dark time.
Everyone at British Ice Hockey passes on our condolences to Mike and his family following their sad news.