Wednesday night, the 7th of November, saw the commencement of the IIHA’s IIHL Development Division in which the Dundalk Bulls B hosted the DKIT Ravens in the very first game of the league. It has to be said that it was a great success too, with a large group of spectators attending the game in support of both teams. Both teams took the game very seriously prior to the game with all the Ravens attending the game in shirts and ties. However both teams were there to enjoy the game and play in what was most players’ first taste of a competitive hockey game. It got off to a great start with the game facing off 5 minutes later than advertised due to technical difficulties. But when it started both teams gave their all and competed right from the start.
The scoring was opened very quickly after only one minute of playing time by the Bulls B’s very own Niall “Alfie” Martin who scored a low wrist shot that Dkit Ravens goalkeeper Miceal O’Neill was unable to reach. For those who don’t know who Niall Martin is, he is one of the local kids of Dundalk who took up ice skating last December when the Ice Dome opened and hasn’t looked back since. He’s only 16 but has already had a very eventful year with the sport of ice hockey. Firstly he started off ice skating last December and he is there everyday doing his best to improve his skating abilities. His hard work has had its rewards, after learning how to skate he then started to play Ice Hockey. Having bought all his equipment before everyone else by travelling to Belfast he took to it from the start. Following getting as much ice hockey in as possible including training with some of the teams and players who are playing in the IIHL, he was then selected to represent Ireland at the IIHF’s Development Camp in Vierumaki, Finland. Just recently he was part of the Dundalk Bulls U-16 team that lost 5-0 to the Belfast Giants U-16’s. This is another milestone for Irish Ice Hockey as he is not only the youngest player on the Bulls B team but he leads their charge. He finished last night’s game with two goals and was arguably Dundalk’s best player. He scored his and his teams first goal 1 minute into the game, he added a second at 7:35 and the Bulls B had a 2-0 lead. This kid is good and is definitely one for the future.
Having gone 2-0 down early in the first period, the Ravens then scored with just 10 seconds left in the period with a goal by No. 10 Thomas Mc Donald assisted by No. 7 Andrew Guest. Andrew is another local Dundalk kid who took up the game last December and has been one of the more avid fans of the game in Ireland since that time. The teams went into the 5 minute interval with the Bulls B leading 2-1 and it stayed like that for much of the 2nd Period with both Sean Pepper for the Bulls B and O’Neill for the Ravens between the pipes, making some very important and impressive saves. The Ravens then made the break through with a fantastic individual goal by No. 77 Patrick Jarrett. He had pretty much skated an entire lap with the puck on his stick then went around the goal and finished it off with a high wrist shot that Sean Pepper was unable to do anything about. The Ravens then seemed to build momentum from there with one of their players having a breakaway and a clear opportunity to score a goal, was taking down by a back checking Bulls B player, Tom Gustafson. The referee was immediate and certain about his decision and so Michael Rogan had the responsibility of taking the very first penalty shot of the IIHL. He must have been in attendance at the recent World Championships in April as he converted the opportunity and put the puck past Sean Pepper.
From there, the Ravens scored three unanswered goals in the 3rd Period with two coming in the last five minutes of the game and the Ravens winning 6-2. All in all it was a fantastic night with both sets of players thoroughly enjoying the game and the Ravens the more ecstatic at the final having secured the first win of the IIHL Development Division. The Ravens had picked themselves as the underdogs and were probably in shock following the game, both sets of players seemed to have nothing but respect for the officials with them not arguing once with any decisions. From where I was sitting it appeared that all the players quite simply did what they were told. This is an example that many of the players taking part in the IIHL could learn from.
The next game of the IIHL Development Division takes place this Saturday with the Belfast Eagles taking on the Dublin Rams B. Face off is at 10:30 p.m. following the IIHL clash between Dublin Rams and Flyers I.H.C. which starts at 8:00 p.m. So come along and enjoy both games.