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Action from the Final

The Story Of The 1999 Benson & Hedges Cup Victory...

Part 1 - Sheffield Arena, here we come!!!!

Manchester Storm have finally put the semi final disappointments of the past two seasons behind them by reaching the Benson & Hedges Cup final for the first time in the clubís history - the first time they have reached any major final.

The two leg victory over last seasonís playoff winners Cardiff Devils proves Kurt Kleinendorstís early season comments that this yearís squad is capable of winning the big games - something that last yearís squad seemed unable to do, despite winning the Superleague.

So, roll on December 4th at Sheffield Arena where we are just one big game away from winning the first silverware of the season - the first step to a grand slam? Who knows!!!

The convincing semi final victory over Cardiff, 4-0 at home and 0-0 at Cardiff in the second leg comes at just the right time for the team following some disappointing results in the league (two losses against Bracknell) and Europe recently. It also gave team MVP Frank Pietrangelo back to back shutouts - letís hope he can carry that form into the final in December!!

See you in Sheffield!!!!

Part 2 - Benson & Hedges Cup Final, 4th December 1999 at Sheffield Arena

Manchester Storm finally beat the big game nerves they have apparently suffered from in the last two seasons by beating current Superleague leaders, London Knights, in the Benson and Hedges Cup Final at Sheffield Arena last night.

The Stormís chances of lifting the trophy seemed slim after going two goals down to a stronger looking London side in the first period. Pierre Allard restored the Stormís fans hopes by grabbing a goal late into the first period with an excellent spin move and backhand shot. The first period ended with London taking a minor penalty so the Storm would start the 2nd on the power play.

Ex London Knight, Mike Harding, brought the scores level on the resulting power play with a huge shot from the left after being fed nicely by Darren Hurley and the Storm were well and truly back in it and more importantly, now looking the stronger team. The second period ended with the score tied at two.

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The penalty save!

Just before the midway point of the final period, the Storm were awarded a penalty for elbows. Thanks to the big screen with the live Sky feed, we all had the opportunity to view the replay of what was obviously a penalty. However, this seems to have caused some controversy with the London bench claiming that Andy Carson had given the penalty on viewing the replay on the screen, something not allowed in British hockey (yet?). Now from where we were sitting, it was clear that he actually turned his back on the screen and had his linesman stood behind him explaining what he had saw and it was this that lead to the penalty being called. Some will say as a Storm fan I am bound to say that but thatís what we saw!! Whether the linesman is allowed to call a penalty in this way or whether the ref was just checking his view of things with his fellow officials is something to be discussed at another time.

As it turned out, the penalty was an important decision as Storm fan favourite, Jeff ĎJabbaí Jablonski, scored on the power play to put the Storm up by one with about twelve minutes left to go.

Eleven minutes later and the Storm were still one up going into the final minute and it looked like they were going to win the B&H on their first visit to the final when London pulling their netminder Cavallin paid off and they scored the equaliser with just 46 seconds left on the clock. The London fans celebrated as if they had won the cup and the Storm fans (me included) were suitably devastated.

The overtime period was quite close with both teams coming quite close but neither scoring that vital goal and before we knew it, it was over - the final would be decided on a penalty shootout. And at the back of most Storm fans minds had to be the fact that we had already had two shoot-outs in the EHL this season which should work in our favour. There again, we didnít win either of those!!

Iím not sure who won the toss, Storm I think, but it was decided that the Storm would shoot second. The first London shooter skated down the ice and.....Frankie saved!!!! The Storm fans went wild!!

First Storm shooter, Jeff Tomlinson, skates down the ice, strangely lacking in speed and bangs a backhand shot against Cavallinís pads. The London fans turn to go mad!

Second London shooter......Frankie saves!!!! Storm fans go nuts again!!

Frankie & Rick

Second Storm shooter, Rick Brebant, skates down the ice and makes a move on Cavallin, forcing him back into his net and he slips the puck between his legs......Storm fans go nuts again!!!!

Frankie saves the 3rd London penalty shot and then the Stormís third shooter, Norm Krumpschmid is denied by Cavallin. However, the Storm shot has to be taken again as the London netminder had left his crease before the puck was touched - Storminí Norm is denied again!!

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Frankie once again saves the London penalty and if new boy Sami Wahlsten scores the Stormís 4th penalty shot, itís all over. He skates down, makes a move and.....hits the post!!!!

London now have to score on their 5th penalty shot and hope that Dave Livingston will miss his as the 5th shooter for Storm. Number 22 for London skates down the ice and.....Frankie saves again!!! The Storm have won the cup!!!! The Storm fans (me included again) go absolutely nuts!!!

So, after a heart rending, nerve wracking night of hockey, one of the best I have had the privilige to watch in person, the Storm come away with the silverware (should that be goldware for this trophy?!!). The on and off ice celebrations go on for a while with Frankie and Rick Brebant being the obvious heroes for the Storm but ice hockey is a team sport and if not for the efforts of the whole team, especially those playing through the pain barrier - Kris Miller deserves special mention here - then we wouldnít have been in a position to go to overtime and the resulting shootout.

Well done Storm - you did us all proud!!!!

PD - 5/12/1999 Represented on 26/07/2000