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2003-2004
 

The 03-04 season took an unusual turn for the Flames in the summer of 2003 when Coach Marple made a drastic change in the usual recruiting practices. Rather than a club laden with North American foreign talent, he chose to augment a fine group of British players with import players mainly from Eastern Europe, icing 6 Slovakian players for most of the season. Aside from British Stars Rick Plant, Paul Dixon, Tony Redmond and Mark Galazzi, the Flames made a clean sweep of the organisation and invited a host of new players to try their luck with the Surrey based club. Out with the old and in with the likes of Canadian forwards Ryan Vince from the Dayton Bombers of the East Coast league, as well as Domenic Parlatore who was known for his scoring prowess in earlier seasons with the Paisley Pirates and the Hull Thunder. The other import forwards included Milos Melicherik, Rastislav Palov and Jozef Kohut. Stalward defenceman Marian Smerciak and young blue liner Peter Michnac rounded out the Flames foreign crew. Perhaps the biggest signing of the summer came in the way of British star netminder Stevie Lyle. After taking the Cardiff Devils to the FBNL playoff finals the year before, the Flames looked to the Welshman to do the same for them. The Flames rounded out the club with up and comer forward Michael Timms as well as fine British acquisitions, defenceman Neil Liddiard from the Basingstoke Bison, and the last minute addition of the smooth skating Nick Cross.

The season began on a high note for the club as they finished atop the Findus Cup table, the first competition of the season. In 12 games the Flames picked up 7 wins and 15 points to advance to the semi finals were a dramatic weekend saw the Flames oust the Bracknell Bees and advance to the cup final. In the 2 game semi final the Flames picked up a 5-1 win in Bracknell, only for the Bees to return the favour with a 5-1 win of their own in game 2, setting the table for a Nick Cross overtime goal that advanced the Flames to the final, facing off just after Christmas, where they suffered a 6-2 defeat at the hands of the Newcastle Vipers who won the Findus Cup for the 2nd consecutive season.

By this time the league season was well underway and the Findus Cup loss fell in the midst of a 4 game league losing skid, that likely prevented the club from moving on to finish first in the league table. Back in November the Flames replaced Domenic Parlatore with play making Slovak, Peter Konder, and then in the new year added a size component with the addition of 6'4" 235lb forward Scott Levins from the USA. On January 11th the Flames snapped the losing run to go on to win 16 of their final 21 league games, gaining 14 points on league leading Fife Flyers. Unfortunately for the Flames, the season ended one weekend too early with the Flames finishing on 51 points, just a single point back of the league winning Flyers, despite finishing with 24 wins compared to 23 for the Kirkcaldy club.

2 competitions down and 'always the bridesmaid' was the feeling of many in the Guildford camp. The play-offs were a new season and a chance to finish the season with a trophy. The strong finish to the league season carried over into March and the Flames did not disappoint the hometown faithful, picking up 6 wins, 2 draws and just 2 losses in the play-off round to finish first in the playoff the table with 14 points. The Flames earned a semi final spot against the Edinburgh Capitals and promptly advanced to the finals with a 10-5 aggregate win. As fate would have it, Flames rivals Bracknell Bees stunned league winners Fife Flyers in the other semi final, setting up a local derby final with the Flames travelling to Bracknell on Saturday and returning to Spectrum the following night. A powerplay goal by Paul Dixon with under 3 minutes remaining in game 1 gave the Flames a 5-4 win and a slim 1 goal aggregate lead heading to Sunday night. A jam packed Spectrum crowd got a scare in the early going as the Bees erased the Flames lead just 25 seconds into game 2 and then went on to score again for a 2-0 lead on the night and a 1 goal lead on aggregate. Feelings of ?here we go again' settled over much of Spectrum, but apparently not over the Flames bench. With just over 7 minutes remaining in the 2nd period, Jozef Kohut scored a Flames goal to make the game score 3-2, but more importantly drawing the clubs to 7-7 on aggregate. That score continued until late in the final frame when a Marian Smerciak blast beat Scott Hay in the Bees net to tie the game giving the Flames an 8-7 aggregate lead. A Milos Melicherik empty net goal secured the win allowing the Flames to hold the play-off crown for the first time in 3 seasons and a Spectrum crowd looking forward to the following September for the start of the new season.

League Table
British National League  GP  OL  PTS  GF  GA 
Fife Flyers 36  23  52  135  97 
Guildford Flames  36  24  51  136  88 
Edinburgh Capitals  36  19  13  42  143  117 
Bracknell Bees  36  16  13  39  116  103 
Newcastle Vipers  36  17  16  39  109  135 
Dundee Stars  36  14  15  35  112  140 
Hull Stingrays  36  25  15  71  142 
Cup Table
Findus Cup GP 

OL  PTS  GF  GA 
Guildford Flames* 12 15 45  33 
Newcastle Vipers*  12  14  49  39 
Bracknell Bees*  12  14  36  29 
Fife Flyers*  12  12  32  41 
Dundee Stars  12  10  28  42 
Hull Stingrays  12  10  37  39 
Edinburgh Capitals  12  28  32 

 * Qualified for Semi Finals

Semi Finals: Flames defeat Bracknell 7-6
(2 Game aggregate)

Finals: Flames defeated 6-2 by the Newcastle Vipers.
(1 Game Final)

Playoff Table
Playoffs  GP  OL  PTS  GF  GA 
Guildford Flames* 10  14 33  16 
Fife Flyers* 10  13 31  22 
Bracknell Bees*  10  11  28  25 
Edinburgh Capitals*  10  31  42 
Newcastle Vipers  10  21  31 
Dundee Stars  10  29  37 

* Qualified for Semi finals

Trophy: BNL Playoff Champions

Semi Finals: Flames defeat Edinburgh 10-5
(2 Game aggregate)

Finals: Flames defeat Bracknell 9-7
(2 Game aggregate)

Player Stats

Player GP G A PTS PIMS
Milos Melicherik 69 38 50 88 96
Ryan Vince 69 43 41 84 68
Jozef Kohut 67 36 30 66 132
Rastislav Palov 60 25 33 58 22
Paul Dixon 64 10 40 50 16
Peter Konder 50 12 37 49 74
Nick Cross 68 13 28 41 96
Marian Smerciak 66 12 29 41 66
Rick Plant 53 11 24 35 20
Neil Liddiard 69 4 22 26 136
Domenic Parlatore 19 10 14 24 60
Tony Redmond 42 5 19 24 14
Peter Michnac 61 6 17 23 94
Mark Galazzi 66 12 9 21 52
Scott Levins 22 11 5 16 54
Stan Marple 46 2 9 11 209
Andrew Hemmings 2 2 0 2 0
Michael Timms 37 2 0 2 0
Chris Wiggins 3 1 1 2 0
Ben Johnson 2 0 1 1 0
Frank Evans 4 0 1 1 4
Joe White 1 0 0 0 0
James Wiggins 2 0 0 0 0
Simon Lavis 2 0 0 0 0
Rick Skene 7 0 0 0 2
Joe Dollin 7 0 0 0 0
Stevie Lyle 67 0 0 0 18

Netminder Mins GA GAA SOG SV% SO
Stevie Lyle 4033 161 2.395 1832 91.20 5
Simon Lavis 60:00 7 7.000 42 83.30 0
Joe White 20:00 2 6.000 16 87.50 0
Joe Dollin 58:07 9 9.310 47 80.90 0

Looking Back

GUILDFORD FLAMES ICE HOCKEY CLUB
Guildford Spectrum
Parkway, Guildford
Surrey GU1 1UP

Tel: 01483 452244

Sportfact Ltd t/a Guildford Flames Ice Hockey Club registered in England number 2936656
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