Ice Hockey Rewind: Manchester Storm win the 1999 Benson & Hedges Cup

On December 4th, 1999 Manchester Storm defeated the London Knights in a thrilling encounter at the Sheffield Arena to win the final trophy of the 20th century.

Mancunian Matters roll back the years to revisit Storm’s glory days and only cup final to date.

Penalty king Pietrangelo wins B&H Cup for Manchester Storm

A cult figure in Pittsburgh following ‘The Save’, Frank Pietrangelo was well on his way to legend status in Manchester after steering Storm to the 1998-99 title as league MVP. He achieved it in style in Sheffield.

With the sides all square at 3:3 following overtime, the Stanley Cup winning goaltender saved five penalties to deliver Manchester’s second trophy is 12 months.

Rick Brebant, capping off his own stellar performance, scored the winning penalty after Pierre Allard, Mike Harding and Jeff Jablonski had netted during regulation time. Marc Hussey, Robert Kenny and Claudio Scremin were on the scoresheet for the vanquished Knights.

SHOOTOUT STARS: Frank Pietrangelo (L) and Rick Brebant pose with the trophy (@Manc_Storm)

With both sides appearing in their maiden Autumn Cup final, it was the Knights – unable to impose their usual physical style owing to a depleted bench – who settled first, taking the lead inside the first two minutes. Winning a face-off in Manchester’s zone, the puck fell to Hussey on the edge of the circle and the defenceman buried the puck through the legs of an unsighted Pietrangelo.

Kurt Kleinendorst’s Manchester grew into the game and enjoyed their best spell midway through the period with London shorthanded. Kevin Hoffman and Brebant had the pick of the chances as shots rained down on the Knights’ goal but Mark Cavallin couldn’t be breached.

Five minutes later, with Storm on the penalty kill, an exposed Pietrangelo missed a poke check from a face-off and London forward Kenny, unmarked in front of goal, tucked the puck into the empty net to double their lead and leave Manchester rueing missed chances.

Unsettled by the second goal, Storm struggled for composure but managed to halve the deficit with 90 seconds of the period remaining. Pouncing on a loose puck from Hussey, Sami Wahlsten and Mike Morin combined to pick out Pierre Allard in front of goal and the France international fired a backhand shot on the turn past Cavallin to send Storm into the break on a positive note.

The Knights started the second period shorthanded (Darren Banks, roughing) and Cavallin was immediately tested by Blair Scott from close range. Camped in the London zone for much of the powerplay, Storm eventually equalised courtesy of a Harding howitzer which fizzed low and hard inside the left hand post.

Cavallin was by far the busiest of the goaltenders, fending off efforts from Kelly Askew, Brebant and Morin as the match became increasingly physical. 18 penalty minutes were awarded in the second half of the period, including 10 minutes for London’s Banks for misconduct, before the sides headed into the break with the score tied at 2:2.

The players returned to the ice much calmer and the third period started fairly evenly, the best chances falling to Kenny and Hussey who both drew saves from Pietrangelo.

In the 47th minute Kenny was called for an elbow on D-man Scott Campbell and Manchester took full advantage. With five seconds left on the powerplay David Livingston, unmarked behind the London goal, received the puck from Jeff Johnstone and picked out Jablonski who made no mistake from close range to give Storm the lead.

Knights’ head coach Chris McSorley was twice penalised by referee Andy Carson in the closing stages (delaying the game and unsportsmanlike conduct), costing his team four penalty minutes and edging Manchester ever closer to the trophy.

However, with less than a minute remaining and London desperate for an equaliser, McSorley pulled Cavallin and the goaltender had barely exited the ice before Scremin – scoring his fourth B&H Cup goal – poked the puck home to send the game into overtime.

London had the momentum heading into the overtime period and whilst both sides went close several times, the two Canadian goaltenders appeared determined to settle the final with penalties.

Jeff Hoad stepped up first for the Knights and saw his effort blocked by the body of Pietrangelo. Cavallin kept out Jeff Tomlinson with his skate before his opposite number got down smartly to deny Mark Bultje.

Shooting second for Storm, Rick Brebant broke the deadlock, shooting the puck through the five-hole to score what would be the trophy-winning penalty.

However, the drama wasn’t over yet. Cavallin made himself big to shut out Norm Krumpschmid but, having left his crease before Stormin’ Norm was in control of the puck, the referee ordered a retake which, fortunately for the goalie, was also saved.

London’s fourth penalty, taken by regulation time hero Scremin, was saved meaning that if Wahlsten scored it was all over. The Finn skated, moved, shot and struck the left hand post.

It came down to the final penalty: Greg Burke versus Frankie Pietrangelo.  Livingston sat nervously on the bench, knowing that he was next up for Storm… but he wasn’t needed. Pietrangelo stood firm, trapping the puck underneath his body to secure a first B&H Cup for Manchester by the narrowest of margins.

NUMBER 1: The squad celebrate with the trophy (@Manc_Storm)

Missing out on silverware in the B&H Cup, London Knights finished the season as BISL Playoff champions, beating Newcastle Riverkings 7:3. Manchester Storm ended the season in 3rd position, relinquishing their league crown to the Bracknell Bees, before crashing out of the playoffs in the group stages.

Full match coverage available here.

Main image courtesy of @Manc_Storm, with thanks.

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