November 28, 2011

Nottingham Panthers Leads a Pack of Winners in UK Hockey Action

There was no action at the top of the elite league as the Sheffield Steelers were still away in Denmark with their Continental Cup campaign and their scheduled game with table toppers the Belfast Giants was therefore postponed.  Fellow contenders Nottingham were in action but in the Challenge Cup. Sheffield’s Continental Cup campaign though ended in misery as the Elite League Champions finished without a win at the bottom of the group whilst Italian side HC Asiago head to France for the final.

Challenge Cup
Nottingham Panthers 5 Coventry Blaze 5
Coventry knew that they must avoid defeat to keep any hope of qualifying for the semi finals. Whilst the Panthers knew that they were already in the next round before their final group game. If soccer can be a game of 2 halves this was a game of three periods. It was the home side who shot out of the blocks in the first period with 5 goals in the first period from 5 different scorers including twice scoring two in a minute. It was almost an exact reversal in the second as Nottingham hit back first through Corey Neilson then two minutes of wonder at the end of period brought the Panthers back into the game. Levers brace and a goal from Francis made it a one goal game at the second break. The third in stark contrast was a tight affair and the only goal in the period was from Corey Neilson who levelled the scores with just over a minute remaining. That meant that as per challenge cup rules the game ended in a tie and Coventry will have to win their remaining two games to stand any chance of qualify for the semi finals alongside the Panthers who have already qualified.

Elite League
Dundee Stars 5 Edinburgh Capitals 0
Edinburgh headed back over the Forth Bridge with two points from last night’s game against Fife and a further 2 points tonight against their Scottish rivals would boost their chances massively of making the end of season playoffs. On the hand a victory for the visitors would be needed to keep the Stars in touch with playoff pack. The bottom it was that made the going scoring quick fire 4 goals in the first period whilst limiting an uncharacteristic defence made limited any of the Capitals chances. There was no chance in that in the second period as Hutchins added to his goal in the first period. The final period did see the Capitals much improved but they could not break down the Stars and the Stars took the game 5-0 and limited the home team to only 17 shots.

Braehead Clan 3 Hull Stingrays 2
Both teams had lost the previous night to title contenders but tonight’s game was all about the maintaining their pushes for ranked places come April. It was a close contest throughout but it was the Clan that made the most of the early chances taking the lead in the first period through Bayrack. That goal was cancelled out by Silverthorn’s goal in the second but a late goal by MacPherson kept the away side ahead at the second intermission. That lead was doubled in the third by Galbraith but not for long as Osman kept the Stingrays in the game but it was not enough for the Hull team that suffered their second loss of the weekend.

Fife Flyers 1 Cardiff Devils 5
It was a match up that echoed days of old on paper as the Flyers travelled to the south of Wales. Cardiff had picked up a valuable 4 points last weekend but missed out in midweek to a struggling Hull side and knew that whilst Fife maybe be struggling they are more than capable of causing an upset if they are not taken seriously.
Cardiff found it tough going in the first two periods as the Flyers disciplined approach made it hard for the Devils to break them down. But goals from Pierce and MacRae did give the Devils a lead through two. The third saw the game open up as Fife got back in the game through Cohen then the Devils took over with goals from Birbraer, Pierce and Matzka to secure the win continue their push towards the top four.

Premier League
With the top two both in action both Slough and Guildford knew only a win would do. Slough went up to Altrincham to face a resurgent Manchester side which had been playing much better of late. On the other hand Guildford were facing a Swindon side that had pushed them all the way the weekend before. In Manchester it was Slough who put last weekend’s loses behind them and showed the rollercoastering Phoenix why they are at the top. The Jets taking a 5 goal lead before the Phoenix found their feet and hit the night three times in the third.

Meanwhile in Guildford, the Flames were matching the Jets by also taking a 5 goal lead against the Wildcats running out 6-2 winners in the end and remaining in top spot by virtue of their better head to head record with the Jets.

Elsewhere Peterborough’s woes continued with another home lose at the hands of the Lightning who continued their good run of form.  But the Phantoms remain of the bottom as the Telford Tigers could not hold off against the Steeldogs.  In the nights other game the Bison left the weekend without any points as they travelled to Berkshire to face the Bracknell Bees. The Bees showing they are not the pushovers they may have been last seen by winning 3-1.

Slough Jets 5 Manchester Phoenix 3
Swindon Wildcats 2 Guildford Flames 6
Milton Keynes 4 Peterborough Phantoms 2
Sheffield Steeldogs 6 Telford Tigers 4
Basingstoke Bison 1 Bracknell Bees 3

Neil Tucker

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