December 18, 2011

Steelers and Flames both Dodge Bullets to Make Big Gains in Title Race

UK Round UP 18th December

Sunday’s matches in both EIHL and the EPL had a common theme. All the teams that were in action were looking to make big gains in the league however that was not exactly the case.

Elite League

Sheffield Steelers 6 Fife Flyers 5 (AOT)

With both the Belfast Giants and the Nottingham Panthers not in action it was an excellent opportunity for the Steelers to make up some ground in the title race.

After a scoreless first period however it was the home side that started the scoring. Goals from Dutiaume and Hartmanis came in between a Siddell brace that stunned the defending champions into a 4 – 1 deficit at the second intermission.

It was a frantic start to the third period as Sheffield was determined not to let the game slip away. Luke Fulgham scored in the fourth minute of the period to bring the Steelers to within 2 goals but Hartmanis scored 3 seconds later to restore the lead to 3. Birnstall then netted for the visitors to cut the lead again some 15 seconds later. Fulgham’s second of the night in the eighth minute cut the gap to 1 and set up a grandstand finish in Kirkcaldy.

Jeff Legue finally found the net for the Steelers with 2 minutes to go to tie up the scores. The hometown hearts were then broken in overtime as Mark Thomas scored his second overtime winner of the season.

Fife has once again shown that they can compete with every team in the EIHL. However they will need to turn those nearly wins into points or will be left with nothing to show for it come April. Although the signing of Dan Ceman could prove to be the extra edge they need to get to that next step. Sheffield on the other hand has taken a big in road into the lead of the Belfast Giants but did it by dodge a big bullet.

Braehead Clan 7 Dundee Stars 1

The Stars returned home to Dundee for them play their first must win game under new coach Brent Hughes.

It was a tight first period that saw the Clan take a 2 – 1 advantage but which the Stars were well and truly in contention. The second by contrast was all one-way traffic. The Clan scoring through Galbraith, Walker, Jorgensen and Krestanovich to take the game by the horns and a commanding 6 -1 lead.

All that was left in the third period was for Jade Galbraith to complete his hat trick and leave the Stars just two points of the bottom.

This was a must win game for the Stars who had been showing an improvement under Brent Hughes. However this was another big defeat in a game they had a good chance of winning and leaves their playoff hopes in shatters once more.

Whilst the Clan are now in a good position to take that spot as Scotland’s number one team again.

Cardiff Devils 5 Hull Stingrays 3

The Stingrays knew that 2 points would be needed tonight to boost their playoff hopes by taking advantage of results around them.

It was the Stingrays that started well with Tendler and Osman replying after Kenton Smith had given the Devils the lead for a 2 -1 score at the first intermission. Hill’s equaliser for the Devils was than cancelled out by Tendler’s second that kept the Stingrays in charge.

But it was a third period to forget for the home team. The Devils dominated the play as MacRae, Frank and Matzka turned the game on its head.

The Devils pick up all 4 points from this weekend and will be delighted to be doing the small things right. It was disappointment for the Stingrays who miss out on the chance to create a dominating gap in the race for the final playoff spot.

Edinburgh Capitals 2 Coventry Blaze 7

Coventry returned home to the Skydome looking to give another large crowd something to cheer and that they did with a powerful display against a lacklustre Capitals outfit.

The win keeps the Blaze in forth spot in the league table whilst the Capitals slip further behind the Clan in the race to be Scotland’s number one team.

English Premier League

With the top 3 all getting big wins on Saturday night they were all looking for a repeat performance. However they were in for a big surprise. Slough who had beaten Manchester 9 – 0 on Saturday went down to a Phantoms side that is showing a big up turn in its form. Meanwhile Manchester hosted Milton Keynes at the Ice Dome and survived a come back from the Lightning to take the points and show what they are capable of on their day. This left the league leaders with the opportunity to open a bigger gap at the top against the same 

Bracknell team they had beaten 8 – 0 the night before.

The Flames however came up against a Bees team intent on revenge and need a late equaliser to force overtime. The leagues took full advantage of a second chance at the win and took it on penalties to move 4 points clear at the top of the EPL.

The EPL’s other game saw the Wildcats pick up 2 points with a dominating display against bottom side Telford.

Swindon Wildcats 8 Telford Tigers 2
Milton Keynes Lightning 2 Manchester Phoenix 4
Slough Jets 3 Peterborough Phantoms 4
Guildford Flames 4 Bracknell Bees 3 (APS)

Neil Tucker

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