January 8, 2012

EIHL and EPL Action (UK Round Up 5th – 7th January)

Lots to Talk About Across British Ice Hockey

There were plenty of talking points in British ice hockey as the run in to the play offs and league titles got underway.

The main talking point came from Kirkcaldy where the Flyers have lost 2 of their top line. Mike Hamilton has joined the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL whilst line mate Matt Siddell has left to join the Croatian side Zagreb who play in the Austrian EBEL. It is a huge blow for the Flyers who have not iced a full compliment of imports this season and comes after a festive period in which the Flyers got back to back wins for the first time. It is a major blow for the Flyers with signings hard to come by with 3 months of the season remaining and probably takes away any slim hopes the EIHL new comers had of making the playoffs.
Elsewhere there was news of a massive blow for junior ice hockey as Bristol Pitbulls announced that their rink is under threat of closure as it is due to demolished to make way for new student accommodation. The Pitbulls have teams at all ages and ice a team in the third tier English National League South Division 1. John Nike Leisure who run the rink however have announced that they are keen to continue ice sports in the city if they can get the go ahead for a new development on the outskirts of the city. That news comes on the back of protracted negotiations around Streatham ice rink that ended in their relocation last month.

There was some positive news however as Belfast Giants head coach Doug Christiansen was announced as the new assistant Great Britain coach. Christiansen who took over from Tony Hand as Edinburgh Capitals head coach in 2007 will now be behind the bench with Manchester head coach for the World Championships in April.

Elite League

On the ice the weekend got under way in the Skydome. The Sky television cameras were on hand to see the Sheffield Steelers beat the home side Blaze 4 -1 thanks in part to a 10-minute spell in the first period. Goals from Fulgham, Ramsay and Jonathan Philips set up the win but Blaze coach Paul Thompson was left rueing his powerplay again as his side went 0 for 9 and found themselves outshot 48 to 31.

On Saturday evening all eyes where on the top of the Eihl with the top three all in action. It turned out that Nottingham would be big losers as they went down 4 – 2 to the Cardiff Devils at the NIC. Steve Lyle was on inspired form for the visitors as he stopped 30 shots in total. Belfast and Sheffield meanwhile both recorded wins. The Giants dispatched the Dundee Stars with relative ease whilst Sheffield overcame a dogged display from the understrength Flyers to win 2 – 1 in Kirkcaldy.

In the nights other match up the Braehead Clan edged out 3 – 1 winners over the Hull Stingrays. That lose was the Stingrays 7th straight road defeat and although the East Yorkshire outfit have a large margin in the race for the final playoff spot they will be looking over their shoulders if their road doesn’t improve.
On Sunday the Clan and Stingrays both faced off again this time in the Hull arena. The Stingrays started the brighter taking the first period 2 – 1 but 4 goals from McPherson turned the game around. The visitors romping to a 7 – 4 victory in the end to move the Clan level on points with the Devils.

It was a home and home in Cardiff too as the Panthers looked to get their title chase back on track and with the Belfast Giants taking the night off it was all the more important to get the 2 points. After a tight first period with Benedict and Hill exchanging goals the game came to live in the third. First Beauregard broke the deadlock then in the last 2 minutes a Matt Myers brace sealed the game for the Panthers who move to within 3 point of the league leaders.

Fellow title chasers Sheffield where once again in action with their third game in 3 nights. This time the Steelers crossed the Forth Bridge to face the Edinburgh Capitals. It was another plucky home team performance but the EIHL champions showed their class taking the win 4 -3 for a 6-point weekend.
Also in Scotland the Stars returned to the Dundee Ice Arena to face the Blaze. The game started tight and it was only Jonathan Weaver’s second period goal that split the teams after 40 minutes. A nervy Coventry finally put the game to bed in the third period with Owen Fussey finally scoring a powerplay goal for the Blaze, then Robert Farmers empty netter for a 3 – 0 victory.

English Premier League

Saturday was a night of upsets in the EPL as Swindon faced the league leaders Guildford in the early face off. The Wildcats got some luck with the visitors having 2 goals disallowed as the home side ran out 6-4 winners. The Flames now have not won in 2012.

With the second place Slough Jets aware of the score line in Swindon they faced the inform Manchester Phoenix. The Jets though could not take advantage of the Flames loss as they lost 4 – 2.
Fellow title chasers Milton Keynes did however take advantage by comfortably beating the Telford Tigers. There were wins as well for Basingstoke and Sheffield Steeldogs.

On Sunday night there was another opportunity for the Lightning to close the gap on the top of the table with Guildford not in action they travelled to Bracknell. The Lightning coming out on top to edge closer to the summit.

The Slough Jets also had an opportunity to make ground as they went to Ice Sheffield. However the tough Steeldogs stalled the Jets plans winning 4 -2.

The inform Manchester Phoenix continued their excellent form as they planned on the road for the second night. In a high scoring in counter the Phoenix game out 8 – 5 winners against the Telford Tigers. Whilst in Peterborough the Bison made it a 4-point weekend with a 5 – 2 victory against the Phantoms.


Friday 6th January


Sheffield Steelers 4 Coventry Blaze 1
Saturday 7th January


Sheffield Steelers 2 Fife Flyers 1
Hull Stingrays 1 Braehead Clan 3
Cardiff Devils 2 Nottingham Panthers 4
Dundee Stars 2 Belfast Giants 6


Guildford Flames 4 Swindon Wildcats 6
Manchester Phoenix 4 Slough Jets 2
Telford Tigers 2 Milton Keynes Lightning 7
Bracknell Bees 4 Basingstoke Bison 7
Peterborough Phantoms 0 Sheffield Steeldogs 2

Sunday 8th January


Nottingham Panthers 3 Cardiff Devils 1
Sheffield Steelers Edinburgh Capitals
Braehead Clan 7 Hull Stringrays 4
Coventry Blaze Dundee Stars


Basingstoke Bison 5 Peterborough Phantoms 2
Slough Jets 2 Sheffield Steeldogs 4
Manchester Phoenix 8 Telford Tigers 5
Milton Keynes Lightning 5 Bracknell Bees 3

Neil Tucker

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