January 16, 2012

UK Weekend Round Up 13th – 15th January 2012 (EIHL and EPL)

The weekend began with the annual playoff announcement from the EIHL. In a change from tradition the playoff weekend will not be contain the Under 19 England – Scotland game but fans will instead be able to go to the end of season awards on the Sunday. There was also a new price, which raised a few eyebrows.

When tickets are released on general sale on March 9th a weekend pass will be £80. That has caused a few moans of disgruntlement around the fan clubs as the price is around £35 more expensive than watching 3 regular season games.

Elite League

On the ice the action got underway on Friday night with two games. Coventry were in Belfast for back to back games with the Giants knowing a win could put them back in the title hunt. It wasn’t to be however as the Giants edged the game thanks in part to Robert Dowd’s 200th Elite League point and Adam Keefe’s empty netter for a 5-3 finish.

Cardiff were also in action as they made the longest trip in British ice hockey to play the Dundee Stars. There was large Devils contingent in attendance however as the Devil’s took control of the game early through Phil Hill and regained it in the second through MacRae and Smith for a comfortable 3 -1 victory to move above the Braehead Clan into 5th place.

Saturday’s EIHL highlight came from Braehead. The Clan’s largest ever crowd were on hand for the sides Challenge Cup semi final against Nottingham. It was to a frustrating night for the Panthers as the former favourite Jade Galbraith took charge of the game giving the clan a 3 – 2 victory and a narrow 1 goal lead going into Sunday’s match up. The game was followed by an incident involving Nottingham player coach Corey Neilsen who accidently shot a puck into the crowd after taking a slapshot following the final hooter.

The other big game was in Belfast as the Blaze and the Giants once again faced each other. It was another tight game that saw 6 goals inside 10 minutes during the first period to send the teams in even at the first intermission. The deadlock was broken in the third as Aaron Clarke beat Peter Hirsch to give the Giants the 2 points. The loss for the Blaze however sums up their season of almost but not quite and it looks like they are now out of the title race.

Cardiff made the trip down the Scottish coast to Fife to play their second game of the weekend. Goals from MacRae, Matzka and Dobben lifting them to another 2 points whilst the night’s final game was in Hull. The Stingrays though took their chances to beat the Capitals in an even battle on the ice if not on the scoreboard.

Sunday’s games saw Cardiff complete their Scottish road trip with another win. The Devils took the 2 points thanks to a Scot Matzka overtime winner. The Capitals will be pleased to get a point out this game but did go 0 for 15 on the powerplay over their 2 games this weekend.

Coventry too were playing their third game of the weekend as they arrived home to face the Hull Stingrays. A third period triple from Owen, Guthrie and Fussey proved to be the difference as the Blaze dominated the game 5 -2.

Meanwhile at the NIC the Panthers hosted the Clan in the second leg of their semi final. Despite the Clan controlling the play for large periods a first period double from Jordan Fox and a second period goal from Benoit Benedict was enough to put the Panthers through to the Challenge Cup Final. The other semi final between the Giants and Devils starts on the 4th February.

With the Giants not in action and the Panthers playing in the Cup it was the Steelers who were looking to make up some ground in the title chase. A brace from Luke Fulgham was enough to lift the Steelers above the Stars who had goaltender Chris Whitley to thank that the score was only 3 -1. That win however does move the Sheffield side 2 points behind the Nottingham Panthers but still with 6 games in hand.

English Premier League

On Saturday night the EPL top two met at Planet Ice in Milton Keynes. The Lightning had crept up the standings using their games in hand but it was the league leaders who came out top by an odd goal in 11 and extend their lead to 5 points. Elsewhere it was a night of big wins.

Slough Jets put 11 past Telford, Swindon scored 7 against Peterborough and the Steeldogs hit the Bracknell Bees for 6. Meanwhile it was a seventh straight win for the Manchester Phoenix at Basingstoke.

On Sunday it was Slough’s turn to get back in the title race as they went to the Spectrum to face the leaders Guildford. It was another tight game for the Flames but this time it was the Jets who game out on top 4 – 3.

Second place also played fourth place as the Phoenix and the Lightning squared off in Manchester. It was the hot form of the Phoenix that proved too much as they made it 8 straight wins and remain unbeaten in 2011. With that victory the defending champion moved to win 6 points of the leaders and perhaps are back in the EPL title race.

Peterborough also recorded a win against the Steeldogs to move a small step closer to the playoffs but they were not helped by Bracknell’s win.

Friday 13th January
Elite League
Coventry Blaze 3 Belfast Giants 5
Cardiff Devils 3 Dundee Stars 1

Saturday 14th January
Elite League
Coventry Blaze 3 Belfast Giants 4
Cardiff Devils 3 Fife Flyers 1
Edinburgh Capitals 0 Hull Stingrays 3

Elite League Challenge Cup
Nottingham Panthers 2 Braehead Clan 3

English Premier League
Manchester Phoenix 5 Basingstoke Bison 0
Guildford Flames 6 Milton Keynes Lightning 5
Telford Tigers 2 Slough Jets 11
Peterborough Phantoms 2 Swindon Wildcats 7
Bracknell Bees 1 Sheffield Steeldogs 6

Sunday 15th January
Elite League
Dundee Stars 1 Sheffield Steelers 3
Hull Stingrays 2 Coventry Blaze 5
Edinburgh Capitals 1 Cardiff Devils 2 (AOT)

Elite League Challenge Cup
Nottingham Panthers 3 (5) Braehead Clan 0 (3)

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

- Neil Tucker

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