All 10 teams will take the ice this weekend in Hockey’s Elite League as the race towards the playoffs heats up.
Last year’s runners-up, the Braehead Clan, were looking comfortable atop of the EHIL. But, they lost four of their previous five. As a result, the Cardiff Devils and the Sheffield Steelers moved above them.
Ryan Finnerty has overseen his side’s slump in which injuries have decimated his bench. The Renfrew outfit are now seven points behind first and have Nottingham catching up on them. Panthers being one point off their tally with a couple of games in hand.
With just over a month left of the season. It is a head-to-head battle between the Devils and the Steelers for the championship. The outcome may be clearer after this weekend’s double header between the pair.
Andrew Lord’s squad are four clear at the top and have hit form at the right time. Picking up eight points from a possible eight. Whereas the Yorkshire side has faltered recently. They have lost five of their previous six, three of them against Coventry Blaze.
At the opposite end of the table, there is optimising for those looking to finish in that final playoff spot.
Manchester Storm is the form team in the division with six wins in a row. Their debut season was fading into nothingness until a couple of weeks ago. Now they are just one point adrift of their West Midlands rivals. However, Chuck Weber’s unit have a few more fixtures to fulfill.
Although, as Blaze’s standing shows they are a team prone to struggling. Sunday highlighted this as they looked exhausted having once again been shutout in Kirkcaldy. Their goaltender, Brian Stewart – who is busy more nights than not – is an injury worry. With this news, it seems to be a perfect storm for the Mancunians to breeze past Coventry.
Edinburgh Capitals cannot finish higher than bottom. However, they can affect playoff seedings with their remaining fixtures.
Fife Flyers Head Coach Todd Duiaume, said on Sunday:
“It’s all about momentum.”
That drive that the Canadian talks of is something that the Fifers have in abundance. They can finish off the campaign as high as fifth and win the Gardiner Conference.
Named after Scottish netminder, Charlie Gardiner. The goalie born in Edinburgh entered the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1945.
In the northern conference, they are top. Four clear of last year’s winners Braehead. In the league, they are one behind Dundee Stars. Although, the Dundonians have completed a few extra fixtures.
Saturday pits east versus west as the Fifers travel to the Braehead Arena. A venue in which Dutiaume has coached to victory earlier in the season. Drawing on that experience will prove pivotal and will have a say in who wins the conference title.
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