EIHL week in review

This week’s big winners are Sheffield Steelers as they won the Elite Ice Hockey League’s regular season for the second season in a row. Steelers earned 72 points throughout the campaign, two more than runners-up Cardiff Devils.

The big losers are Edinburgh Capitals who once again lost heavily in both of their games.

Last week’s results

Cardiff Devils 4-3 Belfast Giants;
Nottingham Panthers 5-0 Coventry Blaze

Belfast Giants 5-3 Fife Flyers

Manchester Storm 2-5 Cardiff Devils;
Belfast Giants 5-1 Fife Flyers;
Braehead Clan 8-1 Edinburgh Capitals;
Dundee Stars 2-1 Coventry Blaze;
Sheffield Steelers 4-3 Nottingham Panthers

Coventry Blaze 6-2 Manchester Storm;
Edinburgh Capitals 3-6 Braehead Clan;
Cardiff Devils 4-3 Nottingham Panthers;
Fife Flyers 1-3 Sheffield Steelers

On Wednesday, Cardiff made up their game in hand on Sheffield as they maintained pressure upon the Yorkshire outfit with a 4-3 victory against Belfast.

Devils matched the result in Sheffield on Saturday and left Manchester with two points and as Erhardt champions. Unfortunately, for the Welsh side, it was not enough to be crowned champions. This allowed Steelers to run out to a guard of honour in Kirkcaldy on the last day of the season. They finished in style with a 3-1 dispatching of Todd Dutiaume’s squad.

The task was clear for Braehead. Two wins and they would place third in the table heading into the post-season and in the process regain the Gardiner Conference title. Fortunately for them, they were playing an Edinburgh side which had lost 16 straight going into this week and had no hope of finishing higher than last for some time now. Ryan Finnerty’s Clan had enough to get the four points needed and just edged Flyers in the process. As an extra, they have won their last seven and hit form at the exact right time to play Fife in the playoffs that start on Saturday.

Other results

The marquee matchup on Friday lived up to its billing with an entertaining eight-goal thriller between Belfast and Fife which Giants edged 5-3. 24 hours later, Flyers failed to regroup and lost 5-1 in Northern Ireland.

Nottingham’s National Ice Centre hosted Panthers’ 5-0 drubbing of Coventry in a game which had little meaning to both sides with their playoff seedings already decided.

Dundee went into the playoffs with a three-game winning streak after a 2-1 at home against Coventry. A day later Chuck Weber’s men bounced back with a 6-2 flourish over Manchester. Blaze will have a challenge when they matchup with Sheffield in the first round of the playoffs.

You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.


EIHL week in review

Last week’s results

Coventry Blaze 6-1 Nottingham Panthers

Edinburgh Capitals 2-10 Dundee Stars;
Braehead Clan 8-3 Manchester Storm;
Cardiff Devils 5-2 Belfast Giants;
Nottingham Panthers 2-4 Sheffield Steelers

Manchester Storm 3-6 Braehead Clan;
Sheffield Steelers 6-3 Coventry Blaze;
Cardiff Devils 4-3 Belfast Giants;
Dundee Stars 13-2 Edinburgh Capitals;
Fife Flyers 1-2 Nottingham Panthers

Blaze lived up to their nickname as they won 6-1, and briefly became the form side in the Elite Ice Hockey League. Taking the mantle from the recently anointed Challenge Cup winning Nottingham Panthers. Coventry was victorious in their last five and moved up to seventh in the rankings.

A day removed from Sheffield’s 4-2 triumph at Nottingham’s National Ice Centre. They brought an end to Coventry’s good form. Paul Thompson’s team dispatched Chuck Weber’s outfit 6-3 at Motorpoint Arena. Steelers remain top of the table after their four-point weekend.

The Englishman was not the only head coach to win both of matchups over the weekend. Braehead, Cardiff, and Dundee held their ground after picking up maximum points.

Braehead Clan’s victories, home and away over Manchester has eliminated Storm from playoff contention. The Renfrew-based unit remains third, five points off the summit.

In their doubleheader, the Dundee Stars netted 23 times against the Edinburgh Capitals. In response, Riley Emmerson’s men could only score four times. Drubbings like these are the reason that they are at the bottom of the EIHL table. Marc Lefebvre will be looking behind him with Coventry in reach. Although, they have assured post-season Ice Hockey due to these results.

Cardiff had two home matches against Belfast. The first being a 5-2 victory while Giants reduced the deficit of defeat to one, a day later.

Flyers could not take advantage of Nottingham’s post cup final hangover. The Scots lost in overtime to Panthers 1-2. If Fife had beaten their opponents, they would have been one spot and a point behind Corey Neilson’s side. Alas, they remain in sixth where they will likely finish.

With just one week remaining before the post-season, here are the penultimate week’s fixtures.

This week’s fixtures

Belfast Giants v Cardiff Devils;
Nottingham Panthers v Coventry Blaze

Belfast Giants v Fife Flyers

Manchester Storm v Cardiff Devils;
Belfast Giants v Fife Flyers;
Braehead Clan v Edinburgh Capitals;
Dundee Stars v Coventry Blaze;
Sheffield Steelers v Nottingham Panthers

Coventry Blaze v Manchester Storm;
Edinburgh Capitals v Braehead Clan;
Cardiff Devils v Nottingham Panthers;
Fife Flyers v Sheffield Steelers

You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.

EIHL week in review

Last week’s results

Fife Flyers 1-4 Belfast Giants

Cardiff Devils 1-6 Nottingham Panthers

Belfast Giants 1-2 Braehead Clan;
Coventry Blaze 12-4 Edinburgh Capitals;
Sheffield Steelers 5-2 Fife Flyers

Nottingham Panthers 1-0 Cardiff Devils;
Manchester Storm 2-8 Fife Flyers;
Edinburgh Capitals 5-6 Coventry Blaze;
Dundee Stars 1-2 Braehead Clan

Belfast Giants were mounting a late challenge for the title when they beat Fife Flyers on Tuesday. It was their sixth straight league win with goals from Mike Forney, Kris Beech (2) and Mike Radja. Michael Dorr pulled one back to make it, 2-1. But, the Northern Irish outfit was just too much for them on the day.

Their title hopes stalled on Saturday as the Braehead Clan won 2-1 in Belfast. As that was happening, the league-leading Sheffield Steelers inflicted Flyers to successive defeats. It was a much-needed victory for Paul Thompson’s men. They had won and lost four of their last eight regulation matchups.

Nottingham handed Cardiff Devils their third consecutive defeat days before the Challenge Cup final. The Panthers are in form, having won seven of their previous 10 and are still in with a shot of the league title. It is an outside chance.

On Sunday – two days after Nottingham’s 6-1 drubbing of Cardiff – the sides faced off again. This time in the Sheffield Ice Arena, for the cup final. This occasion was a tight, low-scoring affair. Nottingham beat the defending holders in sudden death overtime with an Evan Mosley goal. With that, Corey Neilson’s side are this week’s big winners.

The big losers are the Edinburgh Capitals. The side bottom of the table lost both games this week and are now winless in 15. To add to Riley Emmerson’s woes. The double header with Coventry Blaze ended in an 18-9 loss on aggregate. The first contest being a 12-4 hammering at the SkyDome.

In other results. Manchester Storm fell out of the last playoff spot with an 8-2 drubbing. To make matters worse this was in front of their home support against Todd Dutiaume’s men. Omar Pacha will be confident for his team to bounce back, having won eight of their last 10.

Braehead won again on the road. This time by two goals to one in Dundee as they kept the pressure on the top two with their third straight win. Clan now sits five points from the summit.

This week’s fixtures

Coventry Blaze Nottingham Panthers

Edinburgh Capitals Dundee Stars;
Braehead Clan Manchester Storm;
Cardiff Devils Belfast Giants;
Nottingham Panthers Sheffield Steelers

Manchester Storm Braehead Clan;
Sheffield Steelers Coventry Blaze;
Cardiff Devils Belfast Giants;
Dundee Stars Edinburgh Capitals;
Fife Flyers Nottingham Panthers

You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.

Steelers survive Manchester’s storming comeback

On Wednesday, Sheffield Steelers calmed Manchester Storm’s barrage on the last playoff spot as Jeff Legue netted a late winner at the Motorpoint Arena.

The 4-3 victory maintains the pressure on league-leading Cardiff Devils. But, also puts breathing space between them and the third-placed Nottingham Panthers.

The Yorkshire men needed this result not only to halt their recent slide but to maintain the four-point gap on Nottingham. The Panthers still have two games in hand over their compatriots.

Matt Sisca tied the match at two each and brought his season goal tally to 30 with a double. After exploiting a powerplay advantage on the Steelers. But, yet the Storm hit rough terrain and saw the penalties mount up as they conceded with just 73 seconds left.

The Panthers won again as they aim to keep in touch with the top as they moved past the Braehead Clan into fourth. Nottingham beat out Coventry Blaze 2-1 at the Skydome for their first win at the venue this campaign.

Brad Moran’s goal with just over two and a half minutes left secured the victory. While Coventry failed to take the chance to solidify their position in that last playoff spot.

You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.

Devils look to molt Sheffield Steel

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.

You can follow @MichaelWood_SJ on Twitter.