2017 Season is Nearly Here
The new season is almost upon us so what can we expect from the season ahead.
Getting underway on Thursday night the CHL this year will feature only one British side. The Sheffield Steelers have a tough group facing Sweden’s HV71 Jonkoping and Karpat Oulu from Finland but will hope to get something from at least one of the games against German side Krefeld Penguin. Who knows though if the Steelers do well there may be a sponsorship deal with Irn Bru in honour of their jersey.
It appears logo’s are out this year with Dundee and Cardiff going for the dreaded stylised baseball lettering instead. On the ice there are high hopes for last years bottom side the Edinburgh Capitals who have bagged a Staal brother. Jared Staal signs for the Caps from the ECHL. The Belfast Giants are looking strong as they tweak there core unit and bring in son of former coach Dave Whistle goaltender Jackson Whistle. Curiously enough though the Giants are going with a 3 goaltender line with Whistle joined by Murphy and Dickson.
There are number of young brits arriving in the EIHL next season including Manchester’s Jack Prince, Dundee’s Josh Grieveson and Sheffield pair Cole Shudra and Liam Kirk. Liam Stewart, son of Rod Stewart, also arrives in the EIHL from WHL side Spokane with the Coventry Blaze.
It is a tough one to call next season with Belfast and Nottingham having a point to proof having been out of the title challenge. Braehead will be looking to challenge for the title having faulted last season. Sheffield and Cardiff will also be wanting to top the pile. At the bottom of the table eyes will be on Edinburgh given their signings and on Manchester who will have had a full summer to make their signings.
Having ended last season expecting 8 teams to line up in September it was delightful to have all ten back. Bracknell and Manchester having been saved from the brink. Manchester will start the season on the road at the often forgotten about Fylde Coast Ice Arena whilst they wait for their temporary home in the Eastlands area of Manchester to be completed.
In a change this year their will be 5 imports on the bench for each side. On the ice a lot of ice will be on the Telford Tigers. The 2015 champions suffering a bit of a hang over last season but the signing of Matty Davies will be a boost to the side. Milton Keynes will also be one to watch for their last season in the EPL before joining the EIHL in 2017. Swindon could also be a challenger with some young talent joined by the core of Nell, Hoog and Lyle.
Defending champions Basingstoke may have issues off the ice with part of the stands being condemned but on it will be a familiar feel with Tomas Hladovsky back between the pipes and Ciaran Long returning.
Hull Pirates have secured one of the signings of the summer with Jason Hewitt returning from retirement and joining Jaime Chilcott and Jonathan Kirk.
It has been a bit of a turbulent summer for the NIHL having lost two sides. The Cardiff Devils were a late drop out from the NIHL South 1 leaving that league with 9 teams. There will be 9 teams in the NIHL North 1 as well with an ice time dispute between the Sheffield Spartans and Ice Sheffield forcing the Spartans to fold.
Elsewhere Streatham will take to the ice in a new era for the club having dropped the ‘Redskins’ moniker. There is new team on the block as well. The last 2 seasons have not been easy on the island with their rink in danger of closing and storm damage but the Wightlink Buccaneers will take their place in NIHL South 2 West.