Blueliner Awards 2013
The term historic can be overused these days but the 2012-13 British ice hockey season has been if not historic one of the most notable. There was the Nottingham Panthers winning the Elite League title for the first time and breaking the 1956 curse, the Guildford Flames missing out a grand slam in the playoff final, the Solway Sharks running away with the National League 1 North title only to be beaten in the playoff semi final and the Rom Valley Way ice rink closed its doors.
Then there was the national team. A season of highs and lows as the team won the second qualifying phase of the Olympics only to be relegated in the World Championships. Add to the influx of NHL stars and just a hint or two of controversy and it will be a long time before this season is forgotten.
This season we have put together the Blueliner Awards to honour the best and worst points of the 2012-13 British season.
Team of the Year â€“ There were many candidates in this category. The Nottingham Panthers are of course in there. The Panthers won the Challenge Cup, the Playoffs and their first league title since 1956. The EPLâ€™s Guildford Flames are also in the mix. The Flames retained their league title and the EPL Cup but then fell at the last hurdle in the EPL play off final. In the national league there a few candidates. The Solway Sharks had another impressive season but then lost 6-1 to the Blackburn Hawks in the playoff semi finals. The Sutton Sting also deserve a mention as they reached an impressive 3rd in NIHL 1 North in their first season.
The winner though is the Nottingham Panthers. The Panthers were dominant through out the EIHL season. Winning the league title the playoffs and the challenge cup being only the second side to do so.
Player of the Season â€“ For a player of the season it is difficult to select. Many players have been stand outs this season. Players have scored and goalies have saved. For us though it was Mac Faulkner of the Cardiff Devils. Despite only playing 45 games this season Faulkner was third in the scoring race with 35 goals in what has been a difficult season for the Cardiff Devils. There is no doubt that Mac Faulkner was a key in the Devils keeping their 5th place finish.
Never Seen Before Moment â€“ When the Nottingham Panthers hosted the Edinburgh Capitals at the NIC they were heavy favourites and the game was seemingly going to plan as the Nottingham Panthers won 10 â€“ 0. However this game was not remembered for the score line but for the Panthers goalies. For the first time in an EIHL 3 goaltenders were used. Craig Kowalski left the game after the first period and regular back up Dan Green was pulled in the third period leaving Sam Gospel who plays in goal for the National League side Nottingham Lions and as a skater for the Panthers to enter the net. It was a decision that left many scratching their heads as to the legality of it but nonetheless the result stood and the 3 goals make it a first for the EIHL.
Most Controversial Moment â€“ The addition of Simon Kirkham to the EIHL officiating team has given many debatable decisions. The head of discipline has given out his share of bans and warnings. The controversial of these was a 3 match ban for Kelsey Wilsonâ€™s baseball swing during a line change on Sheffieldâ€™s Simon Ferguson. This though is not our winner. Our winner is the Belfast Giants for their walkout and reinstatement in February. The implications from the Giants quitting one team and starting another within hours and carrying on the season will no doubt rumble on.
Most Memorable Goal â€“ There are too many goals to attempt to pick a best goal but Tony Handâ€™s goal from his own half against the Slough Jets is our pick for the most memorable Goals.