This Week 10th February
This week has been a thrilling week on the ice with semi final comebacks and heartbreaks.
Wednesday night saw action in both the Challenge Cup semi final and the EPL semifinals. The Giants held a 6 goal lead going into the second leg in Cardiff. The Devils had ground out a 3-1 lead heading into the third period. Whilst the Devils still needed to find 4 goals there was a hope amongst the Devils faithful.Â The Giants though showed what a strong side they are and 2 goals from Kevin Saurette levelled the tie on the night to win the tie 10-4.
In the EPL Cup there was action in both ties with some dramatic endings. The Guildford Flames were facing a 5 goal deficit in the second leg however with 2 minutes to go the Surrey side were well in contention. A last minute powerplay and with goalie pulled the Flames scored to make it a 10-9 aggregate deficit. An empty netter from Reynolds seconds later though ended the tie and gave the Bison a 11-9 victory.
In the other semi final the MK Lightning hosted the Manchester Phoenix in the first leg. After cancelling each other out the scores were level at 2-2 but the Phoenix hit penalty trouble and gave the Lightning a 3 goal advantage. That advantage would have been a strong lead to take to the Altrincham Ice Dome but the Phoenix had other ideas. With 3 minutes to go the fight back started and in the last minute of the tie levelled the scores at 5-5.
Giants Extend Lead
The Belfast Giants started the weekend early with a Friday win over the Hull Stingrays. A second home game on Saturday started well with a 3-1 first period lead over the Fife Flyers. The Flyers fought back but the Giants held on and boosted their title chances as results elsewhere with losses for Sheffield and Dundee gave the Giants a 22 point lead on Saturday night.
2 Cut A Drift in EPL
Whilst the Manchester Phoenix survived at the top of the EPL despite a home defeat to the Sheffield Steeldogs the bottom two failed to pick up any points. The Slough Jets lost a crucial Saturday game with 8th placed Bracknell before losing to 7th placed Swindon on Sunday. The Peterborough Phantoms had a tougher weekend as they lost on Sunday to third placed Guildford and to the inform Steeldogs on Saturday. That leaves the Jets and the Phantoms looking into the playoff places and for the first time this season the gap is bigger than 2 points. The Jets trail by 3 points and the Phantoms by 6 but both have games in hand to make up that difference.
Coventry Continue to Slip
It was not a good weekend for Matt Soderstromâ€™s team as the Blaze left the weekend without a win. The Blaze now lie in 8th place in the standings 8 points inside the playoffs. With Fife and Edinburgh both picking up points and those above them a turn around in form will be needed to ensure they donâ€™t miss out.
The EIHL next week really does get down to the nitty gritty. Back to back games in the NIC between the Belfast Giants and the Nottingham Panthers could spell the end of the hopes of the Panthers retaining the title but elsewhere the battle for playoff seeding hots up. The most interesting of the ties will be the Cardiff Devils who with temporary coach Dave Whistle have been reinvigorated. They host the Sheffield Steelers on Sunday and have games Hull and Coventry who are close to them in the standings.
The EPL it is a big weekend for the Peterborough Phantoms. The Phantoms play high flying Manchester and Guildford as the bottom side need to get points on the board to maintain a playoff push. However our pick is the semi final second leg between the Manchester Phoenix and the MK Lightning with the tie level at 5-5.