This Week: 10th March
This week in British ice hockey has been one in which business has gotten done off the ice as well as on it for some clubs whilst others will have to wait to discover there fate.
Troja Target Thommo â€“ In a shock twist Swedish second tier side Troja Ljungby look set to announce Coventry Blaze head coach Paul Thompson as their new man behind the bence. Thommo has been in charge at the Blaze since before their move to Coventry and has led them to 4 elite league titles. The former GB head coach will be linking up with former Elite League player Robert Dowd at Troja in a move that every one will be look at to see if he lures other British talent to the Scandinavian country.
Champions are Crowned â€“ In only their second season in the National League the Solway Sharks have taken the North Division 1 league title back to Dumfries. An 11 â€“ 0 victory over bottom side Trafford on Saturday was enough to secure the title. The Sharks have lost just once so far this season and will be looking to make it a double when the playoffs get under way.
Replacing the Solway Sharks as the North Division 2 champions are the Nottingham Lions. A 4 point weekend from last years relegated side was enough to secure the league title and automatic promotion back to North Division 1.
Almost but not Quite – Guildford had to wait to claim their second successive EPL title. Needing a win on Saturday night against second placed Basingstoke the Flames come away empty handed. The surrey-based outfit will now have to wait till Saturday night when a win in Sheffield against the Steeldogs will be enough to lift the title.
The mathematicians where also out in force in the Elite League where Nottingham had the opportunity to take their first ever EIHL title and first league title in over 50 years if results elsewhere went their way. However a win for Belfast on Saturday night ended the possibility for at least another week. The second placed Belfast Giants will meet the Nottingham Panthers in back to back games at the Odyssey over the St Patricks day weekend next week with Panthers needing a win to lift the title.
Golf Clubs at the Ready â€“ The Sheffield Steeldogs are the latest side to be booking early tee off dates after a loss on Saturday and a Bracknell win. The Steeldogs will miss the playoffs just 12 months after reaching the EPLâ€™s final 4 weekend in Coventry.
Dundee At Risk â€“ In typical British ice hockey style there is not a summer that goes by without a crisis. Many of the times it is a clubs own doing but this time it is not. Dundee Ice Arena is now at risk over an unpaid debt to the council and unfiled accounts. Should the arena closure it would put an end to 3 senior ice hockey teams and countless junior outfits. The local council will meet Monday night to discuss the future of the arena. A petition to save the rink can be viewed here. http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/say-no-to-the-closure-of-dundee-ice-arena/signatures Great Britain has lost far too many rinks over the years and we would like to urge all hockey fans across the world to sign.
Stompinâ€™ Ovation â€“ This past week saw the passing of an unusual hockey icon. Stompinâ€™ Tom Connors may have never strapped the skates on yet his song The Good Old Hockey Game is universal recognised throughout the game. In a fitting tribute clubs across the UK paid their respects with standing renditions of the song. A fitting tribute to one of hockeyâ€™s greats.
Drugs Raises Its Head â€“ Making an unwanted come back this week was drugs and hockey players. 12 months after Jerome Tendler of the Hull Stingrays was banned for a positive test Sloughâ€™s Adam Greener was arrested by police on suspicion of drug dealing. Greener was immediately suspended by his club.
British Hockey Sells Out â€“ We have mentioned in several times in the last week but yet again there were more sell outs across the country. The Manchester Phoenix sold out their game against the Peterborough Phantoms to make 2 weeks in a row. As is now customary Saturdays Panthers â€“ Steelers match up at the NIC was sold out as was the Panthers trip to Humberside on Sunday and we would expect there to be close to sell out attendances next weekend when the Panthers go to Belfast.
Next weekend sees many ties that will decide where the trophies will go. Key on that list are the following games:
Belfast Giants â€“ Nottingham Panthers â€“ These two sides will face each other twice over the weekend. The Nottingham Panthers require a win to lift the EIHL title ahead of the Belfast Giants.
Sheffield Steeldogs â€“ Guildford Flames â€“ The Flames need 2 points to lift retain their EPL title.
NIHL North 1
Trafford Metros â€“ Coventry Blaze â€“ Anything other than a Metros win and they will be relegated. The Blaze need a point to avoid relegation and enter the relagation playoff with the NIHL North 2 runner up.
NIHL South 1
Romford Raiders â€“ Chelmsford Chieftains & Invicta Dynamos â€“ Wightlink Raiders â€“ There are 2 points between third placed Romford and table toping Chelmsford. There are 3 games remaining for Romford and Wightlink (including a match up with Chelmsford) whilst the Chieftains have 4 games left.
NIHL North 2
Sheffield Senators â€“ Deeside Dragons & Solihull Barons â€“ Nottingham Lions â€“ There is 1 point separating the Senators, Dragons, Barons and just one promotion playoff spot available all 3 teams have just 2 games remaining.
NIHL South 2
Oxford City Stars â€“ Peterborough Islandersâ€“ The Islanders have lead the charge all season but now the Stars are level on points and with games in hand as the two meet on Sunday.