This Week 12th November

This week we visited the Altrincham Ice Dome as the Manchester Phoenix hosted the Sheffield Steeldogs. The two sides had met in Sheffield 8 days previously in a meeting that was more remembered for the allegations afterwards, this week though was all action on the ice.

The Phoenix started pressing hard but lapses at the back gave the Steeldogs a 2-1 advantage after the first period. A three-minute spell at the end of the second period saw a brace from Frantisek Bakrlik and markers from Wood and Psurny to give the home side a 6-2 lead. That effectively ended the game as a contest as the Phoenix took their foot of the gas to win 6-4.

It was not only action on the ice in Manchester catching the headlines this week with the Hull Stingrays taking their place in the Challenge Cup quarter finals and a series of unexpected results over the weekend.

Blaze Stung By the Rays
On Wednesday the Blaze needed to only a point to ensure their place in the Quarterfinal but their somewhat inconsistent start to season struck again. Despite the scores being level through 2 periods a third period blitz by the home side with goals through Mariani, Lauzon and an empty netter from Jerome Tendler sealed the deal for the home side.

Seven Heaven For the Giants
For unknown reasons the weekend only saw 7 Elite League fixtures. Nontheless it was an important one in the title race. The Belfast Giants were on the road in Hull and Sheffield picking up all four points whilst to move the Giants 4 points clear at the top of the table and 7 points over the third placed Sheffield Steelers. The Giants cause was particularly helped over the weekend by events in Scotland.

The depleted Nottingham Panthers were on the Forth to play back-to-back games with the Flyers and Capitals but came unstuck by 2 penalty shots. Firstly Saturday night saw the Panthers trail by 1 going into the closing minutes only to be awarded a penalty shot which was saved by the Flyers goalie. On Sunday night a 4 goal final period for the Panthers turned a deficit into a tied game and Overtime. This time it was the Panthers opponents who got the penalty shot and this time it was Jade Portwood who scored to give the Capitals their second win of the season and a memorable night for the Murrayfield faithful.

Devils Announce New Signing
Just weeks after announcing no new signings the Cardiff Devils announced that they had actually signed former Czech International winger Tomas Kurka. Kurka was a draftee of the Carolina Hurricanes in 2000 and has played all over Europe’s top leagues. Kurka made it to Wales for the weekends games but the Devils were unstuck by the Hull Stingrays which leaves the Devils once again out of the playoff places.

Weird Weekend
The upsets in the results continued all weekend and were not confined to the EIHL. Saturday night saw the Bracknell Bees return to form on home ice to beat the Basingstoke Bison on penalties. The NIHL too saw some unexpected results. The Cardiff Devils NIHL1 side pulled off a home win over the previously unbeaten Wightlink Raiders whilst in South 2 the Oxford City Stars lost their record. On Saturday night the Stars who won the division last season lost to last seasons bottom side Lee Valley before losing in Oxford to the Bristol Pitbulls on Sunday.

In the Northern half the NIHL there were some strange results too. The Blackburn Hawks had to come back from 2 – 0 to salvage a draw with the Manchester Minotaurs in the Northwest derby whilst in the Laidler Conference both table topping Deeside and last years champions Nottingham could manage draws with bottom half opponents.

The Nottingham Lions draw with the Widnes Wild does though show the newcomers have a lot to offer this season now they have a finished ice rink for games.

Farewell to Brixton
The Streatham Redskins signed of their temporary stay on temporary ice in Brixton with a 3-3 tie in the South Cup to Invicta. The Redskins will have to wait till the 24th November to return to home ice when they face the Bracknell Hornets.

Next Week
The midweek match up between the Braehead Clan and the Coventry Blaze is an intriguing affair. The Blaze have been unpredictable so far this season whilst the Clan have snuck up quietly with a 8 – 3 record and laying 4th in the table with games in hand. Next weekend sees back-to-back games between the Panthers and the Steelers but also keep an eye on the Fife Flyers who host the Belfast Giants on Sunday.

In the EPL there is only one game to talk about. The Manchester Phoenix travel to the Spectrum on Sunday to play the second placed Guildford Flames.

Our pick for next week in the NIHL is from Widnes as the Wild aim to show their performance against the Lions was no fluke. Sunday night they host the Solihull Barons. But watch out also for the Deeside Dragons clash with the Coventry Blaze.

Neil Tucker

Neil has written on ice hockey for many websites concentrating on British ice hockey mostly. Neil also covers ice hockey in other countries and organises his Blueliner Hockey Tour. A graduate of the Manchester Metropolitan University Neil turned his hand to hockey writing in 2009. As well as contributing on Blueliner Hockey Neil has contributed to Get Real Hockey and Slapshot Magasine.

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