This Week 14th March
This week has been a big one both on and off the ice. There have been titles, misses and playoff bound teams as well as a new arena opening. Meanwhile I spent Sunday night at the Altrincham Ice Dome as the Manchester Storm played the Braehead Clan. 20 years I saw the original Manchester Storm for the first time against the Clan’s forerunner the Scottish Eagles. It was 5-5 tie (yes there were ties back then and 5v5 overtime too) but it took about 20 minutes for me to be hooked.
Big Night for Devils
The Cardiff Devils had an amazing night on Saturday night. The Ice Arena Wales officially opened its doors as the Cardiff Devils hosted the Belfast Giants. A 5-2 win for the Devils in front of a sold out crowd also secured the Erhardt Conference for the Devils.
GB Training Squad Announced
The GB squad for the World Championships in Croatia has been announced. The 37 man squad will be narrowed down following the play offs to the final numbers. There were not many surprises announced but there is a place for Telford goalie Thomas Murdy as is Devils back up Mike Will.
New faces include Nottingham’s Evan Mosey, Dundee’s Craig Moore, 23 year old Heilbronner Falken forward Joey Lewis after impressing in his first year in DEL2 and GB Junior assistant captain Lewis Hook from Peter Russell’s MK Lightning.
Phoenix Manchester Return Step Close
The Manchester Phoenix and owner Neil Morris released pictures this week of a site visit to what they hope will be their new rink. The Phoenix have rumoured to have signed a 5 year lease on a temporary site whilst they hope to build a permanent facility.
The Cardiff Devils may have wrapped up the Erhardt Conference on Saturday but come Sunday evening the action was at the foot of the table. The Manchester Storm needed a win to stay alive following Dundee’s wins over Edinburgh. After a heavy defeat in Braehead on Saturday the Storm lead twice at home to the Clan but it was the Clan who created the better chances and a 5v3 late in the third was decisive as they ran out 6-3 winners.
At the top Sheffield remain top of the pile with a wins over the Nottingham Panthers and the Coventry Blaze. That win on Saturday removed the Panthers from the title equation. Belfast are also no longer in the hunt leaving the last week of the season a shootout between the Devils and the Steelers. The side of this is that next season should see the Sheffield Steelers and the Cardiff Devils in the Champions Hockey League.
It was a long long time coming for the Basingstoke Bison but they have secured their first league title. With 1 week remaining the Bison needed a victory over Swindon to secure the title and come up with a 5-4 win over the Wildcats.
In the NIHL North 2 things are almost set with the Widnes Wild confirmed in 2nd place and the promotion playoff spot. Blackburn Eagles also secured the final playoff spot with a win on Saturday meaning they join the Wild, Nottingham Lions and Deeside Dragons at the playoff weekend.
In NIHL South 2 East the Chelmsford Warriors were crowned champions with a win in Peterborough over their nearest rivals the Peterborough Islanders.