This Week 16th February
This week was a week in which the end of the season was firmly on the mind. It was an exciting one as cup final places were sort and the first champion of 2015 was crowned.
Mixed Emotions as Hawks Take Title
The Blackburn Hawks are the first champions of 2015 as they are crowned the NIHL Moralee D1 winners for the first time. With Billingham all but lost to Sutton by the time the Hawks faced off on Sunday night they knew a win over Sheffield would give them the title. The Spartans were ahead after 20 minutes but a fine display in the final 40 minutes gave the Hawks a 6-2 victory and the title. It is a fitting way to cap a fantastic season for the Hawks. There were mixed emotions too with the untimely passing of long time staffer Alan Amos meaning he was not there to see the fruit of his hard work.
Clan Show Their Champion Potential
A Championship side is not best judged by its great performances but by its worse ones. And if those worse ones also produce points then you may have a champion side. Wednesday the Hull Stingrays had the number of the Braehead Clan in Renfrew. Leading the tie 59 minutes Hull looked to be the better side. However Neil Trimm had other ideas levelling the match with 38 seconds to go. The Clan eventually took win on penalties to stay ahead of the league.
Devils Back In Hunt as Giant Loses
It was a strange weekend for the EIHL with the frontrunners Braehead and Sheffield not in action on Sunday. That gave the Devils a chance to make up some lost ground. A 3 game Scottish road trip for the welsh side gave was the remedy they need to put themselves back in the picture. A penalty shot victory on Friday was followed by a shut out of the Clan in Renfrew before a rather more straightforward victory over the Stars on Sunday. That does leave the Devils 3 points behind the Clan but back in the race.
The Giants on the other hand are looking more out of it. A double header in Coventry of the weekend left the Giants without a point. Two 3-2 loses leaves the 2014 Champions in 5th place 7 points adrift. Those results and Sheffieldâ€™s win in Nottingham on Saturday leaves the title race with Sheffield and Braehead as the clear favourites but only the Devils as the only side likely to keep it a 3 way battle.
Clan Stings a Step Closer to Gardiner Title
Arguable the game of Sunday in the EIHL was not in the title race but the playoff places. Coventryâ€™s resurgence has put pressure on the others at the bottom. Hull and Fife were both feeling the pressure for the points as they met on Humberside. This time though it was the home side that grabbed the points in the last minute. It was great news for the Clan as that result means they only need to beat the Stars on Saturday to left the title.
English Challenge Cup Final Set
Manchester and Telford will meet in the final of the Challenge Cup after both sides came through the second legs of their semi finals with relative ease. Telford did not show any of the cracks of the first leg as they downed Guildford 5-2.
Manchesterâ€™s semi final had promised to be a cracker with the Phoenix tied with Swindon 3-3 but it soon became a one way battle with the Phoenix running out 10-5 winners on the night.
End of Season Jig Starts Earlier
The end of every season in the UK starts with the endless discussion about league format. This year though it has started earlier with Fife suggesting it would leave the EIHL if a Northern League with 4 imports could be found. With an article with Fife Today Ice Arena Manager Ronnie Herd hinted Dundee and Edinburgh could join them with Whitely Bay also mentioned.