This Week 17th November
This Week the on ice action all started late with all elite league teams in action on both Saturday and Sunday. There were also Challenge Cup matches and EPL rounds.
Are the Clan a Contender?
The Braehead Clan have been a delight so far this year. They have occupied the top two places in the Elite League table for most of the year. Saturday though saw them lose in Fife a result that whilst the Clan faithful may not be happy in terms of their season could be dismissed as a one off.
Sundays result in Sheffield though will be one that raises more questions for Ryan Finnertyâ€™s team. A lose in Sheffield by 4-1 could be described as a one off but it will raise the question of whether the Clan can win at the big sides in the Erhardt Conference consistently. This is a question that will need to be answered if we are to see the Clanâ€™s name on the Elite League trophy.
For the Sheffield Steelers Sundays win over the Clan will the effect of boosting their confidence in regards to the title race. After a slower start than the Clan and the Giants Sundays win over Clan and Saturdays win in Belfast has brought the Steelers to within a point of the summit. With the Giants in Continental Cup action at the weekend we could see a new name at the top this season.
Challenge Cup Comes to a Decider
The quarter final spots for the Elite League Challenge Cup will go down to a decider in both groups. In group B Belfast and Fife will play the remaining group game with the winner coming second in the table behind Braehead. That may not be a game either side want to win with Nottingham Panthers awaiting the winner.
In group A though it is a must win game for the Hull Stingrays. The Stingrays missed out on the chance to secure their place by losing in Coventry on Saturday. A win on home ice on Sunday over the Blaze though leaves them needing a win over Cardiff in their remaining fixture to book a place in the quarterfinal for the second year running and knock out the Coventry Blaze. Again.
Due to the poor fixture organisation though we will have to wait until the 3rd January to find out.
There were two new signings this week. The Hull Stingrays brought in American forward Will Frederick whilst the Belfast Giants moved to replace injured goalie Stephen Murphy with the temporary signing of Carsen Chubak.
Phoenix Find Some Confidence
The Manchester Phoenix got back to winning ways with a Challenge Cup win over the Solway Sharks on Saturday and backed that up with a win over the Guildford Flames on Sunday. It was enough to lift the Phoenix into seventh place in the table but more importantly at this stage keeps the table tight. Whilst the Telford Tigers moved 8 points clear at the top there are only 8 points separating 4th place to bottom spot.
Later on today we are launching our competition for a special NIHL prize. You can enter on facebook now or wait for more details this afternoon.