This Week: 20th January
This week we are once again at Silverblades in Widnes for their clash with local rivals Deeside and for a chat with Widnes chairman Matt Lloyd. There will be more on that later in the week.
Elsewhere it has been a busy week in British ice hockey with news of signings, Challenge Cup quarter finals coming to a close and league action as well.
The remaining Challenge Cup quarterfinals came to a conclusion this week. Cardiff heading north to Fife with a four goal lead and were confident. On Tuesday night goals from Faulkner, Kurka and Davies ended the Flyers hopes of a semifinal birth as the Devils won 3-2 in Kirkcaldy.
The remaining tie saw the Dundee Stars travel south to Sheffield for the first leg. Legue, Sirianni, Hewitt and Stefan Meyer all got on the goal list as the Steelers took a strong 4-0 lead into Sundays second leg. The Steelers again took control of the tie with Lacroix and Dowd making it a 6-0 aggregate lead. The Stars then fought back and levelled the match in the third period before DiCasmirro scored the Steelers winner and a 10-5 aggregrate win.
Those results set up a semifinal match up between the Belfast Giants and the Cardiff Devils whilst the Steelers will once again face the Panthers.
With the signing deadline well and truly on the horizon many teams have started to make moves. Most notably were the Cardiff Devils. Devils had already signed new goaltender and Polish international Kamil Kosowski and secured the services of Jaroslav Cesky on a short term deal from Manchester Phoenix before adding Slovenian defenceman Ziga Svete. The Devils had hoped Ukranian Vitali Kirichenko would also join but that deal fell through.
However the player making the biggest impact was in Coventry. Former Nottingham Panthers forward Kelsey Wilson scoring on his debut against his former club to help the Blaze to a 3-2 victory. Wilson also added an empty netter on Sunday to finalise a 3-1 win over the Devils.
Hull Take Control . . . Sort Of.
The Hull Stingrays have had a delightful start to the new year. A run of results has seen them overhaul the Coventry Blaze in the standings and this week they had their sights set on the Gardiner Conference summit. A win on Saturday over the Dundee Stars gave the Stingrays a 4 point cushion at the top of the standings. A win on Sunday would have continued a fine run but instead the East Yorkshiremen came unstuck in Braehead. The Clan coming out 3-0 winners to keep the 3 horse race for the title on.
NIHL Announce Laidler Playoff Weekend
For the first time the Laidler Conference (previous NIHL North Division 2) will have its own playoffs over the Easter Weekend (19th-21st April) at Solihull ice rink. The playoffs will feature semifinals (1v4 and 2v3) on the 19th and 20th with the final on Easter Monday (21st April).
In the EIHL we can all look forward to another M1 derby as the Panthers and Steelers clash ahead of meeting in the Challenge Cup semi final. But the Braehead Clan host the Belfast Giants in our pick. The Giants are motoring at the top of the table and a win in Glasgow could spell the end of the Clans title hopes.
In the EPL two of the leagues new year form sides meet. The Peterborough Phantoms head to the Link Centre with just 1 overtime loss in 2014 whilst Swindon beat reigning champions Guildford to remain in the Playoff places but only 4 points separate 6th placed Wildcats and 10th placed Phantoms.
In the NIHL there a 2 top ties to look forward to. On Sunday NIHL South 2 second place Oxford City Stars host third placed Chelmsford Warriors with just 3 points between the top 3 teams. The other tie to look forward to is the Blackburn Hawks trip to Scotland to face the Solway Sharks. The Hawks beat the Sharks earlier in the season but with 5 points between the 2 teams it is all to play for.