This Week 20th October

It was big week for British ice hockey as the prodigal son returned, the Giants entered Europe and a Scottish side went to the top of the EIHL.


O’Connor Returns

Great Britain defenseman Ben O’Connor this weekend signed for the Sheffield Steelers as short cover. O’Connor whose dad Mike played for the Steelers and is still part of the organisation made his debut for the side in their 5-3 victory over Cardiff.


O’Connor, who was released by Kazakh side Arlan is not expected to stay with the Steelers long after being strongly linked with several sides in Europe.


Clan hit the Summit

The Braehead Clan laid out their credantials for the title by hitting the top of the table. A win in overtime over Nottingham on Wednesday was followed up by beating Coventry on Saturday to sit at the top of the EIHL table. The big challenge for the side though will be getting victories on the road in England on a regular basis. Nonetheless though it was a marker for the side who are continuing to develop.


Belfast Giants

The Giants may have missed out on a place in the CHL but they did have their own European adventure. In Germany the Giants opened with a win over Dutch side Tilburg and followed that with a win over Bulgaria’s CSKA Sofia.


With the withdrawal of Kompanion Kyiv due to the unrest in the Ukraine there was an extra place available in the semifinal for the best placed 2nd team. Going in to the final days games on a 100% record along with the Giants were hosts Fischtown and in Group C Sanok and Romanian side Corona Brasov. In the earlier faceoff Sanok had Mike Danton to thank for their winner with 3:30 remaining. That meant if Belfast won or lost by less than 6 goals they would go through. With scores tied after two periods it was the hosts that hit the winner in front of an exuberant home crowd but it was a result that sent both through. The Giants will now head to France for the semifinal in November.


Bison Continue Fine Start

The Basingstoke Bison continued their fine start to the season. On Saturday picking up 2 points over reigning champions the Manchester Phoenix in a narrow 4-3 win. That was followed by a 5-2 away win in Sheffield to secure a 4 point weekend.


MK Return to the Thunderdome

After 12 months on the road in Coventry Milton Keynes Lightning return to the Thunderdome on Saturday following extensive renovations to the rink and arena. It was not happy return though as they went down 2-1 to the Steeldogs.


Challenge Cup Throw Back

In the week that marked the day the Manchester Storm played their last game Altrincham hosted the modern version of one the biggest attended games to be played at the Manchester Arena. The Blackburn Hawks now of the NIHL went to the Ice Dome to face the Manchester Phoenix in the first senior contest between the two clubs since 1996. Blackburn started well but were blown away by Bakrlik and Kovar going down 12-5.


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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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