This Week 24th March
This week we have been in the City of Belfast for the final weekend of the EIHL and EPL season. It was all sown up at the top of the tables but the final playoff spots were yet to be decided.
It was dubbed Super Sunday by the EIHL and that was just how it was. Of the 4 games in the schedule 3 of them affected the final placings. All 3 games seemed to have a nervy edge to them and non more so than in Coventry where the Blaze needed a point and the Devils needed 2 to be sure or a Hull loss. Neither side looked to be keen to open up and the game ended goalless. With that game overrunning the Devils knew what they needed to do. Fife came from a goal behind to win which meant that they were in. That left the Hull Stingrays who were facing the Sheffield Steelers. The â€˜Rays overcame a 2-2 tie to win out 4-2 victors. However a Cardiff win would still put the Rays out. However Michael Henrich had over ideas and his OT goal gave the Coventry Blaze a 1-0 victory putting the Cardiff Devils out of the playoffs.
Bees Make Top 8
Saturday night saw the Bracknell Bees still in search of that final point to make the playoffs. They were made to sweat for it as their trip to Coventry to face the MK Lightning went all the way to overtime before the visitors came out on top. That win set up a meeting with the Manchester Phoenix in the playoff quarterfinals. It also meant that Sundayâ€™s meeting between 8th placed Bracknell and 9th placed Peterborough was not the win takes all it promised to be. Peterborough did however end the season on a high finishing just 1 point off the playoffs with a superb run since Christmas.
The Belfast Giants completed the regular season on a high. A sell out crowd was on hand for the final game to crown an incredible season for the Irish side that saw them lose just 9 games. Before that though there was the matter of the Challenge Cup first leg. The Giants came out 5-2 winners in that leaving the Panthers with it all to do in the return leg tonight.
The playoff ties in both the EIHL and EPL are now set.
Champion Belfast Giants will face the Hull Stingrays in a repeat of the Challenge Cup quarter final. The number 2 seed in the EIHL is the Dundee Stars by virtue of their Conference win and will face the Fife Flyers in the first ever all Scottish playoff tie. It also means that for the first time there will be a Scottish side in the final 4 at the NIC. Two teams with new coaches meet in the third tie as the Sheffield Steelers face the Coventry Blaze. The final tie sees the Nottingham Panthers face the Braehead Clan.
In the EPL champions Manchester face the Bracknell Bees whilst Cup winners Basingstoke have the long trip up Sheffield for their quarterfinal. Last seasons league champions the Guildford Flames will take on in form and changed Telford Tigers. The final tie sees the Swindon Wildcats play the MK Lightning in the 4/5 match up.