This Week: 27th January
The build up this week has all been about the Cardiff Devils with players coming in and going. There has been action on the ice too with Belfast extending their lead in the EIHL and the EPL in action too.
Cardiff Continue Revolution
The Cardiff Devils have been most active in looking to strengthen their squad ahead of the run to the playoffs and the Challenge Cup semi finals. Added to the team Europeans Martins Gipters and Markus Rama who made their debuts on the Devils 3 game trip to Scotland. The major news for the Devils was who left the club though. The sacking of backup netminder Joe Myers sparked protests from the Devils fans throughout their game on Friday night. Myers had been with the senior Devils for 8 seasons despite working full time as well. The Devils will rotate backup goaltenders from their junior side once Phil Cook leaves at the end of the month.
The Devils however did manage to pick up all 6 points from their 3-day 3-game trip Scotland a feat not matched by many of the sides higher in the table.
The Nottingham Panthers welcomed back goaltender Craig Kowalski back to the starting line up. Kowalski had hurt his ankle back in November but returned in Saturdays controversial lose to the Sheffield Steelers. The Motorpoint Arena had advertised online that the away section was sold out despite there being plenty of availability leaving many fans without tickets and screaming fowl play by the Steelers. The Steelers went onto win the game 5-2.
Guidice Boosts Coventry
The Coventry Blaze have been under pressure in recent weeks having slipped into 7th place in the standings. Gerome Guidice came back to the Blaze line up for the match ups with the Hull Stingrays and the Sheffield Steelers. It was a big win on Saturday with 6-1 win in Hull but the Blaze conceded 6 goals in less than 21 minutes to start Sundays match. The Blaze did bring it back to 6-4 though
Big Step Forward for Phoenix
The Manchester Phoenix went into the weekends matches knowing they were making up games on Flames over the weekend. A win over Slough on Saturday opened up a 3 point gap over the reigning champions but that was extended on Sunday. Loses for the Bison and the Flames gave the Phoenix a 2 point lead at the top of table and 5 points over the Flames in third. It wasnâ€™t all plane sailing though as the Manchester outfit came from a goal behind to lead the Lighning 2-1 before being pegged back to 2-2. The game couldnâ€™t be decided in regulation overtime or the first penalties so sudden death it was. It was youngster Joe Graham with the winning shot and some great saves from Steve Fone to give the Phoenix the win.
Titans Pick Up First Point
The Telford Titans have been on the wrong end of a lot of matches this season. But finally the Titans have a 5-5 tie to cheer about. The Titans have been short staffed for much of the season but have came from behind to get their campaign off to a start with the Whitley Warriors.
It is another busy week on the ice for the teams in the EIHL. 3 midweek games are backed up with a full weekend of fixtures. Our pick though is Tuesday nights Challenge Cup semi-final first leg between Belfast and the new look Cardiff Devils. The Giants are well ahead in the league standings and on their last 2 meetings with Devils scored 15 goals. However the Devils are a new look side with hopes of silverware fading.
In the EPL Saturdayâ€™s clash between the Slough Jets and Peterborough Phantoms will be one, which neither team can afford to lose. Both teams are currently outside of the playoffs but only just. A lose in this one will put some more daylight between the loser and the playoffs.