This Week: 27th January

It has been a busy week once again with plenty of controversy on and off the ice as the Challenge Cup and EPL Cup both reached the knockout stages and EIHL head of discipline Simon Kirkham flexed his whip again.

 

Abuse of Offical – The EIHL’s head of discipline Simon Kirkham had his work cut out as a raft of players and two high profile coaches hit to social and print media to voice their anger at a couple of on ice decisions. Both Ryan Finnerty (Sheffield Steelers) and Paul Thompson (Coventry Blaze) were given fines for their comments. Both coaches commented on the decisions of the referees in their sides defeats. Sheffield lost at home to league leaders Nottingham; a loss that was a major blow to their title hopes. Coventry meanwhile lost at home to Belfast.

A teams were once again reminded about their conduct towards officials but it is not surprising that this is the case. After all there is a high level of imports from North America in the EIHL who are used to officials who are better trained and call games differently. However they all professional sportsmen and should show some professionalism.

 

Cup Week – The midweek games this week saw the start of the knockout stages for the cup competitions. With Belfast already through in the challenge cup the other 3 quarter final first legs took place. Nottingham look set to join last seasons runner ups in the semi final with a win in Fife whilst the other 2 ties are still up for grabs. The Clan will take a tied game into their home leg with Coventry whilst the Dundee Stars will have a 2 goal advantage going into the second leg in Sheffield giving them a good chance to progress.

In the EPL the first semi final first leg went the way of the Slough Jets but only by one goal.

 

GB Team Announced – There were few surprises in Tony Hand’s GB squad to travel to Latvia for the Olympic Qualification Tournament. Main surprise was the inclusion of Stephen Murphy in the 19 man squad despite currently being injured. Hand has selected former GB starter Stevie Lyle in the reserve squad along with Sheffield’s back up Geoff Woolhouse should Murphy not be able to make the trip.

Hand and Team GB will also be without the long serving David Longstaff. Longstaff who has been a stalwart of the British team for many years has called time on his international career and his leadership on and off the ice will be sorely missed but Longstaff is no longer a spring chicken and there are younger talent waiting to come through.

Braehead On the Up – After appointing Paul Gardner as new head coach the fortunes of the Clan are seemingly turning round. The Clan started the season as a team fancied by many to make a break through into the top half of the league but things hadn’t quite gone to plan. Now with Gardner on board the Clan picked up a tie in the first leg of their cup quarter final, a win at the Odyssey and at the on form Dundee. If they can continue that form they will be hard to beat for the Gardner Conference and will have Blaze and Devils looking over their shoulder for that top half finish.

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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