This Week 2nd February
Perhaps it is the time of year or the fact the end of season is in sight but this week has certainly has lived up to is name as silly season. Results both on the ice and movements off it have made it a week to raise eyebrows.
First though this week Blueliner Hockey would like to offer our thoughts and condolences to the Blackburn Hawks and particular the family of General Manager Alan Amos who passed away this week after a short illness. Alan had worked with Blackhawks for a number of years and had reinvigorated the club to become a top force in the NIHL.
EIHL Blocks Premier Sport Game
The TV deal with Premier Sport has been wonderful for the EIHL and the sport in the UK with live games being shown most weeks alongside NHL, SHL and World Championship coverage. This is why the decision by the EIHL to ask Premier Sport not to show this coming Fridays fixture between the Belfast Giants and Cardiff Devils is a real head scratcher. No official word has come from the EIHL has to why it has but rumours about it being as not to influence the title race have been widespread but illogical given the games coming up on TV. It is looking like an even worse decision when Premier Sport pulled Saturdayâ€™s coverage of Fife and Cardiff according to their twitter account because of an unforeseen scheduling issue.
Panthers Claim 2 Giant Wins
As far as the title race goes it is time to come to the fore. The Nottingham Panthers had two tight home games against the Belfast Giants over the weekend and in the process picked up 4 points to 1 to take a step closer to being at the top come April. Sundays game was one of the most evenly matched there has been as both sides went 0 â€“ 8 on the powerplay and there were only 5 shots between them. The only difference was Chris Lawrenceâ€™s strike with 53 seconds remaining. That could be as important as a game winning goal as it was a point denying goal.
Saturday was not without its drama. A 3-3 tie after regulation the game went to penalties and then to even more penalties and to somes dismay Chris Lawrence not an original shooter took the winning shot but as this was after the 3 penalty shots any player is allowed to take a shot. Match referee Tom Darnell took to twitter to explain this and these thoughts on a certain fan; â€˜To the douche in block 9: 1. Lumberjack shirts went out of fashion years ago. 2. Family sport, bud, keep the wanking action to your bedroomâ€™
Those two wins for the Panthers though took them briefly to the top of the table but with a game in hand and only a point behind the Clan they are well in the hunt. The Panthers next game against the Steelers on Saturday will be huge for the title race with both sides having a potential to earn 82 points and the Clan on the road in Belfast.
Steelers Avoid Scare
2-0 up after one who would expect the Steelers to go on and win especially against the Capitals but two third period goals from Jarolin and Collins meant Baldwin had to rescue the Steelers in overtime to keep the Steelers at pace.
Coventry On the Playoff Trail
The Blaze are looking like they have finally turned a corner this season. 2 games this week produced maximum points and against 2 title contenders. Wednesday produced a penalty shot victory over Nottingham and Sunday it was overtime over the Devils. 2 results 2 wins and 8th place well within their grasp.
Huppe Back in EPL
Curtis Huppeâ€™s return to the Belfast Giants is now over and the one time star of the EIHL is back in the EPL where he started the season with Guildford. This time though Huppe has signed with MK Lightning as the team look to secure their playoff place having languished in 8th spot in the table.
There was a particular nasty injury on Sunday night in the game between Telford and Swindon. The Tigers were leading 5-0 with just over 10 minutes when Scott Mackenzie was hit hard into the boards. Mackenzie was helped off the ice whilst the game clock ran down with both teams agreeing to end the game. We wish Scott a speedy recovery.
Much Needed Wins in the EPL
The EPL this week had some much needed wins for lower ranked sides. On Saturday Peterborough showed what a strong side they are this year by taking the scalp of the Telford Tigers whilst Milton Keynes pick up a needed win over Manchester. On Sunday it was Manchesterâ€™s turn as they picked up the win on penalties over Basingstoke.