This Week 30th November
This week was about guests and visitors. The UK welcomed some overseas friends and some visitors made a big score but the most important was a visit by Tony Hand to the Edinburgh Capitals. This week though we checked out hockey’s newest derby rivalry with Widnes Wilds trip to the Altrincham Aces and more to follow on that this week.
Described as the Gretzky of British hockey or Britain’s Great One Tony Hand returned to Edinburgh on Sunday to see his number 9 jersey raised to rafters. Despite his 16 seasons playing senior hockey at the Murrayfield rink it has taken until now for his jersey to be retired. The number 9 was retired by the Edinburgh Capitals on Sunday night in a match that featured throwback jerseys to the days of Hand’s Murrayfield racers. Neil Morris and the Manchester Phoenix were probably wishing it was on another night as Hand’s Phoenix side crashed to a 9-0 loss to the Tigers.
The game itself was also a throw back to the days when Hand started his career with the Dundee Stars coming away with an 11 – 9 victory and a new EIHL record for the highest total number goals in a game.
Friendship Four Arrives in Belfast
This weekend Belfast welcomed 4 of the top hockey schools in Boston for the Friendship Four. Colgate, Brown, UMass and Northeastern played their annual tournament in Belfast as part of the cities ties to the USA city of Boston. It was the UMass River Hawks who took the trophy and the colleges will return next year.
Bakrlik Makes Lightning Switch
Frankie Bakrlik made the switch this week from the struggling Bracknell Bees to the MK Lightning. Bakrlik has contributed on every team he has played with at the EPL level and will prove a valuable assist along side former Hull Stingrays teammates Bobby Chamberlain and Jack Watkins.
To make room for Bakrlik Lightning have released Finnish forward Marko Luomala.
Mr Manchester Hockey is Back
Mike Morin was a stalwart for the original Manchester Storm and also played a big role for the Manchester Phoenix in their debut season in 2003. After settling in Manchester he is back as the assistant coach of the Manchester Storm.
Steelers Make Changes
With the Sheffield Steelers having an up and down league campaign so far this season which has including home defeats to the Braehead Clan and the Nottingham Panthers. The Steelers swapped Mike Duco to bring in Canadian Guillaume Desbiens.
It was a weekend of mixed results for many sides but not for the Cardiff Devils. They crashed at home to the Nottingham Panthers 7-3 before loosing 4-1 to bottom side Coventry. The Blaze seem to have had a wake up call this week with a narrow last minute loss in Sheffield on Friday. Fife and Braehead had back to back meetings over the weekend with the away team coming out on top on both occasions. Dundee secured a four point weekend with an away win in Manchester followed by that 11-9 victory in Murrayfield. The Storm bounced back from that to defeat the Giants 3-1 in Belfast on Sunday night. Nottingham failed to make it a 4 point weekend as they lost 6-4 on home ice to the Steelers.
That leaves the EIHL pretty much as it was with Nottingham pulling away slightly at the top of table whilst the Steelers now lead a tight middle order. At the bottom Manchester and Coventry are still chasing Edinburgh and Fife for the playoff places.
Milton Keynes made the most of Peterborough and Basingstoke being out of action on Sunday by scooping a 4 point weekend and going back to the top of table. The Steeldogs new owners must be pleased with their investment as they picked up a 4 point weekend to move level on points with the Manchester Phoenix and clear of the Bracknell Bees who are now 7 points adrift of the playoff places.