This Week 4th January
This week we wish you all a happy new year from the Altrincham Ice Dome where the Manchester Storm host the old enemy Sheffield Steelers.
New Years Throwback
When the Manchester Storm announced its “Throwback” games its unlikely they envisioned quite the throwback that New Years Day in Altrincham was. The newly reformed Storm took on the old enemy the Sheffield Steelers in a rematch of the biggest game in the ISL era of British ice hockey complete with throwback jerseys to the all black big logo jersey of the heyday of the Storm.
The venue may have been different and the 2000 or so in attendance a far cry from the 17000 of that once famous night at the arena but the verifiers crowd, tight feisty game and the desire to win where all on show. It is a credit to the new Storm organisation to have achieved the sell out and have put together a team that short benched ran one the most established top flight teams in the country so close and could perhaps should have come away with more than a point.
The Christmas period saw some signings with Jamie Chilcott making the switch back to his native Hull signing for the pirates from the Manchester Storm. Matt Towalski made the switch to the Basingstoke Bison from the Bracknell Bees. Czech forward Martin Baranek signed for the Manchester Phoenix and the London Racers strengthened their squad with ex Telford Forward Chris Norris.
There was another goaltending change with Braehead’s Chris Holt on the injured list Travis Fullerton comes in but was kept out of the line up at first by top display by former Solway Sharks number one Gary Russell. Nottingham’s Mika Wiikman has been out of the line up too but so far no replacement with Dan Green taking on the starting role.
Time was the Sheffield Steeldogs were famous for their toughness and often over stepping the line this christmas though the organisation took the unusual step of suspending their own player for a slash. Jack Doane was suspended by the club for 5 games for a retaliatory slash on Phoenix Micheal Satek.
Phoenix Chase on Target
Details of a target sum the Manchester Phoenix need to finish the season have not been official announced but a crowdfunding website set the amount at Â£7500 but still stating it is to help the Phoenix to finish the season and return to Manchester.
It has not been a kind festive period for the sides at the top of the table. Cardiff suffered loses to BelfastÂ and Dundee and were behind for 2 periods against Manchester. Nottingham were humbled at home to Coventry whilst splitting the derby games with Sheffield. Sheffield faired better but were too off their game somewhat trailing to Manchester 4-1 before winning in overtime and pulling away only in the third period in the return game. Sheffield struggled to a pointÂ in Edinburgh too trailing 2-0 in the first period before letting a 3-2 lead go in the third before losing on penalties.
Despite that Cardiff maintained their top spot. Belfast move to the second spot. Coventry were the biggest winners gaining a playoff spot and opening up a 3 point gap over the Capitals and Storm at the bottom of the table.
Fife take over the top spotÂ in the Gardiner Conference thanks to a shootout victory in Dundee. It is the 9th time this season the Stars have failed to win after heading to regulation.
There were fewer games in the EPL but the Basingstoke Bison cemented their place at the top of the table. Back to back shutout wins over second place Peterborough ensured them a 5 point lead at the top. Guildford held on to fourth spot thanks to an overtime win over fifth place but charging Swindon.
At the bottom Hull haveÂ lifted themselves off the foot of the table thanks to a win over Manchester in Deeside. That leaves the Phoenix with only 1 win in their last 6 and 7 points above the rising Pirates in the final playoff spot.