This Week: 6th January
Now that Christmas is out of the way the business end of the season starts. Of course it has not been a quiet period for the players with both the EIHL and EPL continuing.
There were two big milestones reached in the EIHL over christmas. Ashley Tait became the first player to reach 600 league points whilst his GB teammate David Clarke hit his 300th goal. For a league that began in 2003 these milestones do perhaps show the success of British players in the league.
The Dundee Stars have had a season to remember so far. The DIA has been a fortress for them but their away form particularly in the Erdhart Conference has let them down somewhat. On Saturday they faced a Belfast side at the Odyssey that is having a stunning season and a Christmas in which they had stretched the lead at the top and beat the Nottingham Panthers. In a classic match up the Stars scored first only to find themselves down 2-1. That was before Rawlyk levelled the scores at the start of the third and Kashirsky grabbed the winner in OT.
Challenge Cup Round Up
The Challenge Cup is now in the quarterfinal stage. In a disappointing move the Giants and the Stingrays were not able to arrange a second leg for their match up and played out a single game tie in Belfast over Christmas. The Giants were the comfortable winners 6-1 and will face the winner of the Fife â€“ Cardiff quarter final. The remaining match ups start to get underway this week including the second leg of the Panthers â€“ Clan tie in which the Panthers lead 8-0.
EPL Round Up
The EPL had a lighter schedule over Christmas. Nonetheless it was a good period for the Manchester Phoenix who finished 2013 at the top of the table. That did not last as they travelled to Basingstoke to open the new year and found themselves giving up 5 goals to 2 and the top sport to the Hampshire side. Its not all dome for the Phoenix though as they do have 3 games in hand on the Bison and 4 on second placed Guildford.
Wigwam Looking Save
The Whitley Bay ice rink is this weekend looking save after fears it may be redeveloped. North Tyneside council have said that despite the area being earmarked for redevelopment the council has no plans to get rid of the ice rink or nearby football ground. It is a good result but plans may change.
Next Week Games to Watch
The EIHL game to watch next week has a top v bottom match up feel but has ramifications for the Gardiner Conference. The Clan host the Stingrays with both teams in the hunt for the Gardiner Conference title and home tie in the playoffs.
There is only one match up to look out for in the EPL and that is at the Altrincham Ice Dome. The Manchester Phoenix will be looking for revenge on the Basingstoke Bison. The Bison won the previous meeting last weekend but on their last visit to Manchester were on a 6-1 hammering.
The National League had a Christmas break is now back up and running at full strength. Our pick next weekend is from the NIHL South 1 with Solent & Gosport Devils heading to the Bracknell Hornets. Just 3 points separate the sides and the Devils come in on the back of a tie with Cardiff last week whilst the Hornets opened the year with a narrow home loss to Streatham.