This Week 7th March
This week has been dramatic on and off the ice as teams look ahead to next season and the first EIHL and EPL trophies of the year were presented.
Panthers Win in OT
It was not the most open game of hockey in Sheffield on Sunday afternoon but the Challenge Cup did offer lots of drama. The Panthers seemed to have the better of the play through regulation but couldn’t break down the Devils defence and when they did found Ben Bowns on amazing form. 0-0 through 60 minutes 20 minutes of overtime ensued and again the Panthers had more pressure but Bowns made 2 stunning saves and was rescued by the post before Evan Mosely scored the winner with 4 minutes to play. The real winner though was the EIHL and the one off format as the game was shown live on the BBC website. The first time in the EIHL era that the Challenge Cup final has been shown on free to air.
Flames Rise to Cup Victory
The EPL Cup final also took place this week with the Guildford Flames facing the Peterborough Phantoms over 2 legs. The tie was well and truly after 60 minutes through with the Flames leading the first leg 9-1. The Phantoms had the consolation of winning the second leg 5-3 but the game was far from Cup final standard. Perhaps next year the EPL and EIHL could combine their Cup Finals into one day however unlikely that will be for either side to talk to each other.
With the snow failing outside Blueliner HQ this week the first signings of the summer where being announced. The Hull Pirates have announced that former Hull Stingray and Manchester Storm D-man Jamie Chilcott will be joined by forward Nathan Salem at the club again next season. Sheffield Steelers have retained the services of Brit forward Luke Ferrara on a 2 year deal whilst Swindon have announced Aaron Nell will continue as Player-Coach next season and long time favourite Jonas Hoog will also be returning to Wiltshire.
With the Challenge Cup final on Sunday the fixture list was reduced this weekend but there were enough games for the Cardiff Devils to loose top spot to the Sheffield Steelers. The Devils 6-1 defeat in the NIC on Friday night opened the door for the Steelers who beat the Flyers on Saturday to take top spot. Just 3 points behind them now is this seasons quiet side the Belfast Giants whose win over Braehead on Saturday was their sixth in a row.
At the bottom the Coventry Blaze overtook the Manchester Storm to reclaim the final playoff spot with a big home over the Edinburgh Capitals and in the return meeting in Murrayfield.
Basingstoke remain in control of the EPL title race with 6 games remaining but Peterborough are still hanging on in their. A win on Saturday and Sunday got them over their Cup defeat and upto 7 points behind with 1 game in hand. Guildford remain in the race but at 8 points behind having played the same number of games its looks a tall order.