This Week 8th September
This week was the official start of the British season with the EIHL, NIHL and challenge cups getting underway but with Nottingham Panthers on CHL duty it was left to the rest to get the party started.
The new season certainly started with a bang on Friday night with the Belfast Giants starting the season with a 3-1 victory over Dundee. Dundeeâ€™s response was to release 2 players, Ziga Svete and Jan Markelj leaving the club. Fortunately for them the Stars Saturday away game in Sheffield was postponed.
Saturday was not however without incident with the most bizarre being the appearance in Cardiff of former owner Paul Ragan. On the ice the Devils though needed overtime to overcome a spirited shortbenched Hull Stingrays. The real humdinger on Saturday was the cup tie between the Braehead Clan and the Belfast Giants with the teams. The Clan looked like they would get in regulation but a late powerplay for the Giants with Stephen Murphy on bench gave the Giants the numbers to equalise. It took a long penalty shootout to find the winner but Roehl was the man for the homeside. The other result of the night saw the first shutout as the Coventry Blazeâ€™s Brian Stewart had a stellar night to help his side to a 1-0 win in Fife.
On Sunday it was Fifeâ€™s turn to head to Coventry but it was the same result with the Blaze winning 4-2 to help Marc Lefebvre get to the best possible start. The main highlight on Sunday was the Braehead Clan who went to the Hull Arena for a league match with tips of many on their side. The Clan looked comfortable in the third period with a big lead but need a last second goal to be sure of a win 8-6.
In cup action there was only a goal in both of tonights games as Sheffield won 3-2 in Cardiff and Belfast beat what could be the most improved team Edinburgh Capitals 2-1
The EPL season doesnâ€™t get underway until next weekend but there were preseason match ups. The Sheffield Steeldogs were edged in their home game on Friday night to the Manchester Phoenix but were on fine form on Sunday as they won 6-1 in Altrincham. Milton Keynes also hit the ice ahead of their return home to MK as they lost both of their games to the Peterborough Phantoms. The Bison and the Flames played out a home and home season with the games split infavour of the visitors but the other weekends home and home between the Bees and the Wildcats ending in favour of the Bees on both occasions.
The National League season in its usual slow and disjointed manor however there were a some rather unexpected results particularly in Laidler D2. On Saturday evening last seasons bottom side Blackburn Eagles over came title hopefuls Nottingham Lions 3-2 whilst the promising Widnes Wild were comprehensively beaten by last years winners Solihull Barons. On Sunday though the Widnes Wild beat the Blackburn Eagles comprehensively whilst last years runners up Deeside Dragons were undone by a late double from the Sheffield Senators. Also getting underway with the NIHL sides was the English Challenge Cup with the surprises continuing. Last seasons NIHL Moralee winners Solway Sharks that have been so commanding in that competition were beaten in successive nights but fellow Moralee hopefuls Billingham and the impressive looking Blackburn.
It may be difficult or foolish to draw conculsions from one weekend but Edinburgh, Bracknell and Blackburn could teams to watch. As such the games we have highlighted for next weekend are Hull Stingrays hosting the Edinburgh Capitals, Bracknell Bees hosting the reigning EPL champion Manchester Phoenix and the Blackburn Hawks are back in NIHL action with the visit of the Whitely Bay on Sunday.