This Week: Sunday 17th February

Up and down the country thoughts are turning to the league titles on offer and the playoff races. In each league there are some tight races occurring. However one race ended on Sunday night as the Paisley Pirates became the first champions of 2013 by lifting the Scottish National League title. The Pirates beat the Belfast Giants junior side at their Braehead home to win the title.

However that was just part of the news this week.

Missing Braehead Clan Defence – Paul Gardner’s reign of the Clan started strong but recently and rather unthinkably the Clan have been sucked into a fight for their playoff place.

The Clan have picked up just 1 win in the league since their 25th January victory over the Belfast Giants in Northern Ireland. A mid week win over Hull may have spared the Clan’s blushes of being out of the playoffs but Saturdays heavy defeat to the Nottingham Panthers means they are tied on points with Dundee, Fife and Edinburgh for the last 3 playoff places.

It is a loss that will likely not only lose the Clan 2 points but starting netminder Daren Machesney is likely to be in hot bother with the disciplinary committee for a rude gesture to the crowd following the Panthers 6th goal.

Steeldogs on the Edge – After last seasons trip to the playoff finals the EPL Steeldogs have struggled this time out. With 9 games left to play Andre Payette’s side need a miracle to make this seasons show. The Sheffield outfit will need to win the remaining games and require the Peterborough Phantoms to fail to pick up a point.

Panthers Edge Closer – Belfast’s weekend started on Friday night with a home game with the Coventry Blaze. Despite being firm favourites the Giants failed to get out of the blocks and went down 5 – 2. With that in mind the Panthers picked up all 4 points with wins over the Clan and the Capitals to add another 2 points to their lead at the top of the Elite League table.

The Panthers are now 4 points clear with 13 to play. Also edging closer are the EPL leaders the Guildford Flames who have 2 games in hand over the Basingstoke Bison and a 2 point lead.

It will be another busy week as the cancelled fixtures due to weather and the international break are being made up and will provide more twists in the league championships.

Neil Tucker

Neil has written on ice hockey for many websites concentrating on British ice hockey mostly. Neil also covers ice hockey in other countries and organises his Blueliner Hockey Tour. A graduate of the Manchester Metropolitan University Neil turned his hand to hockey writing in 2009. As well as contributing on Blueliner Hockey Neil has contributed to Get Real Hockey and Slapshot Magasine.

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