This Week: Sunday 3rd March

This week teams have had eyes on the championships but off ice there has been an eye on the future.

 

Friday Night Lights For Hull – The Hull Stingrays have been long suffering on the road in the Gardner Conference this season. But next season Friday nights could be all right for the Stingrays as owner Bobby McEwan is hoping switch matches to a Friday to allow players time to rest after long trips to their Scottish rivals.

 

Curse Strikes Again – Many of the Steelers faithful have perhaps long lost any hope of being EIHL champions this season but if any of them still held a hope another loss at Ice Sheffield on Saturday night perhaps extinguished those. Ice Sheffield is a smaller arena across a park from the Motorpoint where the Steelers usual play. The smaller arena is used for training sessions and playoff games for many years but the Steelers have had many important losses at the venue. Last season’s playoff defeat to the Hull Stingrays for one and earlier this season the Steelers were beaten by the Capitals. Then on Saturday night an OT goal by the Capitals condemned the Steelers to another loss.

 

British Hockey Sells Out – Just after sell out attendances in games in Guildford and Nottingham there are more games where tickets can not be come by. Manchester’s home tie with Basingstoke on Sunday filled the Ice Dome in Altrincham and next weekends Panthers – Steelers match up in the NIC is already sold out. It is great news for a sport were bums on seats are paramount to financial stability.

 

Braehead Clan – The Clan hailed the appointment of Paul Gardner as the piece that would send the team into the stretch on a wave of momentum. Now that momentum has halted to stand still. The Clan are now winless in 8 games and their participation in the playoffs may come down to winning the incredible tight Gardner Conference.

 

Cup Finals Look Set – Both the Challenge Cup and the EPL Cup have gotten their competitors. On Tuesday night the Panthers went to Belfast with a healthy lead and got another win to go through to the Challenge Cup final. It looks likely that  they will play the Sheffield Steelers as they beat the Braehead Clan in Glasgow on Wednesday 4 – 2 with the home leg to come this coming week.

In the EPL Cup the Guildford Flames will play the Slough Jets. The Flames had a nervous second leg in Manchester as the Phoenix won the game but a crucial first period goal for the Flames was enough for the Flames to win 9 – 8 on aggregate.

 

Next week there is lots to look forward too. The Challenge Cup semi final second between the Steelers and the Clan takes place on Tuesday night at the Motorpoint Point. On Wednesday watch out for a feature on the plan by the Hull Stingrays to play games on a Friday next season. Whilst next weekend is the latest edition of the Panthers – Steelers series with the Panthers just 6 games away from ending the drought for a league title.

Look out as well as title races come to ahead in the EPL with Basingstoke hosting Guildford and in NIHL South 1 as Wightlink Raiders play table-topping Chelmsford. Meanwhile in NIHL North 2 the Deeside Dragons host the Sheffield Senators in a dogfight for a promotion spot.

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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