British Ice Hockey

Elite League preview: Clan trio “the best in the league”

Braehead Clan head into a tough-looking weekend against Nottingham Panthers and Cardiff Devils hoping their trio of prolific forwards can wreak more havoc on the Elite League.

The Glasgow outfit currently have the top three scorers in the league – Matt Beca (above), Scott Pitt and Alex Leavitt – and Hockey & Operations Director Gareth Chalmers says they are huge assets to the club.

“We’re lucky to have Matt, Scott and Alex in our line-up – all are very talented players and I believe the three best players in the league right now,” said Chalmers.

“While points don’t always tell the full story, all three have been unplayable at times this season.

“The fact that they’re one, two and three in EIHL scoring is testament to what they’re bringing to the organisation right now.”

The Panthers start the fixture as odds-on favourites in the sports betting markets after picking up 13 points from their last seven games.

That run included two hard-fought victories over big rivals Sheffield Steelers and forward Chris Lawrence is keen to keep the run of form going.

“It’s been a tough schedule, a lot of games, so it’s good that we’ve done well through this stretch,” he told the Nottingham Post.

“It’s been hectic over Christmas though and we’ve handled it well – confidence is good and we’re starting to get some wins.

“As far as momentum goes, we’ve won six out of seven, so we are winning games. It’s creating healthy competition within the team.

“Everyone wants to play and do well. We are gelling well and Willy (Jason Williams) has come in. He’s been amazing for us, so we are set up well for the rest of the year.”

Sheffield boss Paul Thompson believes his team are still firmly in the title race ahead of this weekend’s important double-header at Belfast Giants.

The Steelers are currently third in the table, ten points behind the Devils with three games in hand and Thompson is desperate to pick up two victories from their trip to Northern Ireland.

“We don’t intend to lose at all – we’ve just had six games in twelve nights, we’ve been pretty banged up and ill but we have to regroup and go there and win,” he told the Sheffield Star.

“We’ve played them three times and we need to show the character we undoubtedly have. I’ve no doubt that we have the players to catch the leaders.

“If our team is in form and fit we can do that. When we are healthy and playing with confidence we can be unbeatable at this level.

“Sometimes you can grow from adversity – we’ve had our wobble and now we can go on.”

WEEKEND FIXTURES

Saturday

Belfast Giants v Sheffield Steelers
Cardiff Devils v Coventry Blaze
Edinburgh Capitals v Dundee Stars
Manchester Storm v Fife Flyers
Nottingham Panthers v Braehead Clan

Sunday

Belfast Giants v Sheffield Steelers
Braehead Clan v Cardiff Devils
Coventry Blaze v Nottingham Panthers
Dundee Stars v Edinburgh Capitals
Fife Flyers v Manchester Storm

(Image permission: Al Goold Photo)

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