Brython Preece Stars for Dundee: Elite League Takeaways

Brython Preece, Dundee Stars (Image: Hayley Roberts/Dean Woolley)
Brython Preece, Dundee Stars (Image: Hayley Roberts/Dean Woolley)

Such is the points difference between the Elite League’s top and bottom clubs that three teams qualified for the postseason over the last fortnight: Cardiff, Belfast, and Sheffield. However, last week was one to forget for the Steelers, who lost three straight and were tormented by Dundee Stars netminder Brython Preece.

With that in mind, here are British Ice Hockey’s Elite League Takeaways for the opening week of March…

Brython Preece Stars for Dundee versus Sheffield

Well, nobody saw this coming. Omar Pacha’s Stars put on a clinic versus the Sheffield Steelers at the weekend, securing back-to-back wins. And, perhaps most impressively, they did it without Adam Morrison, their usual starting goalie.

Instead, Preece filled the crease – and performed superbly.

“I don’t really know what to say,” the 24-year-old said following the Dundee’s second win over title-chasing Sheffield, “it was a great weekend by the boys in front of me.”

Across his two appearances versus the Steelers, Preece saved 57 of the 63 shots he faced and was twice named player of the match.

That said, the Welshman’s weekend didn’t pass without incident. On Sunday, he was caught out by a no-goal decision – which resulted in Sheffield taking the lead amid comical circumstances.

“The quicker I forget about that the better,” Preece said of Brandon Whistle’s bizarre goal on Sunday. “It happens, it’s hockey, it’s just one of those things.”

On the whole, though, he – and his Dundee teammates – had an excellent weekend and have plenty to look forwards to.

“It’s a great thing that we can build on there,” Preece said. “Every point over the next few weeks is so important and taking both games to OT [was important] for keeping the points ticking over. This weekend has really been something to build on over the next couple of weeks.”

Belfast and Sheffield Switch Places at the Top

For the avoidance of doubt, it was eventful at the Elite League’s summit last week. Here’s how the Belfast Giants and Steelers fared:

  • Fife Flyers 5-3 Sheffield Steelers
  • Sheffield Steelers 4-5 Dundee Stars (SO)
  • Dundee Stars 2-1 Sheffield Steelers (OT)
  • Belfast Giants 6-2 Guildford Flames
  • Belfast Giants 5-1 Guildford Flames
  • Guildford Flames 3-4 Belfast Giants

Following a wild set of results, the EIHL now has a new leader.

The question, then, is how the title race will unfold from here. While the Cardiff Devils aren’t out of contention, they’re seven points back of top spot and Belfast have two games in hand. As a result, the focus is on Sheffield and the Giants heading down the stretch.

“We were very happy with the two [results] at home and we knew that Guildford would come out a little bit harder and prouder at home,” Adam Keefe said after Belfast’s 4-3 win on Sunday.

“We knew that we’d have to weather the storm and I think we did a good job of that. I’m just happy [with] and proud of the guys for sticking with it right ‘till the end there.”

Adam Keefe, Belfast Giants (Image: Scott Wiggins)
Adam Keefe, Belfast Giants (Image: Scott Wiggins)

After all is said and done, Belfast’s resilience could be the difference-maker come the end of the season. The Giants struggled with injuries at various points in the season – but pulled through. Sheffield, meanwhile, are losing ground in the title race due to their health concerns.

It’s something Steelers head coach Aaron Fox is concerned about.

“Two points on the weekend just isn’t good enough for us in this situation,” he said. “We’re not in great form right now, we’re going to have to reset this week, get a little bit healthy, and find out mojo again.”

Who do Sheffield play this week? Belfast, twice. We’ll find out if the Steelers have rediscovered their mojo on Friday night.

Elsewhere in the Elite League

  • C.J. Motte secured back-to-back shutouts for the Coventry Blaze.
  • Brodie Reid (CAR) netted twice versus the Glasgow Clan; he leads the league with 28 goals this term.
  • Jacob Benson ended his five-game scoring drought in Fife’s 5-3 win over Sheffield; he scored twice.
  • Despite losing three on the spin to Belfast, Guildford remain above the playoff line thanks to the Manchester Storm’s back-to-back defeats versus the Nottingham Panthers.

Were you impressed by Brython Preece’s performances versus Sheffield? Join the conversation by tweeting @BritIceHockey.

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