Elite League Takeaways: Glasgow Clan Earn Perfect Week as Fife Flyers’ Struggles Continue

Keeping up-to-date with everything happening in the Elite Ice Hockey League isn’t always easy, especially with COVID-19 wreaking havoc with the fixture list. As a result, I’m excited to share the first edition of Elite League Takeaways with you.

If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop for Elite League coverage, you’ve found it. I’ll be publishing a complete breakdown of the week’s action every Monday, identifying trends and talking points for every team in the top-flight.

The Glasgow Clan were the Elite League’s strongest performer last week, with Malcolm Cameron’s outfit securing six vital points as they continue their charge up the standings. However, it was another disappointing showing from the Fife Flyers, whose losing run leaves them languishing at the bottom of the table.

1. Sheffield Steelers

Record: 20-4-1

W: 4-2 v Nottingham (22/1)

L: 3-2 @ Dundee (23/1)

W: (3) 2-4 (9) @ Fife (19/1) – Challenge Cup

Despite falling to defeat in the final period against Dundee, the Steelers are still in a commanding position at the top of the Elite League standings and are into the final four of the Challenge Cup.

Moreover, Sunday’s game saw Sheffield awarded their first road loss of the season – meaning there’s no need to panic for anyone reading this while dressed in orange. It’s also worth remembering that Aaron Fox’s side had won each of their last nine games, a run destined to end eventually. The Steelers will be hoping to end January on a high, though; they have a three-game week coming up.

2. Cardiff Devils 

Record: 20-8-1

W: 4-1 v Belfast (22/1)

W: (8) 6-1 (5) Dundee (19/1) – Challenge Cup

The Devils are starting to roll under the stewardship of Jarrod Skalde, with their performances over the past seven days pointing to their continued improvement. Cardiff entered the week knowing they had to secure a multi-goal win to advance in the Challenge Cup; they did. They also knew that beating Belfast on home ice would help them tighten their grip on second; they did that too.

Riley Brandt, a recent arrival from USports, is still looking for his first professional point, will it come in the week ahead?

3. Belfast Giants

Record: 19-7-0

L: 3-1 @ Glasgow (19/1)

L: 4-1 @ Cardiff (22/1)

W: 1-4 @ Guildford (23/1)

After watching his side lose to the Devils, Belfast head coach Adam Keefe said: “I thought Cardiff played pretty simple, they kept us to the outside. We were very perimeter, we didn’t get inside enough, didn’t get enough traffic in front, and didn’t get enough second looks. I thought we lacked a lot of energy; it wasn’t the team I’m used to.”

It’s hard to disagree with the 37-year-old’s assessment. If the Giants are going to challenge for the league title, they need to find a way of beating the teams near them in the standings. Their next chance to do so will come on 4 February versus Cardiff. Before that, the Giants will enjoy a weekend of home comforts with a double-header versus Coventry on the horizon.

4. Nottingham Panthers

Record: 13-12-1

L: 4-2 @ Sheffield (22/1)

L: 1-2 v Glasgow (23/1)

L: (5) 3-2 (6) @ Guildford (19/1) – Challenge Cup

Mark Matheson’s honeymoon period behind the bench might just be over. Nottingham bounced back down to earth this week, losing twice in the Elite League and once in the Challenge Cup. 

However, there’s a catch. The Panthers are through to the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup and remain fourth in the regular-season standings. They’re also prolific on the power play, all of Nottingham’s goals came on the man-advantage last weekend. That said, if the Motorpoint Arena club wants to close the gap to the teams ahead of them, they’ll need to score at five-on-five, too.

5. Guildford Flames

Record: 10-14-3

W: 1-4 @ Fife (22/1)

L: 1-4 v Belfast (23/1)

W: (5) 3-2 (6) v Nottingham – (19/1) Challenge Cup

It’s difficult to interpret Guildford’s recent form. They’re 1-3-2 through their last six Elite League fixtures, losing only once by a multi-goal margin. However, Jamal Watson’s play continues to be a bright spot for the Flames, the Canadian leads EIHL defencemen in points (22) midway through the season.

6. Glasgow Clan 

Record: 10-10-2

W: 3-1 v Belfast (19/1)

W: 4-3 v Manchester (22/1)

W: 1-2 @ Nottingham (23/1)

The Clan are 5-2-0 in January, making them one of the Elite League’s most in-form teams. Head coach Cameron deserves a lot of praise for the job he’s doing behind Glasgow’s bench. Unperturbed by a chaotic start to the season, he’s built an impressive team amid difficult circumstances.

Colton Yellow Horn is a player to keep an eye on during the final week of the month, he has four points (one goal, three assists) in his last four appearances.

7. Dundee Stars 

Record: 10-13-1

W: 3-0 v Coventry (22/1)

W 3-2 v Sheffield (23/1)

L: (8) 6-1 (5) Cardiff (19/1) – Challenge Cup

Omar Pacha’s was busy last week. He made the news on Tuesday, saw his team dumped out of the Challenge Cup on Wednesday, and later enjoyed a much-needed four-point weekend. Charlie Combs put the icing on the cake for the Canadian with this lamp-lighter from the doorstep versus Sheffield:

With the teams ranked fourth to ninth in the Elite League separated by just seven points, there’s so much to play for in the second half of the season and the Stars will be hoping to stay in the mix. With four wins in their last five, they’re heading in the right direction.

8. Coventry Blaze

Record: 9-10-2

L: 3-0 @ Dundee (22/1)

W: 6-2 v Fife (23/1)

Danny Stewart and Co. were in dire need of a confidence boost and it arrived on Sunday evening. January has been tough on the Blaze, they lost David Broll to retirement and remain without the services of the injured Matthew Thompson.

But it clicked for Coventry versus the Flyers, with Ryan Penny recording the first four-goal performance of his professional career. If the Blaze add to their points tally next weekend, Stewart will be pleased – they’ve got a daunting double-header in Belfast to contend with.

9. Manchester Storm

Record: 9-16-2

L: 4-3 @ Glasgow (22/1)

Despite rallying in the final frame, Manchester’s loss to Glasgow extended their winless run to seven Elite League games. However, it was the first time the Storm fell by only a one-goal margin since 8 January – and that’s progress. 

If Ryan Finnerty’s side are to halt their slide this week, tightening up defensively will play a key role. The Storm have conceded 36 times this month, making Jason Bacashihua’s start to life as an Elite League goaltender a busy one.

10. Fife Flyers

Record: 6-18-1

L: 1-4 v Guildford (22/1)

L: 6-2 @ Coventry (23/1)

L: (3) 2-4 (9) Sheffield Steelers (19/1) – Challenge Cup

Although it’s only January, the Flyers look like long-shots to make the playoffs, with their heavy loss to Coventry leaving them seven points adrift at the bottom of the standings. 

While there’s plenty of room for improvement across the board in Fife, their penalty kill needs the most attention. At 68.66%, it’s the worst in the Elite League by a distance and shows no signs of improving. Next up? Cardiff, the EIHL’s most prolific team on the power play. Gulp.

 

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