As the dust settles on another weekend, we highlight the five things we picked out we learned from the ice hockey action we’ve just saw
1. Cardiff Devils have had a boot in the bum
Three games came and gone for the Devils and an overtime win at Guildford Flames in the Challenge Cup was the sum of their efforts.
By Sunday’s game, a 5-1 away defeat to Coventry Blaze, Andrew Lord didn’t miss in his post match reaction by claiming that this performance was ‘unacceptable.’
Hot on the heels of a frustrating 6-2 home loss to Glasgow Clan on Saturday, it’s given the Devils something of a wake up call and Lord will leave no stone unturned to get to the bottom of it.
With Coventry coming to Wales on Saturday then a tricky trip to Sheffield Steelers on Sunday, Cardiff will be expected to react to what was a disappointing weekend.
2. Alex Leclerc could be Omar Pacha’s diamond
After a weekend that saw him make 105 saves, Dundee Stars netminder Alex Leclerc could be the latest star netminder that could make their name in the Elite League.
We’ve seen many come to these shores and earn themselves big moves elsewhere, like former Stars goalies Nic Riopel and Dan Bakala before him, so anything’s possible.
But Leclerc almost singlehandedly keeping Belfast Giants at bay to help them to a 4-3 win on the road then following it up against Manchester Storm the following night, it’s an impressive statistic.
Leclerc has been getting some good press recently, so we’ll see how he develops as the season progresses on the back of this. If he does well, it will be another great piece of recruitment by coach Omar Pacha.
3. Steelers have got the firepower
If there’s one noticeable difference to this season’s Sheffield Steelers team, it’s that they have the men to get the points and the stats reflect that so far.
Of the top ten points scorers in league games alone, five of them are Steelers players, with a combined total of 35 points.
John Armstrong, Robert Dowd and Ben O’Connor have proved their worth in Sheffield in the past so they’re place shouldn’t come as a surprise.
But add to that Marc-Olivier Vallerand and Brendan Connolly, who have enjoyed good numbers in the EIHL with other clubs, it’s fair to say it’s an area they’re much stronger in.
4. Did Coventry Blaze upset the Crowders?
We were all intrigued to see how Tim Crowder would link with brother Paul at Fife and so far, the move appears to be paying off for the Flyers in these early weeks.
Seven points in his first four league games is a decent start, with four of them coming against his former club, Blaze after meeting them twice in the last couple of weeks.
Paul’s three league points have all come against Danny Stewart’s side, adding two assists, so is something we don’t know here?
Probably not, but generally speaking, if they can maintain this form through the campaign, it could be a good year for the Kirkcaldy side.
5. Steeldogs and Pirates could be game of the weekend
They fought to the very end last season and the NIHL National League table would suggest (yes, we know after a couple of games) that the Yorkshire pair could be set for another duel.
So, we’re already anticipating a top of the table clash when Jason Hewitt takes his team to take on Ben Morgan’s outfit in a game that will interest the wider audience.
Pirates won the NIHL North 1 at the expense of their rivals and after edging past Swindon Wildcats on Sunday, know they’re in for a tough night.
The winners here could be the fans as the new league gets a marquee fixture so early in its existence and we can’t wait to see how it pans out.