Five Things We Learned: A slip too much for the champions?

Belfast picked up a point at Manchester on Saturday, but it was the only point of the weekend for them (PHOTO: Mark Ferriss)

Another breathless week of action has come to an end and we at BIH Towers are still getting our heads around what’s gone on in a week that saw some big results and even a cup handed out.

Let us enlighten you with the biggest takeaways we had from the past week.

1. A slip too much for the champions?

In a week where the top four in the Elite League were all bunched up with three points separating first to fourth, it was a chance for them to really make a case for the title.

While there’s still plenty of hockey to play, Belfast’s one point from a possible four after defeats at Manchester Storm and Sheffield Steelers while their rivals all gained more seems a bit of a setback.

Of course, we say that and it could all change after next week, but consistency and lack of a real run of victories all season has been an ongoing issue.  You can never count them out however.

Glasgow Clan’s latest defeat has left their play-off hopes in a precarious position (PHOTO: Al Goold)

2. Clan sleepwalking into play-off oblivion

Fife Flyers did their bit in beating Manchester Storm and Dundee Stars to keep Glasgow Clan in the top eight over the weekend, but on current form, that sort of luck could run out.

Zack Fitzgerald’s side’s slump in form has been alarming for everyone concerned as they drift further and further towards the bottom two as they struggle to find the spark they had much earlier in the campaign.

The talent in the team is there, but something isn’t right and unless they find that edge, it’s going to be a miserable few weeks as teams fight and scrap for every point going.

Five points from Anthony DeLuca over the weekend has helped breathe new life into Sheffield’s title charge (PHOTO: Dean Woolley)

3. DeLuca comes up with the goods

It was four straight losses which made Sheffield Steelers’ position at the top of the table a somewhat precarious one so it was great timing for Anthony DeLuca to come up with some points.

Three goals and two assists helped them to two big wins over the weekend, taking full points from Nottingham Panthers and Belfast Giants to inflict some damage on their title hopes.

Special mention to Michael Davies as well on his three-point haul, but with Cardiff still having three games in hand, the shift still slightly favours the Welsh outfit.

Callum Boyd (left) leads the celebrations after his overtime winner won Murrayfield Racers the NIHL North Cup (PHOTO: Ian Coyle)

4. Racers take another leap forward

They may have lost their grip on the SNL title after Solway Sharks completed a 100% campaign, but Murrayfield Racers collected more silverware in their second season.

Callum Boyd’s overtime winner on Sunday against Whitley Warriors ensured Tony Hand and his team were celebrating another trophy in the form of the NIHL North Cup to add to the Stuart Robertson Cup.

They’ve gone about their business really well on the ice since returning a couple of years, but would a further cross border challenge by joining the NIHL interest them?

Martins Susters scored the OT winner against Swindon Wildcats to complete a four-point weekend for Peterborough Phantoms (PHOTO: Peterborough Telegraph)

5. Phantoms still haunting the NIHL top two

We’ve talked for so long about Telford Tigers and Swindon Wildcats in the top two positions, we’re really seeing Peterborough Phantoms spying an opportunity to get between them.

Slava Koulikov’s side made it 11 straight wins in beating Sheffield Steeldogs then edging Wildcats out in overtime on Sunday, closing the gap to three points behind Swindon with a game in hand.

With Tigers winning one in their last seven, the Phantoms may be looking higher up and try to nick the title as the final few weeks look set to be nerve shredding for everyone involved.

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