Five Things We Learned: Don’t Panic!

"Come on, lads! Two metres apart!" (PHOTO: Panthers Images)

It’s been a hectic few days so now that things have settled down, we’ll take you through what we picked up from the weekend just past.

1.  Don’t panic!

We’re only just into October and some fans haven’t been too happy from what they’ve seen of their clubs so far this season.

Nottingham Panthers and Manchester Storm have one win from their last six, Cardiff Devils have blown hot and cold and Fife Flyers could go out of the Challenge Cup after a pointless weekend.

The league table shows a two-point difference between second place and bottom of the table while the cup groups are also nicely open, although Group A is set to be decided.

There’s lots of hockey to be played in the coming months so there’s no point in getting wound up so early in the season.

Glasgow Clan have won their last six games and have completed three straight four-point weekends (PHOTO: Mark Ferriss)

2. Coaching is easy

Glasgow Clan sit top of the Elite League table after five straight league wins and have qualified for the Challenge Cup latter stages so life couldn’t be better for coach Zack Fitzgerald.

Since a disastrous opening weekend where they lost heavily to Dundee Stars, the Clan have built themselves back up with some good performances and plenty of goals to push them into the lofty position they’ve found themselves in.

The lines are clicking, the players have bonded and while one or two performances might not be up there, the results are coming which is all you can ask at this stage.

So it appears Fitzgerald has cracked it early on.  Well, maybe not as it’s early days but the outlook is favourable thus far.

Kevin Dufour is why of the reasons why Dundee Stars have had such a good start to the season (PHOTO: Derek Black)

3. Kevin Dufour is on fire

In a weekend where Dundee Stars clinched top spot in their Challenge Cup group, the season has gone well for them as the team assembled by Omar Pacha delivered again.

One player doing the business, other than Colton Kroeker, whose double claimed the points in Fife on Sunday is Kevin Dufour, who once more impressed in another successful couple of games.

Three goals over the weekend took him double figures in goals for the season so far and with 15 points in 12 games, is proving to be a useful player.

He’s certainly looking like a player Pacha can lean on as the Stars aim for their ultimate goal – reaching the play-offs after missing out in the last couple of seasons.

Four goals from Steeldogs’ Vladimir Luka kept them on top of the NIHL National League (PHOTO: Cerys Molloy)

4. Sheffield Steeldogs look unstoppable

The NIHL National League is only weeks old, but Sheffield Steeldogs are showing the sort of form that could make them a force as they look to become the inaugural winners.

Another four-point weekend saw them shut out Milton Keynes Lightning on Saturday then edge past Basingstoke Bison on Sunday to strengthen their position at the top of the table.

Central to that has been the early season form of Vladimir Luka, who scored four more over the two games to take his tally to eight goals and four assists so far.

Two tough encounters are coming up when they take on Peterborough Phantoms and Hull Pirates and if they come through those successfully, it could be exciting times ahead for Ben Morgan and his men.

The name Longstaff is now being known in football as well as ice hockey (PHOTO: Whitley Warriors)

5. Remember the name…

We couldn’t not mention what turned into a great week for the Longstaff family as father and sons found themselves celebrated some personal success.

GB legend David, still playing at the young age of 45, picked up the NIHL North 1 Player of the Month award with five goals in seven games for the Whitley Warriors.

Then there’s the small matter of his youngest son, Matt, scoring the winner for Newcastle United in the English Premier League against Manchester United, playing in the team alongside brother Sean.

The name Longstaff is a legendary one in ice hockey circles and if his boys flourish in top level football, you might see the name cross into another realm of folklore.

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