Five Things We Learned: No Laakkonen of effort from Janne 

Janne Laakkonen is one of the 2019/20 team to come back for Coventry Blaze for the Elite Series (PHOTO: Scott Wiggins)

We’ve turned our calendars over and we can’t believe we’re in March, which means some shiny things are going to be handed out over the course of the next four weeks.

Another weekend is finished and we’ve had to catch our breath at the twists and turns there have been, but allow us to share our biggest takeaways from what we picked up on in the last few days.

1. No Laakkonen of effort from Janne

Coventry Blaze are on fire right now and picked up another four point weekend to claim their place in the play-offs and one player is becoming a form favourite.

Janne Laakkonen may be in his mid-30’s, but he’s enjoyed a really good run of form that has been pivotal in their excellent run of 11 wins in their last 15.

The Finn has weighed in with 23 points in that run, three goals and 20 assists and hasn’t picked up a point in only two of those games.  Right now, he’s the kind of player any other team would want on this hot streak.

Four goals and two game-winning goals. Quite the weekend for Telford Tigers’ captain Jason Silverthorn (PHOTO: Steve Brodie)

2. Silverthorn winner could be National turning point

He may be in his 40’s now, but Jason Silverthorn could have scored the goal that may well make the difference in the NIHL National League title race.

With Swindon Wildcats dropping points, Silverthorn came up with two big goals to take Telford Tiger beyond Peterborough Phantoms on Saturday then another two, including the overtime winner to defeat Sheffield Steeldogs on Sunday.

This week is another big one, with the caveat of playing Phantoms again in the NIHL North Cup thrown in, but Tigers can really strengthen their title credentials.

The Devils have closed the gap on Sheffield Steelers..and the two meet on Friday (PHOTO: Helen Brabon)

3. Steelers hanging on as Devils close

Sunday’s loss to Guildford Flames for Sheffield Steelers could well have handed momentum over to Cardiff Devils after the weekend as the teams start to race for the finish line.

We reckoned last week that Guildford could be kingmakers and that may the case on the back of the result that hands the Devils the advantage, as they sit a point behind and with three games in hand.

Stranger things have happened, of course, but it’s hard to see Cardiff not taking the title, taking into account the manner of how they lost it last year.  But, it’s not over yet, which leads us into our next item…

Is Dundee Stars hosting Glasgow Clan in the battle for the play-offs bigger than the title showdown between Sheffield and Cardiff? We just can’t decide (PHOTO: Derek Black)

4. The biggest game of the season.  But which one?

Never mind the Challenge Cup Final, which will take care of itself, but two fixtures leap out at us in the Elite League schedule and we can’t decide which one is bigger.

On one hand, you have Sheffield heading to Cardiff in a cup final rehearsal which could have big ramifications for the championship, as indicated in number three.

But you also have Glasgow Clan heading to Dundee Stars on Saturday with both teams locked in as they look to take a coveted play-off place.  We have no idea which of these games are bigger in terms of what’s at stake.

Pete Russell has taken his Freiburg team into the DEL2 play-offs after finishing third in the overall standings (PHOTO: Dean Woolley)

5. Pete readies himself for new play-off challenge

Pete Russell is enjoying some time off after his EHC Freiburg side reached the DEL2 play-offs, finishing third in the overall standings and they take on Ravensburg Towerstars, coached by former Nottingham Panthers coach Rich Chernomaz in the first round in a couple of weeks.

It’s fair to say the GB coach can add another good campaign to his CV, especially in his first season abroad as he turned Freiburg from relegation haunted to DEL2 challengers this year.

In many respects, Freiburg’s gain is Glasgow Clan’s loss and if they can make a decent run at the play-off title, his stock will continue to rise even more. 

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