We’re at the end of another action packed weekend and there were many things going on up and down the country, but here are our five biggest takeaways from what was a very special couple of days in so many ways.
1. Steelers can get the job done
We’ve waited all year for a team to find their groove and Sheffield Steelers have been the team that’s found theirs as we hurtle towards the final weeks of the season.
Their overtime winner at Coventry Blaze on Sunday by Nikolai Lemtyugov was a thing of beauty, but the bigger picture is something coach Aaron Fox will look at and take great pride in.
In fact, their extra period record reads 59 wins and 29 losses, according to the Steelers TV commentator, Jonathan Fearnley, showing how good they are in overtime.
Overall, six straight wins, but in the league, 25 points out of their last 28 and maintaining a seven-point lead over Cardiff Devils, who have four games in hand. It’s certainly theirs to lose at the moment.
2. Fife’s season is slipping away
Fife’s latest weekend of woe extended their winless run to 12 and their failure to so much as lay a glove on injury-hit Glasgow Clan, a team at the end of a three-game weekend and despite the late flourish sees them seven points shy of the top eight.
It’s not a position we’re used to seeing the Flyers in and with a forum being arranged for the club’s management to address the fans, it can’t come soon enough.
Is it too late to write the campaign off? That’s a matter of opinion at this stage, but the stats don’t look good for a team with such a proud tradition and hockey heritage.
3. Swindon not out of it yet
Just when we thought Telford Tigers were turning on the style and building up a head of steam in the race for the first ever NIHL National League, they stumbled to four straight losses, three in the league and a door that was slightly ajar for Swindon Wildcats has been opened a little wider.
Seven wins from their last eight, smashing in at least four goals in every game, has pulled them to within four points of the Tigers following another four-point weekend for them.
They could get a psychological edge against Telford in the National League Cup this week before taking on out of form Bracknell Bees (see below) then Peterborough Phantoms so momentum is with Aaron Nell’s outfit.
4. Hockey is for Everyone – Fact
What a weekend for the Elite League! A Pride Weekend embraced by almost everyone and it’s fair to say, it’s a been a massive success on and off the ice.
Zach Sullivan’s statement on Sunday on social media shed even more light on the purpose of the weekend and the reaction has been amazing to someone who has always wore his heart on his sleeve.
EIHL fans have helped make this a phenomenal success and you can probably guarantee there’s already a weekend pencilled for next year for this again.
5. Bees are losing their buzz
It’s just not happening right now for Bracknell Bees as they go into February sitting second bottom of the National League following another weekend with nothing to show for their efforts.
Their run of seven losses in their last eight has them reasonably comfortable above Leeds Chiefs, but there’s a tough run of games coming up, with five against teams in the top half of the table.
Where that leaves them by the time they meet Raiders in a double header late next month is not known, but it’s going to be a tough ask for Doug Sheppard’s side as they try to get back to play-off contention.