It was a different week for us to look back on this week with Winter Olympic qualifiers, a limited Elite League schedule and more drama in the NIHL National League, but there was more than enough for us to pick out our biggest takeaways.
1. We didn’t want to go to Beijing anyway
After so many heroics in recent years in the World Championships, it was always likely one wouldn’t come off and it happened on Sunday as Great Britain’s Men’s team fell at the last hurdle to end their Winter Olympic qualifying hopes.
All manner of things went wrong on Sunday. Guys not clicking, great goaltending by Hungary’s goalie and one or two somewhat dubious non-calls from the officials, but it changes nothing that this team is one to be proud of.
Plus we didn’t want to go anyway. The next round of qualifiers are in late August, round about when the CHL is in full swing so it’s a headache Pete Russell and some of the players could have done without. They’ve sidestepped that land mine for sure.
2. Team of the week? Fife
It was 14 straight defeats and a season spiralling into oblivion for Fife Flyers, but to paraphrase Al Pacino: “Just when they thought they were out, they pulled themselves back in.”
The Kirkcaldy side picked up three points out of four in a weekend that could very well have breathed new life into their play-off hopes, which looked very precarious.
Surrendering a 3-0 loss at Manchester Storm was a concern, but it was a point to add to Saturday’s huge victory over Dundee Stars. If they can start finding their form again, Stars and Storm should start worrying.
3. Beware of the Phantoms
We’ve seen Telford Tigers and Swindon Wildcats dropping points recently and now we’re not sure whether what was a two-horse race is now going to last the rest of the season.
Enter Peterborough Phantoms, in third place and closing the gap fast on the Wildcats above them to four points after Swindon won one and lost one and Tigers came away with nothing.
Phantoms are on a run of eight straight victories and who do they play a week on Saturday? Only Aaron Nell’s side, of course, making this campaign even more fascinating as the fixtures start to run out.
4. Braylon Shmyr on fire for Flames
He may have had a stop-start season after brief spells at Norfolk Admirals and Jacksonville IceMen in the ECHL, but recent Guildford Flames signing Braylon Shmyr has definitely settled well in Surrey.
The 22-year-old winger has five goals and nine points since joining Paul Dixon’s side, picking up five points this weekend alone, with three and two against Dundee and Coventry respectively.
It’s interesting to note that in his nine games for Flames, he’s only failed to register a point in three of those so it’s a move that looks a good one for Guildford’s coach heading into the final weeks.
5. Houston gives Tigers a problem
It was their second game in their brand new rink, but what a way to mark their first win on home ice for Leeds Chiefs, by nicking an overtime victory over league leaders Telford Tigers on Saturday.
Lewis Houston’s clincher is certainly one of the memorable moments of the Chiefs season and you had to feel nothing but happiness for them on the back of it.
With results elsewhere, it helped to make the NIHL National League look more and more interesting and while a play-off push might be beyond Leeds, it certainly reminds teams they can’t be underestimated.