Billingham Stars began the defence of their NIHL1 North title with a comfortable 6-0 win over Sheffield Spartans. Stephen Wallace (2), Mikey Elder (2), Richie Thornton (left) & Anthony Price got Stars’ goals. Blackburn Hawks took maximum points from their weekend double header with Trafford Metros with a pair of 4-3 wins. Coventry Blaze drew 2-2 with last years’ runners-up Whitley Warriors.
Deeside Dragons are the early leaders in Division Two after a 6-4 victory over Solihull Barons – Aaron Davies scored twice for the Dragons. Hull Stingrays picked up their first points of the season with a 3-1 win at Blackburn Eagles.
Wightlink Raiders lead NIHL1 South after a 5-2 win at Streatham Redskins – Jiri Hanzal & Alex Murray both scored twice. Raiders followed up with a 7-4 South East Trophy success over Invicta Dynamos – Craig Tribe bagged a hat-trick. Romford Raiders beat Solent & Gosport Devils 10-2 – Juraj Huska (2) & Matt Turner (2) led the scoring.
Julius Sinkovic & Gary Clarke both scored a couple as Chelmsford Chieftains opened their league campaign with a 7-5 win at Cardiff Devils. The following evening Chieftains ran out 8-6 winners over Romford in the SE Trophy – Tibor Schneider scored three. Justin Noble grabbed two as Invicta beat Bracknell Hornets 6-3.
Solway Sharks warmed up for their first season in NIHL1 North, with a double-header challenge game against the EPL’s Peterborough Phantoms. Mark Gallagher’s hat-trick helped Sharks to a 6-6 draw on home ice, but Phantoms squeezed home 2-1 in the return – Luke & James Ferrara got Phantoms’ goals.
Sheffield Steeldogs beat Manchester Phoenix 3-2 on aggregate to seal victory in their War of the Roses challenge match. Frantisek Baklirk scored four as Slough Jets drew 5-5 at Swindon Wildcats & the Czech forward followed up with a pair in a 4-1 win over Bracknell Bees. Basingstoke Bison drew 2-2 & 1-1 with Guildford Flames, while MK Lightning beat Telford Tigers 3-0. Tigers recovered on Sunday to notch a 6-5 win at Swindon – ex-Wildcat import Jaroslav Cesky scored three.
Coventry Blaze are the early pacesetters of the Elite League after a pair of wins. Blaze grabbed a 3-2 shoot-out win at Dundee Stars and followed up with a 4-3 success at home to Fife Flyers. Cardiff Devils enjoyed a three point weekend – winning 4-2 at Sheffield Steelers & losing out 4-3 after a shoot-out to the Steelers back on home ice. Nottingham Panthers eased to a 5-1 home succees over Dundee.
Belfast Giants started their Challenge Cup campaign with a 3-2 reverse at Braehead Clan. Nottingham won 4-2 at Hull Stingrays, while Fife edged past Edinburgh 2-0. The Capitals recovered the following evening beating Braehead 4-3 after overtime.
(Image permission: Colin Lawson)