The Fitzy effect
You have to say that when Glasgow Clan turned to Zack Fitzgerald as their new coach, it was something of a gamble for both parties. At this stage, it’s paying off handsomely.
Looking very dapper in his suits nowadays, clean shaven or a hint of stubble, it’s a far cry from the ‘Fitzy’ we all remember as a player when he turned out for Clan and Sheffield Steelers, with his gapped tooth smile and bushy ginger beard.
When he first left the club in 2015 to go to Steelers, it was a decision that didn’t go down too well and fans seemed hurt that he turned his back on Glasgow/Braehead and joined the team Clan had been edged out of the title by.
He came back and captained them to a top half finish and the semi finals of the Challenge Cup, still giving the sort of performances that made him a favourite to begin with.
Off the ice, he’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet and there are lots of fans who will testify to that, having had the pleasure of being in his company.
Now, this isn’t just a piece to lavish praise on someone who happens to be doing great things at a team I happen to have an association with. This is about a guy taking on something completely different and succeeding right now in the cutthroat world of the Elite League.
I’ll admit to being one of the ones that was a little surprised that Clan gave Zack the job, but it was one that made perfect sense.
After two seasons of complete overhauls, continuity was important and asking Fitzgerald to step up was a big call.
Finding the right guy to follow Pete Russell, who gave the team and the fans a great season by their standards was always going to be a tough ask. The last thing they wanted was another John Tripp.
Fitzy, to his credit, answered the call and has delivered some pretty impressive results so far in his 20-odd games in charge. He could have decided he wasn’t ready and that would have been fine. Only he knew if he was up to the task.
Russell had already started rebuilding until he moved to Germany so Fitzgerald had a base to work from and from there he took it on and built a solid team so far.
Aside from the opening weekend against Dundee Stars, Glasgow have picked up some impressive results against the “arena teams” and are top of the table, three points clear as things stand.
His team never panic when in adversity and on Sunday, saw two key players, Craig Peacock and Mathieu Roy, both through injury and still conjured up an 8-5 win against the Steelers, who were right behind them in the standings.
Nothing’s been won yet and there’s still so much hockey to be played. The bonkers nature of the results we’re seeing means you should be prepared for the unexpected. And that means the possibility of Glasgow being in the mix. After all, they’ve done it before.
I’m still of the opinion that the likes of Belfast and Cardiff will get themselves on track and make a real charge towards the title, but while everyone continues to cut each other’s throats, it’s anyone’s right now.
You can see he’s growing more and more into the position with every game and any negative results his team get, they bounce straight back the next night and do so very well.
He has complete trust and faith in his players that they’ll do the right things on the night and they show that with the performances they give. It’s a two-way street that, right now, is mutually beneficial.
Can the Clan challenge for the title? Right now, it’s possible, but far from certain, but with Fitzgerald at the helm, the fans are certainly confident he may be able to do something no previous Clan coach has ever done? Win a trophy.
Panthers keep the flag flying in Europe
It was a tough group, but seeing Nottingham Panthers finish top of the pile in their Continental Cup group was really pleasing as they set their sights on the crown again.
Tim Wallace deserves a lot of credit for the job he’s done so far after a tricky start to life since taking over from Rick Strachan.
But the recent turnaround in form has put them in a good place and getting the wins over Amiens and SønderjyskE has bookended a good few days in Denmark.
No doubt, facing SønderjyskE as well as taking on Neman Grodno from Belarus and Polish side Cracovia Krakow takes on a whole new challenge, but Wallace and his team will be ready for it.
What a week for British Ice Hockey
We’re not talking about ourselves here, because every week is a good week at BIH Towers, but what a coup for Ice Hockey UK to land Canada as opponents for an exhibition game before the World Championships in May.
We won’t know which headliners will be coming here exactly, but the possibility is a mouth-watering and the sort of practice Pete Russell and his team needs before they head to Lausanne.
I’m not in agreement with the prices set, but I understand the reasons for doing it. If you want to bring the best, then the cost will be high.
It’s certainly one to look forward to.
Best of luck to GB Para Ice Hockey team
It’s been one game, but GB lost 14-1 to Slovakia in their opening game of the World Championship B-Pool, taking place in Germany and will look to get better this week.
So, we want to wish Ian Offers and his team the best of luck in the rest of the competition in Berlin, starting with Russia on Monday at 11am and goes on until Friday.
Check out all information on GB and their group by clicking here.