UK Ice hockey round-up (w/e 24th March)

Solway’s Adam Reynolds

NIHL1 North champions Solway Sharks rounded off their regular season with a pair of emphatic wins. Two goals by Ross Murray helped Sharks to a 5-0 success at home to Whitley Warriors and they followed up with a 10-4 victory at Sheffield Spartans – Adam Reynolds (6), Nathan Salem (3) & John Connolly got the goals.

Solihull Barons moved up to second in NIHL2 North after a crushing 8-0 win over Nottingham Lions. Barons will secure their place in the promotion play-off against Coventry Blaze if they match Deeside Dragons’ result in their final games. The other fixture in NIHL2 saw Fylde Flyers win 5-3 at Blackburn Eagles.

Chelmsford Chieftains clinched the NIHL1 South title with a 6-0 win at Solent & Gosport Devils – Michael Ranby scored a couple. Chieftains celebrated in style back on home ice with a 4-2 success over Wightlink Raiders – Danny Hammond (2) led their scoring. Wightlink claimed second place with a 10-3 win over Bracknell Hornets – Jiri Hanzal hit a hat-trick. Romford finish third after a 9-3 win at Streatham Redskins – Juraj Huska scored four. Raiders will play the Chieftains in the final of the NIHL South Cup after a 9-0 win over Peterborough Islanders.

Guildford Flames had a mixed weekend in the EPL. Two goals by Jozef Kohut helped them to a 5-3 win at Swindon Wildcats, but they followed up with a 5-4 defeat at home to Slough Jets. Doug Sheppard hit a hat-trick for Basingstoke Bison as they beat Swindon 6-3. Manchester Phoenix won 7-6 at Sheffield Steeldogs – Tom Duggan’s fifth of the night secured the points.

Telford Tigers finished the season with their second four-point weekend in a row. Scott McKenzie scored twice as they beat Bracknell Bees 5-2, and they followed up with a 5-4 win at Manchester. Ollie Bronniman scored three as the Bees downed Sheffield 7-5, while Slough won 3-1 at MK Lightning.

In the Elite League Belfast Giants clinched the Erhardt Conference title after a pair of impressive road wins. Giants won 4-2 at Coventry Blaze and they followed up with a 3-2 success at Sheffield Steelers. Braehead claimed the Gardiner Conference crown with a 4-3 win at home to Dundee Stars – Steve Birnstill scored twice for the Clan. Fife secured second with a 4-1 over Braehead.

League champions Nottingham beat Cardiff Devils 4-3 – Eric Werner got the shoot-out winner – and they completed their regular season with a 6-3 success in the reverse fixture – Panthers’ David Clarke bagged a brace. Sheffield beat Hull 4-3, but the Stingrays bounced back to down Coventry 4-1. Edinburgh enjoyed a double header success over Dundee – winning 3-2 on the road and 4-2 back on home ice. Two goals by Robert Lachowicz helped Nottingham to a 4-1 lead after the first-leg of the Challenge Cup final against Sheffield.

The end-of-season play-off line-ups are as follows:

Elite League: Nottingham v Fife, Belfast v Edinburgh, Braehead v Cardiff, Sheffield v Coventry.

EPL: Guildford v Peterborough, Basingstoke v Swindon, Manchester v Bracknell, MK v Swindon.

NIHLN: Solway v Blackburn, Billingham v Sutton.

NIHLS: Chelmsford v MK Thunder, Wightlink v Streatham, Romford v Bracknell, Invicta v Cardiff.

(Image permission: David Morrison)

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