Who are the in-form stars in the 2021/22 Elite League season?

Although professional ice hockey has been staged in the UK for almost a century, the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) has brought some much-needed razzamatazz to the British ice. Since 2003, the EIHL has attracted some of the best British and European hockey talent. The 2021/22 EIHL campaign is no different in that regard, with plenty of stars making their mark this season.

Given that ice hockey is now the leading indoor professional sport across the UK, it’s no surprise that interest in daily fantasy ice hockey is growing among fans. However, there are still very few places to create and manage your own EIHL fantasy hockey teams.

The Finnish SM-Liiga is already attracting the attention of the leading online betting sites that offer fantasy sports such as Fanteam. Although the Elite League does not carry quite the same gravitas as the SM-Liiga across the continent, it’s certainly comparable with the likes of Belarussian BXL and the Austrian ICEHL, so you’d hope expansion from these sites into the EIHL isn’t too far away.

If you’re already involved in an EIHL fantasy league online or you’re just starting out and looking to gain advantage for the latter half of the 54-game regular season, read on to check out the five in-form stars of the EIHL so far in 2021/22.

Marc-Olivier Vallerand

Despite playing three games fewer than other leading EIHL forwards, Marc-Olivier Vallerand has still contributed to the most points in the league. He’s scored 20 goals and assisted 22, amassing a contribution of 42 goals. He’s also the second top scorer in the EIHL with only Cardiff Devils forward Brodie Reid scoring more than him (21), albeit in five more EIHL appearances. The 32-year-old Canadian has contributed to 184 goals in 140 career appearances in the EIHL, which also include a spell with Coventry Blaze.

Justin Crandall

29-year-old American forward Justin Crandall is one of the most creative and unselfish stars of the EIHL this season. Crandall has posted 29 assists in 2021/22 for the Cardiff Devils. Those assists have come in handy for the Devils to keep within touching distance of league leaders Sheffield Steelers. Crandall made the move to south Wales from the Swedish Allsvenskan League, where he turned pro with IF Bjorkloven after four years with the University of Minnesota-Duluth’s NCAA hockey programme. His speed and flair are up there with the very best in the EIHL and will come in handy for the Devils’ Challenge Cup semi-final clash with Sheffield this month.

Rok Stojanovic

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31-year-old Slovenian goalie Rok Stojanovic has already become something of a cult hero with Steelers fans. The imposing 6ft 6” goaltender travelled to Sheffield for a try-out with the team still waiting on Barry Brust’s visa – and the rest is history. Stojanovic has become part of the Steelers’ furniture, posting the best save percentage in the EIHL this season at 93.55%. It’s significantly better than Barry Brust’s (89.03%) during his 13 2021/22 appearances.

JJ Piccinich

JJ Piccinich is up there with Marc-Olivier Vallerand in terms of the most rounded and versatile EIHL forwards. The Belfast Giants’ American ace has registered 19 goals and 22 assists, one shy of Vallerand. The 25-year-old, who made multiple ECHL appearances with the Orlando Solar Bears, the Newfoundland Growlers and the Tulsa Oilers, as well as the AHL’s Toronto Marlies and the San Antonio Rampage, has found his feet (or skates) in Belfast. It’s his most productive goalscoring season since his two-season spell with the OHL’s London Knights.

Tyler Beskorowany

The Belfast Giants’ Tyler Beskorowany may just pip Rok Stojanovic as the EIHL’s most dependable goaltender in the 2021/22 EIHL season. Beskorowany has played eight games more than the Slovenian this year and has still registered a significantly lower goals against average (1.69) than Stojanovic (2.01). The 31-year-old Canadian, who started life in pro hockey with NHL franchise Dallas Stars, returned to Belfast for a second spell in June 2021 and looks set to be key for the Giants’ playoff hopes.

With the Steelers two points clear of second-placed Cardiff having played four games less than their Welsh rivals, Sheffield remain in pole position to clinch their first regular season title since 2016.

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