This week British hockey fans finally got the news that they were waiting for when it was announced that a preliminary roadmap had been drawn out for the return of the Elite League. Although there are still many unanswered questions regarding how clubs from different areas of the UK will compete under devolved administrations, it seems that there is at least a plan to bring back the nation’s highest level ice hockey tournament.
It’s been four long months since the 2019-20 EIHL season was abruptly cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. This saw Cardiff Devils edging ahead of the Sheffield Steelers at the top of the table, although there were also strong performances from the likes of Coventry Blaze and the reigning league champions, Belfast Giants.
Obviously a lot can happen in the run-up to the beginning of the new Elite Season that’s currently pencilled in for December 2020. Much of this depends on whether improvements in public health can bring the essential fans back to the hockey arenas.
But this hasn’t stopped many of the bookmakers featured at sports betting resources such as www.bettingtips.net speculating as to who could triumph in the 18th season of the Elite League. Here are the teams who are looking most likely to be the champions of the 2020/21 EIHL season.
The Welsh team had an outstanding 2019/20 and will understandably feel hard done by not to claim their seventh championship title. Much of this was down to the excellent goalscoring form top skaters such as Joey Hadded and Gleason Fournier, but there was also plenty of support at the back thanks to the impressive work of goaltender Ben Bowns.
However with an ongoing vacancy for the role of head coach since Andrew Lord left for North America, it’s going to be interesting to see how Cardiff Devils compete.
You wouldn’t want to bet against Sheffield Steelers continuing their strong run of form at the end of the last season. Aaron Fox’s team were a constant menace throughout the whole of the campaign and hopes will be high that players such as Brandon Connolly, Marc-Olivier Vallerand and Anthony DeLuca can keep supplying plenty of goals.
While there remain plenty of questions about the team’s leaky defence, we can expect the Steelers to provide plenty of fireworks next season.
It’s been a decade since Coventry Blaze last picked up a championship title, but hopes are high that Danny Stewart’s team will pick up where they left off earlier this spring.
All eyes will be on their formidable Canadian captain Drew Schiestel to provide plenty of experience, but with skaters like Luke Ferrara, Charles Corcoran and Andrew Johnston providing plenty of goalscoring firepower, we’re expecting big things from Coventry Blaze.
Adam Keefe’s team may have had a relatively disappointing season after the high point of winning the 2018/19 Elite League championship. But their fourth place in the table masks the quality of their team with their imposing goaltender Shane Owen being perhaps the best in the league.
If anything it was Belfast Giant’s goalscoring ability that let them down last time around, but we’d hope that the team emerges reborn once the next Elite League season kicks off.
Finally, we couldn’t discuss the 2020/21 Elite League and not mention Nottingham Panthers. Any team featuring the likes of Sam Herr is going to be capable of producing big results, and the Panthers captain was in epic form last season.
Herr was the leading scorer at the end of last season, and such is his skill and enthusiasm that we think that he’ll continue his strong run of form next time around.
What about the rest? Can Glasgow Clan compete for the top prize? Or maybe Fife Flyers, Dundee Stars, Guildford Flames or Manchester Storm can provide the mother of all upsets?