Rink round up

Friday, 31st December 2004

A busy festive period this year saw plenty of league and inter-league action out on the ice, starting on Boxing Day with the traditional clash of the titans, Nottingham Panthers versus Sheffield Steelers. Marek Ivan put the home team ahead after ten minutes and it looked like it was to be a merry Christmas in Pantherland until Dion Darling found the net in the 59th minute, taking the game to overtime. By this point the Steelers were without coach Rob Stewart on the bench, following his ejection after a misconduct penalty halfway through the third period. Erik Anderson spoiled the Panthers party by netting for the Steelers in overtime to give a 1-2 final score to the visitors.

The gulf between the top and bottom of the Elite League was highlighted when the current wooden spooners Basingstoke Bison played host to league leaders Cardiff Devils. Boxing Day lived up to its name with the Devils picking up 59 penalty minutes in a game that saw the Cardiff team simply outclass Basingstoke and come away with a 1-6 victory, with Owen Walter's sole marker for the Bison counting against goals from Jeff Burgoyne, Nathan Rempel, and a pair each from Dave Matsos and Jason Becker.

Monday's action saw inter-league action with Belfast playing host to Fife and Cardiff hosting Newcastle, and league action from Coventry as they hosted Sheffield. Former Manchester Phoenix captain George Awada found the net for the Belfast Giants in the first period, with Tony Hand, Todd Kelman, former Stormer Curt Bowen and Marc Levers all adding markers to the Giants tally to secure a 5-2 win over Fife. Over in Cardiff, Nathan Rempel and Dave Matsos had their scoring gloves on again as they netted for the Devils in their game against the Newscatle Vipers. Another former Storm player Russ Romaniuk also got on the score sheet on the way to a comfortable 4-1 victory over their BNL opposition.

Over in Coventry, there was a classic case of leaving it to the last moment with Sheffield taking a 2-3 win in overtime, with Mike Peron netting in the final second of OT, giving him a tally of two goals in the game. An early marker from Chris McNamara had given Blaze the lead, but a marker from Mark Dutaime put the teams at level pegging. Mike Peron and Dan Carlson traded goals in the second, and it remained that way until Peron's OT game sealer.

Tuesday's ice-time saw the Blaze drive over to Pantherland as Nottingham played host to Coventry in a tight contest which say Blaze take the lead through Russ Cowley, only for David Clarke to draw level and Marek Ivan to put the home team ahead. A late second-period netter from Dan Carlson saw the last of the scoring, with the game finishing as a 2-2 tie after overtime.

Wednesday night saw the Bison play host to on-form London Racers in a tight contest that saw the home team pick up some rare points, taking a 4-3 win against the guests from the capital. Two goals in less than a minute sealed the win for the bottom-placed Bison.

London Racers have also announced the signing of former Bracknell Bees and Sheffield Steelers player Joe Ciccarello, who spent last season with Basingstoke Bison in the Elite League.

Rank Team Name Played Won Drawn OT Lost G GA Points Goal Difference
1 Cardiff Devils 31 21 2 1 7 99 66 45 +33
2 Sheffield Steelers 32 18 3 2 9 77 64 41 +13
3 Coventry Blaze 29 16 4 4 5 97 64 40 +33
4 Belfast Giants 28 17 4 1 6 86 50 39 +36
5 Nottingham Panthers 28 15 3 4 6 89 61 37 +28
6 London Racers 30 10 6 1 13 59 74 27 -15
7 Basingstoke Bison 30 6 5 1 18 70 112 18 -42

By Richard Allan