Looking to the cup?

Thursday, 15th November 2007

Another look at the 2007/08 Elite ice hockey league (EIHL) and challenge cup season and how its shaping up all from a fans point of view exclusively here at www.manchesterphoenix.co.uk

First things third then, an apology for not writing this sooner but, the past weekend was the first chance to see the last of the Elite league clubs this season, I thought it best to hold my comments until now. True to my word, the 2007/08 season is proving to be anyone’s for the taking.

Well Coventry, all guns blazing once again and are at the top end of the Elite league table. Starting the season with only four loses from 19 attempts in the league and challenge cup. In contrary to the seasons overall form, recent fixtures have not made great reading and the Blaze have slipped out of the Challenge cup at the first hurdle, along with stuttering results in the league which have seen the Blaze knocked off their lofty perch by Newcastle. A minor blip on the grand scheme of things for Coventry? Or are we seeing a downturn? KC Timmons joins Coventry from the Phoenix as they look at strengthening their defensive play. Man to watch (as ever!): Dan Carlson

The Cardiff Devils, fast and exhilarating with big hits taking the imagination of the Welsh capital? Are we back in the ISL days? Fast forward to 2007 and big hits, with a rough and ready team, plenty of players taking two minute breathers is what they are all about this season. Giving plenty of penalties away made the devils quite beatable at the start of the season. Losses to Hull, Edinburgh and a 5-1 drubbing by Sheffield coupled with interesting developments off the ice made for a wrong start. Recent form though has been eye opening, championship winning you might say. Crippling the Bison 8 goals to 4, and demolishing the current play off champions Nottingham 6 goals to 2 on Sunday. Only the one loss in the last 13 outings is proof that the Devils are hitting the right form with a tough fixture schedule ahead. Man to watch: Matus Petricko

Edinburgh Capitals started this seasons campaign with four wins from six attempts in the league and challenge cup. A major improvement in Edinburgh’s fortunes I was thinking and the whipping boys of previous seasons had turned a new leaf. Injury’s perhaps have plagued the season and following the four wins, a crushing 12 defeats from the last 13 has seen them slip to the bottom of the league with only 8 points. A gut wrenching statistic for all involved with Scottish ice hockey, but a big smile was plastered on their faces on Sunday; Edinburgh defeated Coventry 3 goals to 1. A turn in fortunes perhaps? I hope so. Man to watch: Ryan Crane

Hull Stingrays, A new logo, A fresh outlook. Hmmmm interestingly, Hull are blowing hot and cold, never quite being able to string a run of results together. Back in October, the Stingrays travelled to Belfast and a two goal shut-out of the giants opened my eyes a little to then get defeated by the Giants at home 7 goals to 1 just six days later. Six consecutive defeats have seen a slip down the league and scrapping for the last playoff spot is all I can see for the Humberside club, unless they prove me wrong and string two wins together of course ;-) Man to watch: Paul Cabana

Challenge cup 2007/08
Sheffield Steelers Vs. Cardiff Devils
Nottingham Panthers Vs. Newcastle Vipers

Taking a look at the Challenge cup now, and my thoughts can only be channelled to what might have been for Manchester and Coventry, both missing out on the top two spots with fixtures that both teams could have won. Of the semi-finalists though, all four teams have a different edge and desire to win some silverware. Cardiff are hitting form, but then so are table topping Newcastle. Too close to call I think and there is not a set outcome to the semi-finals.

But for now enjoy the hockey influx over the coming weeks, as fixtures come thick and fast in the run up to Christmas.

Ben Haddock

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Ben thinks the league is anybody's for the taking.

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