Rink round-up

Monday, 26th September 2005
It's been a busy weekend in the EIHL with Challenge Cup and League fixtures keeping most of the teams busy.  Belfast Giants maintained their top spot in the Elite League with a convincing 4-1 win over Basingstoke Bison, with three of their goals coming in the first period through Marc Levers, Curtis Huppe and Jason Ruff.  Ex-Phoenix captain George Awada found the net very early in the first to give the Giants their fourth goal, and then the Belfast defences went up, keeping the Bison at bay until the third period when Brad Cruickshank netted to break the shut-out. Belfast now sit atop the table with six points from five game played.
Basingstoke's loss at Belfast in the league on Sunday came hot on the heels of a Challenge Cup loss at home to London on Saturday, with the Racers coming out on the smiley end of 1-3 scoreline. Jeremy Cornish and Brad Cruickshank kicked things off in style, dropping the gloves after only three seconds of play, and both received two minute penalties for their dance.  Ex-Phoenix forward Jason Hewitt opened the scoring for the Racers early in the first, and Nathan Rempel pushed the scoreline to 0-2 halfway through the first period.  John Wheaton brought the scoreline back to 1-2 before the first interval, but the revival was shortlived, with Trevor Baker putting the biscuit in the basket to make it 1-3.  No further goals in the game gave the two points to the visitors.
London followed up their Saturday win over Basingstoke with a visit from Newcastle Vipers on Sunday, and a tense game that saw a scoreline stalemate until the final period, where ex-Coventry hardman Andre Payette netted to give the Vipers the lead.  Jan Krajicek pushed the scoreline to 0-2 and then kept the Racers at bay.  David Longstaff put the game out of London's reach with an empty netter just before the final minute, and the game subsequently ended 0-3 to the Vipers.  Trevor Koenig in the Newcastle goal notched up a 23 shot shut-out, the Vipers playing without Simon Leach and Paul Ferone.
Newcastle's Saturday game had been less successful, with the visiting Sheffield Steelers finding the net after only fifteen seconds through Mark Dutiame and again within three minutes through Ron Shudra.  Mel Angelstad's pre-game promise of fireworks was fulfilled early, with the enforcer picking up a two plus ten penalty for a check to the head, and then a game penalty for waving a white towel at referee Paul Staniforth before the opening period was ten minutes old.  Dave Longstaff came through for the Vipers to open their scoring, and then a second period marker from Paul Ferone saw the sides equal.  Rod Sarich, back from injury, found the net for the Steelers in the third period to take the points for the visiting Sheffield team in this Challenge Cup fixture.
Sheffield went on to make it a two-win weekend with a league match against Cardiff Devils on Sunday, with all four goals coming in the second period.  The visitors opened the scoring through Louis Goulet just before the halfway point, but Ron Shudra was quick to equalise for the Steelers.  Paul Sample and Rod Sarich finished the scoring, giving a 3-1 result to Sheffield.
The loss in Sheffield compounded the misery of the weekend for Cardiff Devils, with their Saturday Challenge Cup home game against Coventry Blaze seeing them go down 1-2.  Jeff Hutchins opened the Coventry account in the first period, and Andreas Moborg put the game at 0-2 in the second.  A consolation short-hander came through Jeff Burgoyne wasn't enough to get Cardiff back in it, and Coventry claimed the 1-2 win.  Devils Coach Ed Patterson was disappointed with the loss, but is philosophical about the overall position, saying "It's how we are at Christmas that really matters to me but it would have been nice to win tonight because it would have basically kicked Coventry out of the Challenge Cup because we'd have had five points and already got rid of Coventry with two wins, and then we'd only have London and Basingstoke."
Coventry's fortunes continued into Sunday with a visit from Nottingham Panthers, and Neal Martin made an early impression when he found the net after a minute of play to give the Blaze the lead.  Ex-Manchester Storm forward Barrie Moore extended the Blaze lead to 2-0, and Martin Klempa kept the pipes closed to earn a thirty five shot shut-out and a win for Coventry, 2-0 the final score.
Nottingham's loss on Sunday came on the back of what can only be described as a spankathon the night before, when the Panthers took apart Edinburgh Capitals at the National Ice Centre.  Dan Tessier and Curt Bowen gave the home team a 2-0 lead in the first period, with Joe Cardarelli and Brandin Cote extending the lead to 4-0 in the second.  Two more from Cote and markers from Matt Myers and David Clarke saw the Panthers notch up an impresive 8-0 scoreline.
by Richard Allan