EIHL: New kids on the block call the shots

MK Lightning have made a great start to life in the EIHL (Pic: Tony Sargent)
MK Lightning have made a great start to life in the EIHL (Pic: Tony Sargent)

They may be EIHL newcomers, but Guildford Flames and MK Lightning are refusing to stick to the traditional script.

First year teams are meant to struggle, endure long losing streaks, and finally get points on the board around November.

Flames and Lightning have, instead, lodged themselves comfortably mid-table, and, last weekend, both booked their places in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup – and in some style too, gunning down some of the bigger EIHL names.

Lightning took their tally to ten points from six games with a solid 5-1 win over a hot and cold Coventry Blaze, and a 3-2 OT victory on the road at Guildford.

That result also guaranteed Guildford either an automatic qualifying spot as one of the top two teams in their group, or a wild card spot as one of the two best performing third placed teams – they have more points than Dundee Stars in Group B.

Devils, meanwhile, have been left hanging by a thread thanks to 3-2 win in Coventry, with player-coach, Andrew Lord, netting what proved to be the winner. That scenario wasn’t in the script, pre-season either ...

Belfast Giants also progressed to the knock-out stages on the back of a trouble free 5-0 win over Fife Flyers who had already secured their berth in the last eight.

Netminder Jackson Whistle enjoyed the shut out, although in dealing with just 18 shots he wasn’t really taxed too heavily.

Flyers clearly had more than one eye on Sunday’s key league game at home to Braehead where they stepped on the gas and freewheeled to a smashing 5-1 win over a Clan side that looked utterly disjointed.

With just three league wins, new coach John Tripp will be feeling the heat of the Purple Army on his back as they look for immediate improvements.

That defeat - and the manner in which they performed - wiped out any breathing space gained in the 5-3 win in Edinburgh on Saturday; a result which snapped a four-game losing streak, Brendan Brooks netting two of the strikes.

Early season pacesetters, Manchester Storm, showed a huge amount of character to post a four-point weekend which included a 4-3 penalty shots win over Dundee Stars – a victory achieved despite being 3-0 down.

To add insult to injury, two of Stars’ goals came from ex-Storm players, and after OT failed to produce a winner, it was the penalty shot of Ciaran Long which secured the win.

Storm also posted a solid 3-1 win in Edinburgh, although they lost Jay Rosehill, thrown out for checking to the head – a penalty which will put him on DOPS’ radar with the possibililty of supplementary disciplinary action this week.

Nottingham Panthers also enjoyed a four-point weekend, which started with a huge 4-3 penalty shots victory over Sheffield Steelers, and wrapped with a solid 6-3 defeat of Belfast Giants.

Those returns kept Panthers firmly in the top three in the league – joint second with Sheffield on 12 points and with two games in hand, but both trail Manchester by four.

The bottom of the table makes for sorry reading as far as Scottish ice hockey fans are concerned.

Caps are bottom with two points from four games, Dundee are fairing only slightly better with three from six, but the big worry has to be Braehead, third from last on six points but with nine games played. That too wasn’t in the script ...