Paul Thompson’s observation’’we have a good league now’’ pretty much summed up a fascinating weekend of action.
The results posted on Saturday and Sunday contained some stand out wins and eyebrow raising losses in both league and Challenge Cup action.
Steelers’ coach saw his team endure, for them, a rare pointless weekend with two defeats delivering just one goal over six periods of hockey, and, just when he thought it couldn’t get any worse, he was thrown out after criticising the referee’s decision to eject one of his players.
While Steelers stuttered – not a phrase you use very often when summarising an EIHL weekend – their conquerors, Belfast Giants, savoured the wins on 2-0 and 3-1 scorelines, but they came at a cost as netminder Stephen Murphy was injured.
Manchester Storm coach, Ryan Finnerty, also had a weekend he’ll never forget.
Not only did he become a dad, but his team had a smashing 48 hours with goals galore in wins over Cardiff – a 6-1 victory in Wales is something few teams will manage this season – and edging Guildford Flames in Altrincham to stay top of the league.
There’s clear early momentum building behind Finnerty’s tough and talented Storm team, and they’ll enjoy the view from the top.
Cardiff’s woes were compounded with a 5-2 loss at the hands of newcomers MK Lightning in the Challenge Cup.
Lightning also savoured a 7-4 victory over Coventry Blaze to give them four points from their opening three games; points which will do wonders to help the new team gel, as well as making the rest of the league take note.
Braehead Clan ignited their season with back to back road wins, scoring a hugely impressive 5-3 win in Nottingham before crossing the border for as 3-1 Sunday victory in Edinburgh.
That compounded a poor weekend for Caps as they also went down 4-3 in Dundee.
Panthers, whose form in the CHL has been scintillating, did bag a 3-2 penaalty shots win over Guildford, while Fife put their first points on the board with a fine 2-0 win over Coventry Blaze too.
It was their first match-up with opposition south of the border and a match-up that gave them a chance to assess the weight of the opposition outwith Scotland. Both teams were short benched, but this was still a big test, and a big win, for Fife despite being heavily outshot.
With teams having played anything from one to five games in the league, the early table is a bit of a guddle, but Manchester are in pole position at the top going into the final weekend of action in September.
They have a two-point lead over second placed Belfast and Nottingham, tied on six points.