EIHL wrap: Flyers’ road blues, Giants steady ship, and Steelers stay top
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The club made a long 640-mile round trip to Wales on Sunday and were shut out 6-0 by Cardiff Devils - their third shut out in the league campaign, and the fifth time they have been blanked this season.
Flyers’ track record in Wales is pretty poor with barely a handful of successes across many years, and a four-goal third period ensured that trend will continue into 2024, but the club has to find ways of winning on the road to keep the points column ticking over. They ground out a 2-1 win over Manchester Storm at home on Saturday to be part of a three-way tie for third. Sunday’s loss then down to seventh, such are the fine margins between the teams.
The gap between Sheffield Steelers at the top, and Guildford Flames in ninth is just six points. The picture is further clouded by the disparity in games played by teams. Flyers, Flames and Storm have played 14, while Cardiff and Sheffield 11, and Nottingham just eight after Panthers took time out following the death of Adam Johnson. December has always been a key month in the league race - it could be even more crucial this time round.
Flyers have won in Glasgow and Coventry so far, and need to ensure they pick up points at rinks such as Dundee and Manchester as well as Guildford. Do that, and keep winning at home, and they should comfortably hit mid-table - but they also need to up their game against the big four who will almost certainly stand between them and any prospect of play-off success.
Belfast Giants appear to have steadied the ship with a four-point weekend after tumbling down the standings, while Steelers continue to pick up points home and away; a 6-2 road win at Guildford underpinning their first place.
Coventry Blaze, a team under real pressure at the foot of the table, snapped a five-game losing streak with a 4-2 win over Dundee Stars, while Glasgow Clan, whose form, has been just as up and down -to the frustration of their fan base - claimed sixth place on the back of an overtime win against Manchester.
The league should continue to re-shape midweek with Cardiff at Dundee on Wednesday while Sheffield host Manchester. Friday sees Belfast at Glasgow before another full weekend of fixtures.