The British ice hockey season is in full swing, with a full weekend of games in all of the countries top three tiers.
Back to back wins for Belfast Giants saw the Northern Irish outfit rise to the top of the Elite League this weekend.
Great Britain international Craig Peacock scored on his first shift since re-joining the Giants last week, as they defeated Sheffield 4-2 on Saturday before recording a 7-4 win over Coventry on Sunday. Former Syracuse Crunch and Philadelphia Phantoms forward Jeff Szwez potted 3 goals over the course of the weekend as the Giants record extended to 7-2-0 to edge ahead of Dundee Stars.
The Scottish outfit went down 5-1 to Braehead on Saturday, but a narrow win against rivals Fife on Sunday ensured a 4 point cushion over 3rd placed Nottingham Panthers; who won both of their games over the weekend.
Under pressure, Cardiff coach Gerard Adams made a bold statement following a mixed weekend for his Devils side. Despite an 8-5 win over Edinburgh on Saturday, a loss to Sheffield on Sunday led to the surprise release of Great Britain forward Phil Hill on Monday. Hill has played 496 EIHL games for his home town Devils, and has spent almost his entire career within the clubs system. Speculation has already begun as to where the experienced forward may sign, with Coventry and Braehead both mentioned as possible destinations.
Sheffield Steelers D man Gord Baldwin was suspended for 5 matches for kicking following an altercation during Saturday’s game against Belfast. The ex-Medicine Hat Tigers blue liner will miss the remainder of Steelers games in October as a result of the ban.
English Premier League
Manchester Phoenix and Guildford Flames shared the points over the weekend, as the top two sides met in back-to-back encounters. Flames grabbed a narrow 3-2 win on Saturday, but a hat trick from Czech forward Michal Psurny ensured Manchester’s lead at the top was restored on Sunday with a 7-4 victory.
Rivals Milton Keynes Lightning and Peterborough Phantoms met on Saturday at Lightning’s temporary home in Coventry. Milton Keynes led 6-2 going in to the final period and survived a late rally from Phantoms, former Peterborough player Jordan Cownie scoring on an empty net to seal the victory.
Milton Keynes continued their good form on Sunday with a win over Slough, whilst Phantoms managed to snap their 4 game losing streak on Sunday however, as they battled to a 5-4 win over Basingstoke on home ice as Slovak star Erik Piatak scored a brace.
Elsewhere Swindon topped Bracknell on Saturday and Sunday, whilst Telford suffered their second major injury in as many weeks as forward Mikka Kiviranta ended up in hospital with a hand injury. The Finn joins Scott McKenzie on the Tigers injured list, but the Shropshire outfit did receive some good news as Red Hockey Limited took over ownership of the club.
English National League
London Raiders suffered a surprise defeat at Bracknell on Saturday, but rallied to grab a point on the road at fierce rivals Chelmsford on Sunday. Former Great Britain U20 netminder Euan King starred for the Raiders, who were only denied victory by a late equalizer from Chelmsford’s Ross Brears.
Further disciplinary action could follow for both sides however, after a brawl after the final buzzer resulted in 9 separate Match penalties being handed out. Chelmsford player-coach Gary Clarke was also ejected during the game for spearing.
Elsewhere Invicta Dynamo’s continued to mount their title challenge with a convincing 10-0 win over Cardiff, before overcoming hardworking Gosport on Sunday to round off a perfect weekend for the Kent side. Wightlink Raiders also had a strong weekend, tying with Chelmsford on Saturday before picking up a valuable 2 points in Cardiff on Sunday.
In the Northern section of the ENL, Deeside Dragons maintained their place at the top of the Laidler Conference with wins over Blackburn Eagles and Solihull, whilst Billingham hold a two point advantage over Solway at the top of the Moralee Conference.
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