EIHL round up

EIHL round up

Robert Newbolt16 Apr 2018Robert Newbolt»

The EIHL in the UK ended with this season being the most competitive for a while, indeed the final playoff position was not confirmed until the last day of the season.


Cardiff Devils were crowned EIHL league champions for a second season in a row, the team now having won seven championships in the last four seasons, making their captain, Jake Morrissette the most successful skipper in the history of the Devils.

Cardiff had been the team to beat all season: topping the league for most of it. They were consistent throughout and their depth of talent helped them overcome their Arena rivals.

They secured the title with a week to spare, coming out with 85 points.

Their closest rivals most of the season were the Belfast Giants, but a late slump by them saw them finish in fifth place. They had 23 wins from 36 starts, these mainly away games. They may have lost focus on the league because of their Challenge Cup exploits as they reached and ultimately won the trophy in Cardiff by 6-3 for only the second time in their history.

Manchester Storm caused a surprise by finishing as worthy runners up in the league and securing top spot in their conference.

They began the season slowly and early results did not bode well but momentum built for them and with a formidable home record they went ten games unbeaten in early January, eventually doing enough to clinch a playoff spot.

A late surge in form saw the Sheffield Steelers finish the season on a high and clinch a place in the finals of the championships.

This wasn’t the season Sheffield were hoping for: they ended up trophy-less for the first time in four years. A drop in form to key players coupled with lengthy injury spells to top forwards Dowd and Armstrong saw a severe lack of consistency and the side finished in third place, although sixth place looked much more likely but for that late run.

Nottingham Panthers did well in Europe, becoming the first UK club to reach the knockout stages of the CHL, but their domestic form suffered as a result.

Whilst they were in the CHL they were carrying all before them in the League, topping it for long periods. However, once they were knocked out they seemed to lose momentum and their form spiraled almost out of control. Even though they ended the season a respectable 4th they spent much of the second part of the season languishing in the lower reaches of the league.

Now I must mention the two new teams to the league, Guildford Flames and Milton Keynes Lightning.

The Flames had many ups and downs, and many firsts but finished their first season with 27 wins and a creditable 6th place which saw them gain entry to the play offs but an aggregate defeat in the quarter finals meant they did not reach the final four.

It was a different story for The Milton Keynes outfit though. There early season form was good but around December time injuries began to take their toll and results started to tail off. This caused a lack of confidence and their home form suffered causing them to finish in 11th place in the 12-team league.

The highest placed Scottish side, Fife Flyers. The team that coach Todd Dutiaume put together did well after they got key players back in the lineup and went a winning streak of 13 games heading into February. Their conference title decider was a 13 goal thriller with rivals Dundee stars: Flyers coming out on top by 7-6 to claim the Gardiner trophy.

Coventry Blaze pipped Braehead Clan for a playoff spot on the final day of the season. However, during the season consistency, defensive lapses and the inability to do the simple things right ultimately made for a disappointing league campaign.

Under new coach to the EIHL John Tripp the Braehead Clan underperformed in most departments, and except for winning the inaugural Scottish Cup this was a season they will want to forget.

Dundee Stars finished just out of the play off race but their incredible work ethic instilled into them by coach Omar Pacha was fantastic for such a small budget side. Even with the odds against them they managed to, pull off a win in Nottingham and put together a five win streak - something they have never done since 2010/11 season. Their large home ice became a fortress but unfortunately the momentum of the later games was not enough to propel them into playoff contention. Even so there is a tremendous buzz going around Dundee at the moment.

Now we come to the club who propped everyone up all season. Edinburgh Capitals only recorded five wins all season; the lowest ever recorded in an EIHL season. Their final win came as far back as October. The Capitals had begun the season recruiting mainly from Russia but as the club sought to turn around the season by making changes several key players decided the rugged landscape of Scotland was not for them. As the season went on the constantly short-staffed bench battled to keep the club afloat.

This is the first time I have watched an Edinburgh side and thought a win is a certainty for the team I support.

Off ice the attendances for games improved immensely especially in Dundee, Sheffield and Manchester.

As a taster of the EIHL I have included a video of some of the biggest hits.

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