Whilst there are no new teams in the EIHL for the 2012 season there are still plenty of new things. Most of all the new conference structure is proving controversial and the addition of the quarter final stage to the challenge cup will add to the excitement.
There is yet another new coach at the Clan with Jordan Krestanovich taking the reigns as player-coach. With the new conference structure Krestanovich as got a weight of expection on his shoulders as the clan are expected to be at the top of Gardiner Conference. There are two key signings for the clan this summer with Garrett Zemlak switching from Fife and re-signing last seasons star player Jade Galbraith.
The Stars scrapped into the playoffs last season and it could be another difficult season. Jeff Hutchins though as signed a goalie who could be up to the task. Nic Riopel signs after 3 years with the Philadelphia Flyers organisation. Riopel was also a won gold medal at the Under 17’s World Championships and was QMJHL league MVP but will need to repeat that form for the Stars to make an impact.
The Caps somehow managed to missed the playoffs last season despite being inside for most of the season. Having re-signed the services of Rene Jarolin and player coach Richard Hartmann it has been a rather quiet summer of the Murrayfield team.
Despite finishing bottom of the league the Flyers won some plaudits for their team effort. This season though much more will be expected from the Kirkcaldy outfit. Todd Dutaiume has built on his defence with the signing of Jeff Caister and Derek Keller but the Flyers could be lacking going forward.
Hull’s off season has been rather eventful. Off the ice was the on again off again on again takeover saga. On the ice though Hull made some important signings especially with their British contingent most notably with highly rated young goalie Ben Bowns from Sheffield Steeldogs. The question will be how will Bowns stand up to the EIHL on a full time basis.
Last seasons league winners are looking to do what only the Coventry Blaze have previously done and retain the title. Doug Christiansen has recruited a strong line up of import players but has also added to his British strength. The signings of Matt Towe and David Philips will add some depth to the outfit that will be one of the favourites for the title.
The Devils have managed to punch above their weight in the EIHL and will need a big season to do so again. The loss of Brad Voth was literally a big role to fill but with Devin Didiomete the Devils have some who can talk the talk or at least tweet it. Another important signing will in goal with Phil Osaer returning to the Welsh outfit.
Last season was poor by their standards. The financial crises that engulfed the side though look to have past and Paul Thompson has arguably made the signing of the summer. The Blaze secured the services of troubled former NHLer Mike Danton.
The Panthers were in the hunt for the title till late in the day but eventually petered out. Corey Neilson’s signings this summer raised many eyebrows. The decision to release club captain Danny Myers and sign former GB international Jonathan Weaver was controversial to say the least. Neilson though may have reprieved himself in signing David Ling.
The Steelers took their fight to retain the trophy late into the season but a disastrous St Patricks day in Belfast cost them the defence. The Steelers have responded with many changes as Ryan Finnerty makes the move to behind the bench full time. Finnerty has also brought in GB international Colin Shields alongside former Clan defenceman James Jorgensen. Steelers though will be looking to Steven Goertzen and Shawn Limpright to add to their noted scoring form.
League: Belfast Giants – The added depth to their British contingent will proof the difference.
Gardiner Conference: Braehead Clan – The Clan have the organisation and experience on their side but watch out the Fife Flyers and Hull Stingrays.
Challenge Cup: Coventry Blaze – The Blaze have signed some firepower and on their day could beat anyone just question if they can sustain that.
Playoffs: Nottingham Panthers – The Panthers have a ton of experience but their age could rule them out of a sustained league challenge but watch out for them in one off games.