The new EIHL season has gotten underway and with many changes there was a lot fans, coaches and players were looking out for.
Saturday night saw 5 match ups in a mix of both the league and cup and that gave all involved the opportunity to assess inter conference play and having 4 referees on the ice.
In the Challenge Cup Nottingham will have the distinction of winning the first 4 official match up as they beat a spirited Hull Stingrays performance. Stingrays were 2 – 0 down before coming back to tie the match up thanks to a standout performance from young British goalie Ben Bowns. But it could have been a better day for the East Yorkshire side as they failed to produce on 8 out of 9 powerplays.
Elsewhere the Belfast Giants slow start in Braehead cost them victory as Robert Farmer was instrumental in giving the Clan an early lead. Across Scotland in Fife there was a tamer Forth Derby as the Flyers beat the Capitals for the second weekend in a row.
The league action all started with games in Sheffield and Dundee. It looked like there may be two upsets on the cards as the Devils dominated the Steelers in Sheffield and Dundee held a 2 goal lead till the last period. Whilst the Stars succumbed to late Coventry goals and penalties the Devils completed the victory.
Sunday’s fixtures saw 3 of the 4 games on offer decided by a single goal. In the cup it was Braehead’s turn to suffer for a slow start as the trailed by 3 going in to the final period. A triple in under 7 minutes from the Clan took the game into out but it was the returning Martin Cingel who set up Rene Jarolin for the winner.
Meanwhile in Coventry the Blaze had the previously suspend Brad Leeb to thank as his two goals in the third period lifted the Blaze over the Fife Flyers. In Cardiff there was the first home and home series of the season as they entertained the Steelers. A Faulkner hat trick for Devils kept the teams lock up only for Cory Pecker to hit the winning penalty shot.
The nights other game was in Nottingham as the Stars visited the Panthers. After soaking up some early pressure the Stars took the lead through former Panther Sami Ryhanan. That was as good as it got for the visitors as David Ling on his home debut scored twice to give the home team the victory.
Saturday 8th September
EIHL Challenge Cup
Braehead Clan 3 Belfast Giants 2
Fife Flyers 2 Edinburgh Capitals 0
Hull Stingrays 2 Nottingham 4
Sheffield Steelers 2 Cardiff Devils