Taking the decision to remove your coach is not an easy task. Unlike other sports hockey head coaches are somewhat resistant to change during the season. The EIHL is now up to 3 coaching casualties after Matt Soderstrom and Doug Christiansen were relieved of their duties. They join Gerard Adams who was fired from coaching tasks before Christmas in Cardiff. Whilst sacking a head coach may be a difficult task what you do next may be just as big a decision.
New coaches will want to change things run, new lines, bring in their own assistants and their own players. All are things that take time even for a new guy and in mid season they are not starting with a team that they built. The Sheffield Steelers and the Coventry Blaze have had different seasons but still timings of these announcements are very odd.
In both cases the timing has many reasons to be questioned. Firstly is that Elite League season is all but over. With the right set of results this week the Belfast Giants could have been crowned league champions but with a 18 point gap and around 15 games remaining it is realistically only a matter of time. Continue reading
This week has been one of the most controversial and entertaining weeks in EIHL history. Coaches have been sacked and titles have been won and Cup finals have been finalised.
It was a busy day in the job centre as two more coaches joined the queue. First up was Matt Soderstrom who was relieved of his duties from the Coventry Blaze. Many had said it was just a matter of time with the Blaze out of the Challenge Cup in the group stage and languishing in 8th place in the table. Soderstrom was replaced behind the bench by Sheffield assistant Marc Lefebrve and on Thursday it paid off as the Blaze produced a massive 7-3 win in Cardiff.
That move by Lefebrve though made it even more bizarre timing that GB coach Doug Christiansen was sacked on Thursday by the Sheffield Steelers. The Steelers too have not had a great season but are in the running for a top two league finish. A 5-3 home loss in Wednesday’s Challenge Cup semi final proved to be the final straw despite the second leg still to come. Without a coach on in charge at the weekend club captain Steve Goertzen took the reigns for Sundays game in Cardiff. Continue reading
This week has been a thrilling week on the ice with semi final comebacks and heartbreaks.
Wednesday night saw action in both the Challenge Cup semi final and the EPL semifinals. The Giants held a 6 goal lead going into the second leg in Cardiff. The Devils had ground out a 3-1 lead heading into the third period. Whilst the Devils still needed to find 4 goals there was a hope amongst the Devils faithful. The Giants though showed what a strong side they are and 2 goals from Kevin Saurette levelled the tie on the night to win the tie 10-4.
In the EPL Cup there was action in both ties with some dramatic endings. The Guildford Flames were facing a 5 goal deficit in the second leg however with 2 minutes to go the Surrey side were well in contention. A last minute powerplay and with goalie pulled the Flames scored to make it a 10-9 aggregate deficit. An empty netter from Reynolds seconds later though ended the tie and gave the Bison a 11-9 victory.
In the other semi final the MK Lightning hosted the Manchester Phoenix in the first leg. After cancelling each other out the scores were level at 2-2 but the Phoenix hit penalty trouble and gave the Lightning a 3 goal advantage. Continue reading
This week saw deadline day for teams in the EIHA leagues but there was more movement in the EIHL as well ahead of their deadline for new signings.
1 In 1 Out at the Cardiff Devils
The Devils are once again in the news for their non playing antics. Positively speaking it is good news that former Belfast head coach Dave Whistle will be behind the bench in the absence of Brent Pope. Pope is going to Sochi for the Winter Olympics to fulfil his media commitments and Whistle will be in charge starting with Saturday nights loss to Nottingham.
A major blow though for the Devils this week was the loss of dual national forward Chris Blight. To make matters worse Blight has left to join GB coach Doug Christiansen and the Sheffield Steelers in the hope of boosting his changes of selection for the national team. Blight replaces Rob Sirianni in the line up and made his own way to Belfast for the Steelers losses to the Giants. Continue reading
This week we are once again at Silverblades in Widnes for their clash with local rivals Deeside and for a chat with Widnes owner Matt Lloyd. There will be more on that later in the week.
Elsewhere it has been a busy week in British ice hockey with news of signings, Challenge Cup quarter finals coming to a close and league action as well.
The remaining Challenge Cup quarterfinals came to a conclusion this week. Cardiff heading north to Fife with a four goal lead and were confident. On Tuesday night goals from Faulkner, Kurka and Davies ended the Flyers hopes of a semifinal birth as the Devils won 3-2 in Kirkcaldy.
The remaining tie saw the Dundee Stars travel south to Sheffield for the first leg. Legue, Sirianni, Hewitt and Stefan Meyer all got on the goal list as the Steelers took a strong 4-0 lead into Sundays second leg. The Steelers again took control of the tie with Lacroix and Dowd making it a 6-0 aggregate lead. The Stars then fought back and levelled the match in the third period before DiCasmirro scored the Steelers winner and a 10-5 aggregrate win. Continue reading