Basically Friday saw both the Phoenix and the Capitals post two news items detailing the bare bones of operating within the EIHL. Exposing all the improper business dealing, all the mis-management and cloak and dagger movements behind the scenes. Now I am a Phoenix fan, but putting aside my Phoenix tinted specks, after reading the following two links you must admit the Caps/Vipers and Phoenix were nearly forced out of the league by the ‘other’ 6! So the two articles in question:
If all this is true, I think it’s a complete and utter disgrace and the ‘other’ 6 should hang their head in shame! However as im not privy to how each club and in turn the league is run I will leave my comments there. Following the playoff weekend it does, how ever, seem that sense has prevailed:
So after reaching the edge, it seems everyone took a moment and a step back! We will have nine teams in next seasons Elite League. So onto finals weekend, and the annual pilgrimage to Nottingham! Yours truly started off the weekend badly, when East Midlands Trains decided to cancel our train! Never mind, we made it and joined around 350 other Phoenix fans spread across blocks 7 and 8! The ticket allocations for the playoffs is a whole other farce from EIHL towers!
Anyway the four teams present in Nottingham were:
With the Devils crashing the party EIHL towers would nearly have had a wet dream over that lineup! Almost the coveted ‘big 4’ at finals weekend! Anyway ill review each game separately from what I can remember! If im honest I spent most of finals weekend singing for the Phoenix and generally being a nuisance (noise wise) to the league in the NIC! You can revisit my weekend predictions here.
So here we go:
Sheffield Steelers vs Cardiff Devils
Pre finals weekend prediction: Steelers to win.
Final Score: Steelers 5 – 2 Devils
With the vast majority of the arena rooting for the Devils, save for some Giants fans – get a room J, the Steelers had to make sure they did not come acropper to the perennial Finals team the Devils. All looked to be going well for the Steeler machine when Phillips had them in front at the end of the first period. Even at this stage, with the solid Steeler D it began to look inevitable. The Steelers began the second where they left off in the first, when Doug Sheppard made it 2-0 Steelers. This seemed to wake the Devils who then went on to score two goals in 71 seconds. With everyman’s nemesis Brad Voth getting the first and Matt Elich getting the second. The Steelers did end the period in front, however, when Jeff Legue netted. The game was put beyond any doubt when the excellent Robert Dowd scored to make it 4-2 Sheffield. The Devils pressed, and with Aubry off the ice for the extra skater, Deganais scored an empty netter to send the Steelers to the final, and the Devils home…..again!
Coventry Blaze vs Nottingham Panthers
Pre finals weekend prediction: Panthers to win.
Final Score: Blaze 2 – 6 Panthers EIHL towers would have been praying for a Panther win in this semi-final, and those towers will need a wipe down as the Panthers eased past a rather naff Coventry Blaze. Many a Phoenix fan were left to rue the loss to the Panthers in the quarters, as many fancied the Phoenix to win through to the final had we played that Blaze side. Anyway onto the game! This semi was effectively done and dusted after the first 20minutes. The Panthers raced to a 3-0 lead in 14 minutes. With goals from Galbraith, Cook and player coach Neilson. The Blaze, understandably, took a time out to regroup and disrupt the Panthers flow. It seemed to work and before the end of the period the Blaze were on the board through Stewart. Onto the second, with many hoping of a Blaze revival, it wasn’t to come. The Panthers would win the period 2-1. With goals from Clarke and Richardson, and the solitary Blaze goal from Moore. It was all over after 4 mins of the third when Bergin scored the Panthers 6th just to humiliate the Blaze. Im amazed by the Blaze! They always seem to make it to Nottingham only to loose all interest and go out without so much as a whimper! Mr Thomas needs to sort this out or the Blaze will never make it to a final! So with the Panthers meeting the Steelers in the final EIHL towers had their dream final, as mentioned the Kleenex must have got worn out in those ivory towers! I had a big worry with this game, with all the build up I came to the conclusion that this final would be naff!
The Playoff Final – Sheffield Steelers vs Nottingham Panthers
Pre finals weekend prediction: Steelers to win.
Final Score: Steelers 2 – 0 Panthers
So the immovable Steelers defence cam e up against the high flying Panthers offence, whats that phrase again? ‘Offence wins games, defence wins championships’ So it was the case, this game needed the Panthers to score first, and they didn’t! It was obvious from the moment the Steelers scored first an air of inevitability descended on the NIC. It was only a case of when Sheffield would secure the win rather than if! A game, which promised so much, including a warm up session of handbags! Rather petered out into a naff final. The Steelers scored after 15mins through Steve Munn with a shot that Michel Robinson will want back! The Panther fans will complain he was offside, however from where I sat, at the other end of the arena, it looked ok for me! An even second period that resulted in no goal lead to a winner takes all third period. The Panthers could not muster enough offence to really trouble the excellent Lehman in the Steeler goal. Sheffield would go on to secure the win when Ryan Finnerty scored their second at after 44minutes. From that moment the Steeler curtain fell and the Panthers could not find a way through.
So ended the game, and a moment, which I think was the most disgraceful thing I have ever seen in hockey. More on which below!
Another weekend in Nottingham gone, a weekend of much turmoil and protest, and ultimately a rather dull win for the Steelers. Im sorry for the so called ‘greatest rivalry in hockey’ it produced one of the worst finals I have ever seen!
Highlights of the weekend:
- The camaraderie between the ‘little 3’ Vipers/Caps and Phoenix fans, joining together to let the EIHL know, we would not go quietly!
- Upholding the Phoenix fan’s reputation as the best in the country IMO! We defiantly had the best variation in songs sung all weekend!
- 'He shot, he missed, he wanted an assist, Tony Hand, Tony Hand!'
- Meeting Paul from the Breakaway Blog for a good chinwag!
- Theres two really, the perennial tit that is David Simms coming down from his lofty perch to rollock the Viper fans beneath him for making a noise!
- But the icing on the cake was the way the Steelers celebrated their final win. You would have thought with 5 seconds to go Lehman would wait and go and celebrate in front of his own fans? Well no he didn’t, he threw down his stick, raced over to the Panther fans, jumping into the plexi and beginning to goad and taunt those fans. Im pretty sure Lehman knows what the V sign means! Needless to see the Panther fans went mad, a situation only made worse when the rest of the Steeler team decided to join Lehman on the plexi making the same gestures!
- The Panther players thanking only thanking their own fans after the final. OK fiar enough but skate around the arena, lets face it most of it was supporting you!
This has just shown what a classless organisation the Steelers are, their celebration and this press release serve nothing other than to stoke up and piss of the Panthers organisation more. It was a senseless and needless act. Ignore what I say, fine I don’t care what you think, but you cannot escape the facts of the day! The way the Steelers celebrated was wrong, and releasing that article on the official website was just stupid.
So a weekend of much turmoil ended the way it begun, with the EIHL showering itself in brown doo doo!
Up next for this blog will be a Phoenix end of season player by player review, and a club by club review. Stay tuned people!