The Angry Budgie Live

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Thoughts on a season Part 2

So we had placings 1 to 5 yesterday, time for 7 to 10 today!

Newcastle Vipers

Bit of a disappointing season for the Vipers, the franchise players seemingly coming to the end of their careers the Vipers never really took off. Even Derek Campbell didn’t look the same this season. The Vipers need a clear out and get some fresh blood out on the ice. The Vipers should be up challenging for a title, they have all the ingredients:

Fine arena
Dedicated support
Hockey tradition

Sound familiar? You could argue the Vipers are much similar to the Panthers! Hockey in the north east has been around since year dot. So it just seams the final piece of the jig saw is the team on the ice.

For the 0809 season I enjoyed the Vipers visits to the Ice Dome as it would usually mean a win for the Phoenix. The Vipers played good, if not spectacular, hockey and had an outstanding net minder in Andrew Verner. His quality only underlined by being nabbed to the continent. Im sure the Blaze and Steelers must have been itching for his signature!

So a season to forget and a bit of an uneasy off-season as the clubs future is decided, but the Vipers are now a team I feel an affinity with. As a fellow member of the little four, a cracking weekend was spent singing along with the Vipers and generally making a nuisance of ourselves to make a point!

Edinburgh Capitals
The 0809 season for the Caps mirrored the 0708, the Caps struggle for most of the year but come January something happens up in Murrayfield. The Caps get going and make the playoffs. This year this meant a playoff quarter against the Steelers, a close first leg would leave the tie open to either team. But sadly, for everyone bar a Steelers supported, the game was decided after the first leg.

The Caps are slowly building a successful franchise up in Scotland, a Capitals visit to the Ice Dome was never an easy win for the Phoenix. But I loved watching them play, accompanied by some of the best fans in the league!

The big handicap, it seems, for the Caps is the revolving door roster. They need to sign a team and keep it all season. All the mid season departures and signings will never give rise to 100% coherency in the locker room.

Standout player would be Mark Hurtubise, coming in just behind our own David-Alexandre Beauregard in scoring stakes he was a joy to watch. I imagine a great deal of time and effort for the Caps office will be spent bringing him back to Edinburgh next year! I can only hope that if not, he considers Manchester! If we could afford it just imagine Hurtubise and Beauregard on the same line!

Hull Stingrays
Or should it be the Hull/Nottingham Stingrays, with rumours abound the Stingrays now being bankrolled by Neil Black it should be an interesting off-season for those in Hull! Hull always seem to struggle and never really got going in any game at the Ice Dome, the Stingrays only win against the Phoenix coming in the Phoenix march madness period when the team were dead on their feet.

A roster sprinkled with some decent players in Kostadine/Kalmikov/Slonina and emerging brit Lee Esders, the Stingrays had the nuts and bolts of a successful team. But they never really clicked and a poor first half of the season meant an uphill struggle was needed to reach the Caps in the last playoff spot.

With Rick Strachan gone and ex Blaze Clouthier becoming player coach there is much cause for optimism on Humberside. I will be looking forward to the visit of the Stingrays next season!

Basingstoke Bison
A season to forget for those down in the Silverdome, a season that yielded only 8 wins all year and a record making loosing streak. The worrying signs emerged early in the season for the Bison, only for planet ice to come in and save them. A move to the EPL being a sensible one for the Bison, many rivalries renewed and many new ones to be made!

Sadly 0809 would not see the same terrific ten for the Bison, as players left there did not seem to be the same do or die attitude on the Bison roster. At times the Bison would click and play some sublime hockey. But those moments were few and far between. The highlight for me would been the form of Kevin Reiter in the Bison goal. Standing on his head night in and night out he kept the score line respectable in so many games.

I think had he been with any other team he could easily win them a trophy, a big mobile goalie who would frustrate opposing fans and players.

So EPL for the Bison, and I think it will do them well! I will be sad not to see them or their fans at the Ice Dome again!

Tune in tomorrow for The Angry Budgie's view on the Phoenix!

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