Well well well well well!!!!
Do you remember my playoff quarter final weekend preview post? I'll claim a 50% success rate is pretty darn good!
My predicted winners from last weekend's games were:
Milton Keynes Lightning
Thankfully the Phoenix managed to see off the Peterborough Phantoms, so the only other team I got correct was the Slough Jets!
Of the other two games, one was a shoick and the other less so! Anyway here's a quick look see at the results from the Quarter Finals!
MK vs Swindon (Swindon win 10-8 on aggregate)
What a shocker! I think the vast majority of fans (excluding those Swindon fan's) thought the Lightning would see off the Wildcats. While I thought the Cats could do it, i'll admit to not really thinking they could! Especially after the Lightning came away from the first leg with a 3-3 tie, so, like the Phoenix it was all hanging on their home game in the thunderdome. But you could argue, because of that fact, a tie could go either way. Its one game, one game either team can win. From all that I have read, MK did not really turn up to play at their usual best, and in playoff hockey, that is not good enough! Swindon are in some good form at the moment, while MK have eased off since winning the league. In a way im glad the Phoenix will not be playing the Wildcats in the semi-finals!
Slough v Sheffield (Slough win 7-2 on aggregate)
This one was less of a shock, the Scimitar's form heading into the playoffs really didnt show they were going to cause an upset. Which was a real shame, every visit of the Scimitar's to the Ice Dome has seen some fast paced and free flowing hockey from both teams. However it seems the Scims really ran out of juice! So in the end, a fairly routine pair of wins for the Jets.
Manchester v Peterborough (Manchester win 6-5 on aggregate)
Phew what a corker, after a tense first leg which ended 3-3 in Peterborough it all headed back to the Ice Dome for a winner takes all game, much like the MK v Swindon game. 60 minutes to earn the right to go to Coventry. I didnt go to the away leg, but I believe Matt & Becky off of Five Minute Major did. So you may see a review of that game on their pages some time soon. The home leg at the Dome was a corker! You can read all about it in my previous game review post. What an atmosphere, the Ice Dome really is becoming a great rink for a fantastic night of hockey. In the end, and Phoenix tinted specs off, the Phoenix did deserve to win. Thus ending 6 odd years of finals weekend disappointment for Phoenix fans!!!! If you want to hear/see what it meant to the team and the fans, take a look at the video in this posting just a couple of days ago!
Guildford v Basingstoke (Guildford win 8-2 on aggregate)
How wrong could I have been, I picked this tie to be the tightest and most difficult to predict! But Guildford well and truly blew that out of the water after the first leg in Basingstoke, with a 6-0 win. So in front of a sell out crowd, the Flames tied the game 2-2 with Basingstoke salvaging some pride. This gives the Flames a playoff semi-final against the Swindon Wildcats. Not as easy as you may think for the Flames, given they dumped MK out, and beat the Phoenix 10-2 in the final weekend of regular season play!
So anyway, that was playoff Quarter Final time, this is Playoff Semi Final time!!!!
Semia Final 1 - Guildford Flames v Swindon Wildcats (Head to head, Guildford with 5 wins, Swindon with 1)
Not the forgone conclusion you would have thought, 4th plays 8th, Giant plays GIant Killer.......again any more?
The season head to head is heavily in the Flames favour, but the same could have been said for the Cats against MK, and look what happened there! League form and results really does go out of the window come playoff time. Swindon really will have the underdog tag in this game, and, probably, the support of nearly everyone in the SkyDome come saturday. As for the game, it will be tense, and the first period will be key. The Flames have the ability to kill off the game early on, but if it is still tight after the opening 20mins the Wildcats could well do it. The heart wants the Wildcats fairy tail story to continue, but the head cannot see past the Flames advancing. Ive been critical of their inconstancy in recent games, however the Bison quarter final really blew away those cobwebs.
Prediction: Flames to make it to the final.
Semi Final 2 - Slough Jets v Manchester Phoenix (Head to head, Slough with 5 wins, Manchester with 1)
Set up to be a great game, against the Jets the Phoenix have played a good game, just never really got the puck in the net. The problem the Phoenix have had has been shutting the top line of the Jets down. Messers Emersic et al. The time we did do that, on the last visit to the hangar in Slough, the Phoenix got the win, and made the Jets look ordinary. The same can be said for this semi-final, if the Phoenix can look after that top line I can see the Phoenix making it to the final. Plus, I think the tougher opposition in the Phantoms the Phoenix had will stand them on good ground. The Phoenix had to be sharp and work hard, which they will against the Jets. It will be tough for the Phoenix, but they can do it!
Prediction: Phoenix to make it to the final!
I won't bother with an indepth prediction of how the final will go, but I will give a quick one line prediction based on the various final possibilities:
Final 1 - Slough - Guildford: Guildford to win.
Final 2 - Slough - Swindon: Slough to win.
Final 3 - Manchester - Guildford: Heart says Phoenix, head says Guidlford
Final 4 - Manchester - Swindon: Manchester to win.
Final 5 - Swindon - Slough: Slough to win.
So there you have it, the first EPL finals weekend preview on these pages!
Keep an eye on the twitter feed as, battery permitting, I will be tweeting from Coventry. Also keep an eye on all the other hockey blogs for various types of coverage. Plus the Phoenix podcast will be coming, as-live, from the weekend including an EPL fan's forum type set up, which should be interesting!