Hull Stingrays moved further ahead at the top of the Gardiner Conference with a home victory over Dundee Stars, putting them in pole position for the Conference title with only two weeks of the season remaining.
The Stars responded by beating Fife Flyers with the odd goal in nine on Sunday, while Edinburgh Capitals scored an impressive victory over the Belfast Giants in the big league, where the Braehead Clan couldn't. Here's how all the action panned out.
BRAEHEAD CLAN 2-6 BELFAST GIANTS (ELITE LEAGUE)
It was yet another heavy defeat at the hands of Erhardt Conference opposition for the Braehead Clan, as Doug Christiansen's Giants ran up a hefty victory over the waining Purple Army. The end of the season can't come soon enough for the Clan, as they lost their eighth match on the bounce, with only one win in their last 13.
Ironically, it had been the Clan who had run out 6-2 victors the last time the sides had met at the Odyssey, but with the Clan struggling to find form and the Giants looking to catch the Nottingham Panthers, a home win never looked likely. Andre Fournier put the Giants ahead at 9:02, paving the way for a hat trick for the Belfast forward.
Despite having a couple of 5-on-3 powerplay opportunities, the home side could not find a way to breach Stephen Murphy's goal with the two man advantage in the second period. Instead, they scored two but conceded four goals in the middle session. Noah Clark put the Giants 2-0 up on a PP, before Matt Hanson gave the Clan a glimmer of hope when he halved the deficit at 26:00.
Having failed to convert on a second 5-on-3, the Giants scored two goals in a minute at the midway point to kill the game off, Brock Matheson beating Daren Machesney at 29:55 before Fournier netted his second at 30:53. Darryl Lloyd then grabbed the Giants fifth at 35:09 before Matt Haywood, pulled back a consolation for the Clan at 37:44.
Fournier wrapped the scoring up when he scored his hat trick goal at 45:45, condemning the Clan to another heavy loss which sees them slump to the bottom of the EIHL standings. With no other games over the weekend, they need to wait until Wednesday for another crack at gaining ground on the Hull Stingrays.
The Clan’s match against the Fife Flyers on Wednesday March 13 will be in support of Kidney Research UK. The Clan are asking that all fans wear something purple to the game – whether it is head to toe purple or even just a purple ribbon – just go purple!
Kidney Research UK will also be in the arena foyer on the night of the game with collection buckets, so any and all donations you can spare would be most welcome, and very much appreciated!
The charity also campaigns for better patient access to renal services and are dedicated to raising awareness of kidney disease.
You can get involved and help make a difference by going purple on Wednesday 13th March at Braehead Arena, support the Clan & support Kidney Research UK!Anyone can get involved in Go Purple this March and it’s an ideal fundraiser for you to do in your workplace, school or with friends and family. You can register online for your free fundraising pack, full of ideas and materials by visiting www.kidneyresearchuk.org
On top of that, all season ticket holders and match night tickets will be entered into a free prize draw for some great prizes. The Clan will be hoping that the Flyers will be in just as charitable a mood if they are to close back in on top spot in the Gardiner for the final weeks of the season.
DUNDEE STARS 3-5 HULL STINGRAYS (GARDINER CONFERENCE)
Sylvain Cloutier's Stingrays grabbed one of their most important wins of the season, as they maintained a four point lead at the top of the Gardiner Conference, and moved off the bottom of the Elite League for the first time in 2013. Although they have played a number of games more than their Gardiner rivals, the Rays are now in a great position for the final Conference standings.
For the Stars, the defeat was their eighth road defeat in a row and saw them drop to the bottom of the Conference for 24 hours. The Rays took a very early lead when Dominic Osman fired a side ahead after 46 seconds. However, former Stingray Janis Ozolins tied the game before Stars player/coach Jeff Hutchins put the Tayside team ahead at 13:17.
There was to be only one goal in the second period and that came courtesy of Matt Davies at 29:24, to level the game at two apiece. The third period saw much more goal action, as Billy Bagron nudged the Stars ahead with twelve minutes remaining, but the Stingrays would not be behind for long, before going on to seal a famous win.
Player/coach Sylvain Cloutier levelled for the Rays on 51.47 before they took the lead at 53.37 , Davies with his second goal of the game to give them a one goal lead. Jason Siverthorn got the insurance goal at 54.26 to give the Stingrays the huge two points
DUNDEE STARS 5-4 FIFE FLYERS (GARDINER CONFERENCE)
A nine goal thriller saw the Flyers take the lead on three occasions, but fail to go ahead when it counted, as Dundee ounces back from their loss at Hull to haul themselves back off the foot of the Conference. For the Flyers, the loss of the late late game winner for the Stars was a hard one to take, as they missed out on a chance to keep up with Braehead and gain on Hull.
The game started with a bang as both sides had found the net before eighth minute, Kris Hogg putting the Flyers ahead before Tristan Harper drew the Stars level at 7:39. Jason Pitton gave the visitors a lead with a powerplay goal for a second time at 16:33 but they were again pegged back at the death of the period when Sami Ryhanen inevitably got on the scoresheet.
The second period saw the Flyers go ahead yet again, this time through Bobby Chaumont at 22:20, a lead which the Flyers would keep until the third session. Jeff Hutchins got his second goal of the weekend to tie the game at 3-3 92 seconds in to the final period, spurring his side on to claim the victory.
At 56:06, Janis Ozolins pushed th Stars ahead, before Mike Mirll grabbed a fifth for the Dundee side at 56:06. The Flyers pulled Bryan Pitton and made the most of the extra skater when Casey Haines netted with 33 seconds to go, but the Flyers could not keep the momentum, as Dundee held out for the win.
**EDINBURGH CAPITALS 3-2 BELFAST GIANTS (ELITE LEAGUE)
A huge night at Murrayfield saw the Caps put a massive dent in the Giants' title hopes and catapulted themselves to within three points of Cardiff in fifth place in the big league, with a huge win over the Belfast side. The hosts had led 3-0 at one point and managed to stave off a come back from the Giants, who has thumped Braehead the previous night.
The game started perfectly for the Caps as Brent Patry fired them ahead at just 1:25, the only goal of the opening session. Despite being under threat from the Giants forward line, the Edinburgh D managed to see the period out with their slender lead.
A tight affair, it took until the final three minutes of the second period for the next goal and again it came the way of the hosts. With a powerplay opportunity, Rene Jarolin was on hand to double the Caps' lead to shock the Giants at 37:57.
Marcis Zembergs then looked to have sealed the victory with the Capitals' third of the night at 49:11, but the Giants de died to make it a little uneasy for their hosts, by grabbing two goals in a minute to set up a tense finale. Craig Peacock got the Giants' first of the night at 51:52, before Andre Fournier netted 43 seconds later to bring them to just one goal behind.
That would be as close as the visitors would get though, as the Caps held on for yet another fine win on their recent run, that should go a long way to guaranteeing them a Play Off berth that seemed lost at the turn of the year.
Hull Stingrays 5-3 Dundee Stars
Braehead Clan 2-6 Belfast Giants
Coventry Blaze 2-3 Cardiff Devils
Nottingham Panthers 2-0 Sheffield Steelers
Cardiff Devils 4-5 Sheffield Steelers
Edinburgh Capitals 3-2 Belfast Giants
Hull Stingrays 1-3 Nottingham Panthers
Dundee Stars 5-4 Fife Flyers
Hull remain at the top of the Gardiner Conference are their win over Dundee, but have played five more games than the Stars and three more than Braehead. Edinburgh's victory over Belfast doesn't see the move off the bottom of the Conference but has seen them gain on Cardiff in the Elite League. Fife missed out on the chance to go second having failed to put Dundee to bed.
In the big league, the Clan's loss to Belfast saw them fall to the bottom of the pile, while Hull's loss to Nottingham has them perched just a point ahead. At the top, Nottingham continue to be the front runners are their weekend wins over Sheffield Steelers and Hull, while the Giants lost ground after defeat at Murrayfield.
Kris Jack is a sports blogger and commentator. You can follow him on Twitter @krisjack85.