Elite Ice Hockey League Wrap: Clan snap losing streak, Stars and Caps slump

Braehead Clan v Fife Flyers, January 2014.
Joel Champagne was in sharp form for the Braehead Clan over the weekend.© Al Goold

Seven games involving the Scottish EIHL sides over the weekend saw Braehead Clan stop a six league and conference game losing streak and gain revenge on the Hull Stingrays, while Dundee Stars and Edinburgh Capitals fell to defeats.

Fife Flyers were one of the sides to heap more misery on the Capitals on Saturday night, arresting their own run of losses in the processes.

Their seventh loss in eight games came at the hands of Braehead Clan in an end to end encounter on Friday evening. The hosts took the initiative early in the first period, when Shane Lust scored the opening goal at 5.30. With both sides going close to adding to the score throughout the session, it was the Flyers who struck next, Derek Roehl tying the game going in to the second period, at 18.06.

The running battle between Clan's Chris Frank and Matt Nickerson of the Flyers was expected to ignite once again, but the pair were kept well apart throughout the sixty minutes, with Nickerson getting heavy boos any time he touched the puck. The fans instead were left to enjoy more flowing hockey from both sides, with the Purple Army the next on their feet to celebrate Tristan Harper putting the clan 2-1 ahead in the 24th minute.

The lead was short lived though as Ned Lukacevic got the visitors back level just before the midway point with a powerplay goal. It stayed as such going in to the final session, where The Clan took control to earn a much needed win. Kevin Bergin smashed them ahead in the 51st minute and the game was made safe on the PP when Joel Champagne netted with eight seconds remaining, for a final score of 4-2 Clan.

Watch how it unfolded here:

Todd Dutiaume's side didn't have much time to dwell on the loss, as they hosted Edinburgh Capitals 24 hours later in Kirkcaldy in the battle of the league's bottom two sides. It wasn't an ideal start for the Flyers, as Caps' player/coach Richard Hartmann had the visitors ahead at the death of the first period. However, the hosts rallied and found themselves 2-1 up at the end of the second period. Bobby Chaumont tied the game within 13 seconds of the restart before Matt Reber put the home side ahead at the midway point of the match.

Three goals in the space of a hectic minute at the start of the third session decided the game as a contest in favour of the Flyers. Lukacevic's second of the weekend put the Fifers 3-1 up at 41.43 with Marcis Zembergs responding for the Capitals at 42.30. The Edinburgh comeback lasted just six seconds though as Chaumont speedily restored the two goal cushion. Jordan Fulton then put an end to proceedings, netting on the powerplay with less than two minutes to go, giving the Flyers a 5-2 victory and a bit of breathing space at the foot of the table on their east coast rivals.

Here's the post match reaction to the Flyers win with Jordan Fulton:

Having proven to be the nemesis of Braehead Clan in recent weeks, Hull Stingrays have done so while embarking on a six game winning streak. Their sixth in that chain came at home to Dundee Stars in Saturday night. A tight first forty of the match gave way to a blitz of goals in the finals session.

It looked good for the Stars early on, as Nikita Kashirsky scored on a PP in the third minute. However, Guillame Doucet levelled with a five on three advantage at 6.37 and that's how it stayed until deep in to the second period. Nico Sacchetti once again showed the Stars the way to goal, putting the Taysiders 2-1 at 37.11.

The hosts plugged away for a leveller and got their reward at 51.55 when player/coach Sylvain Cloutier levelled. It got better for the hosts moments later as Omar Pacha flipped the game on it's head with the game winning goal at 53:31. As Dundee chased a leveller, Hiadlovsky was pulled from the Stars goal, only to see Pavel Gomeniuk thwart their plans and scored an insurance empty netter with 54 seconds left.

Here's all six goals from Humberside:

Aiming for a seventh straight win, the Stingrays travelled to Braehead on Sunday, searching for an with straight win over the Clan and their third in a week. Instead, the hosts managed to exorcise their Hull demons with a shutout victory, aided by new signing Mario Laroque. Having made his debut in the win over Fife, Laroque's impact was felt as the clan claimed a four point weekend.

Matt Towe gave the hosts the lead at 17:24 in a first period of limited chances for either side. Kyle Jones impressed between the home pipes, keeping out Silverthorn, Doucet and co, leading to Shane Lust poking past Ben Bowns late in the second period to double Ryan Finnerty's side's advantage.

The game was wrapped up by the 47th minute as Joel Champagne netted Clan's third, while Jones was helped to his fourth EIHL shutout of the season by Laroque and the rest of the home D. The four point weekend took the Glasgow based side back up in to third position in the Elite League and to within a point of second placed Dundee in the Gardiner Conference.

The Stars were on Challenge Cup duty on Sunday, looking to overcome a 4-0 first leg loss to Sheffield Steelers last midweek. Despite a spirited performance, they lost the match by the odd goal in eleven, to an aggregate score of 10-5.

The tie was over as a contest within the opening ten minutes of the game, as Maxime Lacroix and Rob Dowd made it 2-0 on the night, 6-0 combined. Kashirsky rallied for the Stars after the halfway point of the session, only for Drew Fata to add another to the Steelers tally at 25.13 in the second. A John Dolan reply gave hope that a game could be made of the match, only for Tim Spencer to put the Steelers 4-2 ahead before the period end.

The final session saw yet more goals, as Rob Sirianni made it 5-2 with a 5 on 3 PP strike. Rory Rawlyk and a double from Nico Sacchetti then had the home fans on their feet, as they brought the Stars level on the night, the second of Sacchetti's on a 5 on 3. With less than five minutes left, Nate DiCasmirro put the final nail in the Stars' coffin, to crown a 6-5 victory and the 10-5 aggregate scoreline to set up a Challenge Cup Semi final with Nottingham Panthers.

The final game of the weekend with Scottish involvement saw Belfast Giants increase their lead and goals scored tally at the top of the Elite League, with a 7-2 win over Edinburgh Capitals at Murrayfield. In a thumping first period, the Northern Irish side helped themselves to six goals, with just the one counter from the hosts.

Colin Shields, Calvin Elfring and Jeff Mason had the Giants three goals to the good just air the first periods mid way point, before Dustin Whitecotton grabbed a fourth, forcing a time out on the home bench. It worked temporarily as Curtis Leinweber pulled a goal back, only for Shields and Whitecotton to add to their tallies before the period end.

Jade Portwood won the second period for the Caps as they settled, scoring the only goal to reduce the arrears to 6-2 for the Giants, but Whitecotton had the last word, rounding off his hat trick in the final session to seal a 7-2 victory that stretches the Giants lead at the top of the table to 17 points. The loss for the Caps cuts them three points adrift at the foot of the division.

STANDINGS

Elite League
EIHL Jan 22

Gardiner Conference
Gardiner conference Jan 22

STV EIHL WRAP GARDINER CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE WEEK

  • Three Nico Sacchetti Dundee Stars - 2 Goals, 1 Assist
    Usually Sacchetti's points tally for the weekend would have seen him at the top of the tree, but as they were acheived in vain in both of the Stars games, he lands himself in third place. The comeback shown by the Stars in their second leg Challenge Cup Quarter Final defeat was admirable, but came on the back of a toothless first leg in midweek, which Jeff Hutchins was moved to apologise for on Twitter. Sacchetti has proven though that while things are toughening for the Taysiders, he's more than capable of working to pull them out of the mire and keep them gunning for Gardiner and Big League points.

  • Two Bobby Chaumont Fife Flyers - 2 Goals
    Despite coming up short against his former side on Friday night, Chaumont helped himself to a double to arrest the losing streak the Flyers had found themselves on, with their win over Edinburgh. It's been a fruitful few weeks for the fans' favourite, and his goal scoring exploits of late have put him in the frame for the Flyers POTY award. If he can keep that return rate up, he might be the man to fire them towards the play-offs.

  • One Joel Champgane Braehead Clan - 2 Goals
    Scoring the insurance goals in both of the Clan's games this weekend, Champagne helped uncork the relief around Braehead, after a a series of frustrating losses in the past few weeks. Earnign a 4 point weekend was made a greater acheivment by earning it against bogey team Hull, who Champagne has performed fairly well against in recent times, only to be upset by defeat. On Sunday, Joey Bubbles helped his side to stop that rot and also claim a shutout win over the Rays, forcing the Clan back up to 3rd in the table. For that, he gets the POTW award.

Kris Jack is a sports blogger and commentator. You can follow him on Twitter @krisjack85.

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