The EIHL’s Elite Series got off to a flyer with goals galore across all four of this weekend’s matches and some surprising upsets.

By Kris Smith

 

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Game 1: Manchester Storm 3 Coventry Blaze 2 OT

The opening goal of the Elite Series came after just 13 minutes on Saturday night as Ciaran Long buried his first-time shot past Coventry shot-stopper, Shane Owen on 13 minutes to give the Storm an early lead.

After no more goals in the opening period, Scott Simmonds doubled Manchester’s advantage with a powerplay marker inside 39 minutes, as Janne Laakkonen sat in the Blaze penalty box for hooking.

However, Danny Stewart’s men gave themselves a big momentum boost early in the third session with a powerplay goal of their own, via Simen Andre Edvardsen. The Norwegian’s goal came just 25 seconds into Craig Peacock’s hooking minor in the 47th minute but they would leave it late to converted their momentum into a goal.

With less than two minutes to go Mike Hammond used a fake shot to trick Storm netminder, Sean Bonar before beating him with a high blocker-side finish, therefore the first game of the season required overtime to find its winner.

After four minutes of 3-on-3 hockey Andreas Klavestad sent a perfect pass out into the middle of the slot for Ben Lake to blast home with 46 seconds left on the clock.

 

(Picture Credit: Scott Wiggins)

 

 

Game 2: Nottingham Panthers 2 Sheffield Steelers 3

After a scoreless first stanza in Saturday’s second match, the two big rivals finally opened the scoring on 33 minutes when Jonathan Phillips gave Sheffield by deflecting Kevin Schulze shot past Ben Bowns.

However, there was trouble for the Steelers as their starting netminder John Muse was forced off with an injury, just 34 minutes into his debut and Ben Churchfield took his place between the pipes.

Less than two minutes later, Aaron Fox’s side doubled their lead through their homegrown talent Liam Kirk but that 2-0 lead was swiftly cut in half when the Panthers pounced 31 seconds later.

Nottingham’s Kevin Domingue turned a defensive error into a goal with his quick finish after pinching the puck from the Steelers defence.

Following their first goal, Tim Wallace’s men wasted no time in equalising through Austin Cangelosi in the 39th minute and his quick wrist shot meant the rivals would enter the final break on level terms.

Although, after just 62 seconds of the third period, Sheffield were back in front with Kirk providing again and it would prove to be the game-winner.

 

(Picture Credit: Karl Denham)

 

Game 3: Sheffield Steelers 4 Manchester Storm 5

Sunday’s first game saw both of Saturday’s victors go toe-to-toe and it was the Steelers who broke the deadlock on 10 minutes through Josef Hrabal.

Although the home side’s lead was short lived as Long put Manchester back on level terms within three minutes but again the scoreline would be altered shortly after.

This time it was Robert Dowd who fired the Steelers into the lead with a powerplay goal in the 16th minute and the first period closed out with the Yorkshire club still in the lead.

In the second session, Long stepped up again for Manchester and buried one on the powerplay to tie the game once again on 22 minutes.

The Storm’s star man was involved once more as he setup Ben Davies to beat Churchfield and fire Manchester into the lead, five minutes after the equalised.

Ryan Finnerty’s men did not let up from there and forced another goal home on the man advantage and continued to punish Sheffield’s poor discipline, this time Dallas Ehrhardt finding twine on 31 minutes.

Sheffield finally mustered up another response moments later as Kirk cut the lead to one with seven minutes left in the second period.

However, the Altrincham side still held a lead going into the third period but that advantage was quickly wiped out by Sondre Olden on 42 minutes.

With the sides tied once more, the 4-4 stalemate would continue to go unbroken and as the game look set to head into extra time, Maxime Fortier broke the Steelers hearts and their defence.

The Canadian netted with just 54 seconds left on the clock and the Storm would hold on to claim their second win of the weekend.

 

(Picture Credit: Dean Wooley)

 

Game 4: Coventry Blaze 3 Nottingham Panthers 1

In a rematch of Friday’s exhibition game that the Panthers won 6-1, it was the Blaze who got a quick start and opened the scoring for a second time against Nottingham.

Tristan Keck beat Bowns inside 94 seconds and that sent the West Midlands club off and running.

By the 11th minute, Nicolai Bryhnisveen had doubled Coventry’s lead before a cross-checking penalty against Nottingham’s Brendan Ellis allowed Sam Duggan to convert on the powerplay after 16 minutes.

There would be no more goals for nearly 40 minutes as the Blaze held their three-goal lead through the rest of the first and the entire second period.

It wasn’t until the 54th minute when Domingue got Nottingham off the mark and the visitors made a late push.

The Panthers even had a late two-man advantage as they swapped their goalie for an extra attacker and then picked up a powerplay after Coventry’s Simen Andre Edvardsen was caught hooking.

However, the Blaze stood firm and sealed their first win of the Elite Series.

 

(Picture Credit: Karl Denham)

 

League Table

Team

GP

W L OTL Pts
Manchester Storm

2

2 0 0

4

Coventry Blaze

2

1 0 1

3

Sheffield Steelers

2

1 1 0

2

Nottingham Panthers

2 0 2 0

0

 

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