The Race For The Title – 12th January

Welcome to a new TCW feature which will look at the teams in the title race each Monday, looking back on the previous week and looking forward to their upcoming fixtures.

1st – Sheffield Steelers – 55 points 

Results: 10th January – Cardiff (H) – OTL 3-4; 11th January – Belfast (H) – OTL 3-4. Points gained 2; Points lost 2.

League Fixtures: 16th January – Manchester (H); 17th January – Hull (A). TCW prediction – two wins

Steelers will be disappointed with their return from this weekends games. Two home wins would have really stamped their authority on the title race and made it theirs to lose, but two overtime losses has given hope to the chasing pack, however there have been rumours of flu in the camp and they will want that cleared up before their weekend games against Manchester and Hull, where nothing less than four points will do. Time will tell if this Steelers team and coach Dave Matsos can handle the pressure in the run in, and he faces a big decision with his roster, with fit again Nathan Gillies ready to return if Matsos cuts one of his imports. Interesting times ahead at the House of Steel.

2nd – Nottingham Panthers – 50 points

Results: 7th January – Basingstoke (H) – W 7-3; 11th January – Edinburgh (A) – W 6-0. Points gained 4; Points lost 0.

League Fixtures: 17th January – Basingstoke (A); 18th January – Hull (H). TCW prediction – two wins

Panthers consolidated their position in second place with two wins this week. Coach Corey Neilson was looking for an immediate response to a poor performance against Basingstoke, and his players didn’t let him down with an emphatic win in Edinburgh, netminder Michel Robinson returning to his former club and earning a shut-out. With Belfast & Coventry on their tail and Sheffield ahead, Panthers have to take maximum points from this weekend games, but as we all know the Panthers don’t usually find things easy in Hampshire.

3rd – Belfast Giants – 49 points

Results: 8th January – Cardiff (H) – W 4-2; 11th January – Sheffield (A) – OTW 4-3. Points gained 4; Points lost 0.

League Fixtures: 18th January – Manchester (A). TCW prediction – overtime loss

The Giants kept up their recent good form with two more victories to keep them in the hunt, including a massive overtime win at leaders Sheffield. Belfast currently have the longest winning streak of the challengers having won their last four games. Victory in their only league game of the week in Manchester will be the priority, but the Phoenix will not make it easy. Belfast also have the distraction of the British Knockout Cup midweek, with two games against Coventry Blaze. They’ll be hoping to come out of those games injury free.

4th – Coventry Blaze – 47 points

Results: 10th January – Hull (H) – W 7-1; 11th January – Manchester (A) – W 2-1. Points gained 4; Points lost 0.

League Fixtures: 17th January – Newcastle (H); 18th January – Edinburgh (A). TCW prediction – one win, one overtime loss

Blaze have a hectic schedule this week with a two-legged British Knockout Cup tie against Belfast before two league games at the weekend. However there are strong rumours that Blaze have signed defenceman Dominic D’Amour, a former Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick, to replace Jon Coleman who has accepted an offer to play in mainland Europe. Fatigue will be Blaze’s biggest worry and a four point weekend will be a huge achievement for them.



2 Responses to “The Race For The Title – 12th January”

  1. 1 David England January 12, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    Jono… good review and more than fair however would it be possible to list the countdown fixtures till the end of the season for each of the team if space allows?

  2. 2 Craig January 14, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    Minor point Jono, referring to this:

    3rd – Belfast Giants – 49 points

    Results: 8th January – Cardiff (H) – W 4-2; 11th January – Sheffield (A) – OTW 4-3. Points gained 4; Points lost 0.

    Shouldn’t it be points lost 1 as Sheffield gained a point for going to OT?

    *Jono: No because Belfast got 4 points out of the 4 available to them, therefore they didn’t drop any points.

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