Ice Hockey fans across the country rejoiced last month when the Elite Ice hockey league returned to rinks across Britain after what felt like a long off season.
That renewed sense of optimism and excitement was widespread for all 11 teams in the league who will each be hoping to improve on last season or challenge for the 3 trophies on offer.
Following the last season’s league and play off double, Andrew Lord’s Cardiff Devils will have every reason to feel that they are once again the team to beat. Their involvement though in the CHL (Champions Hockey League) might well impact their consistency in domestic competition.
The main contenders will be hoping to position themselves to make the mot of any loss of form from the current champions and the first month of the season has seen Nottingham Panthers start really strongly to lead the way.
This season sees the league benefit from a new TV deal with freeview channel Freesports which will see a live game broadcast every other Wednesday and a highlights show on the off week. As such the most recent live offering was a classic from Nottingham which saw the Panthers come back from 3-1 down to secure a last gasp winner to beat champions Cardiff 4-3 at the death.
At the other end 2 big clubs that will be disappointed with their start to the new campaign will be Belfast Giants and Sheffield Steelers. The Giants currently prop up the league with just 1 win so far, although they will be expecting to improve in the coming weeks and make their way towards the top end of the table.
Meanwhile the Steelers have had a really stuttering start to the new campaign following a lot of new players arriving in Sheffield. It’s clearly taking it’s time for them all to gel, but the poor start proved too much for coach Paul Thompson to survive and he resigned his post on Monday afternoon.
But at both top and bottom, with so much hockey left to be played there is plenty of time for movement and change. It’s just good to have it back.