Gameweek 28 Round-up (final week)Published on 27/03/2012
Gameweek 28 saw the final regular season games for all teams in the Elite League. With the league champions already confirmed as Belfast Giants and with 2nd 3rd and 4th positions cemented, all interest was focused on the race for 5th place as well as the final playoff spot in 8th. Coventry Blaze needed a win from either of their games against Cardiff Devils to secure 5th, whilst Edinburgh Capitals needed to win all three of their weekend games and hope that Dundee Stars lost their games if they were to grab the final playoff position.
Friday 23rd March
Nottingham Panthers 7 Edinburgh Capitals 0
A win for the Capitals would have leapfrogged them above Dundee Stars in the playoff race, but despite the potential for such glory, the Capitals didn't show up and the Panthers ran out comfortable winners as they build for their playoff quest.
Forward Sami Ryhanen scored the game winner and added 4 assists for a 5 point evening, while Matt Francis helped himself to 3 goals. In the net, Craig Kowalski recorded his 9th shutout of the season, posting 22 saves.
Saturday 24th March
Belfast Giants 4 Nottingham Panthers 3 (Overtime)
Another large crowd turned out in Belfast to see the league champions banner raised to the rafters. The game itself was an exciting and feisty encounter, despite it's 'dead rubber' billing. The Giants were able to take the win with an overtime winner from British forward Craig Peacock.
Braehead Clan 6 Hull Stingrays 1
The Clan's chase for 5th was out of their hands as they needed Coventry Blaze to lose both fixtures over the weekend, whilst the Clan themselves needed to win both. For their part, the Clan did what was required, dismantling an improving Stingrays team quite convincingly. Forward Brock Mcpherson has been a revelation for the Clan this season and he scored 2 goals on the night including the game winner. Defenceman James Jorgensen has also proven a big signing and he picked up a 3 point night with 1+2
Coventry Blaze 6 Cardiff Devils 4
Both teams went into this game knowing that a Blaze win would set up a playoff matchup between the two big rivals. After going 3-1 down, the Blaze sparked into life, scoring 5 unanswered goals, taking the score to 6-3 before the Devils scored a late consolation. Forward Mike Mclean was the scorer of the game winner, whilst Robert Farmer and Shea Guthrie both scored 1+3 to pick up multi assist bonuses.
The Blaze win meant that 5th place was secure and set up the Blaze v Devils in the playoffs.
Fife Flyers 1 Dundee Stars 2 (Overtime)
In an emotional final home game for the Flyers, the players wore special commemorative shirts in honour of absent player-coach Todd Dutiaume, who recently lost his wife.
The game itself couldn't be decided in regulation time and needed an overtime winner from Stars defenceman Chris Zarb.
Sheffield Steelers 13 Edinburgh Capitals 2
The Steelers entered this game on the back of three straight losses, the first of which lost them the league championship. It was inevitable that they'd come out strong and with this being the case, it was unfortunate that playoff chasing Capitals were in the firing line.
The Steelers ran riot scoring 13 goals in total, with lots of multi point nights for forwards and defencemen alike. Jeff Legue scored 3+5, Mike Ramsay scored 3+1 (including the game winner), Luke Fulghum got 2+3, Jonathan Phillips got 1+4 and Steve Birnstill picked up 4 assists.
Sunday 25th March
Cardiff Devils 4 Coventry Blaze 3
With league positions now finalised this game served as a taster for the playoff match up between these teams. The game was feisty with both the Devils and Blaze trying to set the tone early. This culminated in a first period fight between Chris Frank and Bryan Jurynec.
The Devils took the league points with a 4-3 win, thanks to a game winning goal from Phil Hill, but neither coach will take much from the scoreline as the playoff match up will be a brand new season for both teams.
Edinburgh Capitals 11 Fife Flyers 3
This game was the last of the season for both teams, with each having missed out on this season's playoffs. As a result, it was expected to be a 'dead rubber' contest. In fact, the game was the complete opposite as emotions consistently boiled over throughout. Over 300 penalty minutes were given out during the game, with 11 fighting majors, 8 game misconducts and 1 match penalty as players settled season long scores and re-ignited the long standing rivalry between the teams.
The scoreline was a mere sub-plot with the Capitals winning 11-3. Player coach Richard Hartmann scored the game winning goal, whilst British forward Bari Mckenzie scored 3+1.
Hull Stingrays 6 Dundee Stars 2
With both teams' league positions settled and playoff spots secure, this game was used for coaches to run through final systems before the playoffs begin.
The Stingrays ran out winners, with a game winning goal from Dominic Osman, while Jereme Tendler picked up a 5 point game with 3+2.
Sheffield Steelers 4 Braehead Clan 5
This was a game where building for the playoffs was the sole purpose and the Clan will be happier with their performance. Missing key import Jordan Krestanovich and player-coach Drew Bannister, the Clan scored a game winnner from Mike Wirll with just three seconds remaining.