Ice Hockey

The Elite Ice Hockey League: An introduction

Written by Kris Jack.

THE Elite Ice Hockey League faced off for the 2013/14 season last weekend, and for the Scottish sides involved, it was the beginning of another chance for them to prove their worth in the top UK league for the sport. The EIHL has been dominated by three teams in recent times, current Champions Nottingham Panthers, their bitter rivals Sheffield Steelers and the much adorned Belfast Giants. However, in the last few years, with the inception, invitation and inclusion of more Scottish sides, the game in this country has somewhat flourished.

For the uninitiated, here's a rough guide to how things are panning out in Scotland at the minute...

With Edinburgh Capitals and Dundee Stars having been involved in the EIHL for a number of years, the formation of Braehead Clan in 2010 opened the doors to a broader audience in the Glasgow and Paisley Area. With the side automatically going in to the EIHL, it's positioning caught the eye of fans of older and defunct Scottish teams from the west of Scotland like the Paisley Pirates and the Ayr Eagles. An impressive first year showing showed glimpses that The Clan could become a sustainable attraction for both the die hard and occasional hockey fan in the west.

Then, in 2011, Newcastle Vipers went under financially, opening up a slot in the EIHL that was filled by Scotland's oldest Ice Hockey side, Fife Flyers. With four Scottish teams now plying their trade in the Elite League, Scottish crowds began to grow, as did the rivalries amongst them. At the start of the 2012-13 season, it was announced that the EIHL would split itself in to two divisions, the Erhardt and the Gardiner Conferences. the Erhardt was to be contested between the Panthers, Giants, and Steelers, plus the Coventry Blaze and Cardiff Devils. The Gardiner would prove to be a predominantly Scottish division, consisting of The Clan, The Stars, The Flyers, The Capitals and, rather bizarrely, Hull Stingrays. The common sense approach would have been to make it an all Celtic division, swopping out the Humberside club for Belfast, but it was deemed that the Stingrays would be lumped in with the Scottish sides.

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Paul Gardner: Ladislav Benysek will energise Braehead Clan

Written by David Coates.

BRAEHEAD CLAN head coach Paul Gardner reckons new signing Ladislav Benysek will help energise his squad as they push for a Conference title.

The 37-year-old Czech Defenseman is set to make his Clan debut in the first of a home double header against Coventry Blaze on Friday night.

He arrives with a wealth of experience having played over 150 games in the NHL for the Minnesota Wild.

And Clan head coach Paul Gardner believes Benysek will give them more strength in depth.

He said: “It will give us one more solid Defenseman to help get the puck out of our end.

“We have been going with four or five Defenseman especially since Tim Wedderburn left.

“Guys are getting tired at the end of games. Now having Ladislav back there will give us that sixth Defenseman.

“Hopefully it will make us more rested coming into games.

“Especially this weekend where we have three games in three nights.”

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