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Weekend Preview – Week 12

WEEK 12 of the 2023/24 Elite Ice Hockey League season and it starts this midweek with the visit to the Auld Barn of the Guildford Flames in Challenge Cup action. On the weekend the Flyers make their second trip of the season to play the Manchester Storm before returning home for a Sunday tilt against the Sheffield Steelers who will be making their first visit of the season to Fife.

WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 6th  v GUILDFORD FLAMES @ FIFE ICE ARENA – FACE OFF 7.30pm

Recent Form Guide

The Flames and Flyers of course met just a few days ago for their third meeting in the Elite League this season. So far the match ups have gone the way of the home team with both putting up a shutout on home ice and the Flames winning the other game 5-2. Flyers and Flames finished second in their respective qualification groups with Flyers winning 3 of their 6 games and the Flames winning 4 of their 8 games. Each team had a win percentage of 0.50 and so the tie break rules were invoked to determine the seedings with the Flyers winning 50% of their games in regulation time and the Flames with one of their 4 wins in OT having the lower percentage at 38% – Flyers therefore gaining the higher seeded position. Flames opened their cup campaign with a 4-2 defeat at Cardiff. Their next two were at home where they recorded a 3-2 win against the Blaze before the Devils took another two points from them with a 6-3 victory. Flames shipped another six goals in their next outing in Coventry with just one in reply. A pair of home games saw them beat the Blaze again 5-2 but once again the Devils took the spoils on their way to topping the group. The final two fixtures saw an overtime win in Coventry and then in a “dead rubber” game in Cardiff the Flames finally got one over the Devils in a wild 7-5 game.

Number Crunching

This will be the first time that these two teams have met in the Challenge Cup competition.

The other two current EIHL teams that the Flyers have yet to meet in the competition are the Coventry Blaze and the Manchester Storm.

This will be Flyers 52nd home game in the Challenge Cup – their record stands at Won 24 Drawn 1 Lost 26 with 152 goals scored and 149 conceded.

The Dundee Stars and Belfast Giants, who are perennial group opponents, have been the most frequent visitors having each played at the Auld Barn 14 times.

Flyers have met the following teams in the quarter finals:

2012/13 – Nottingham Panthers, 2013/14 – Cardiff Devils, 2014/15 – Nottingham Panthers, 2015/16 – Sheffield Steelers, 2017/18 – Belfast Giants, 2021/22 – Sheffield Steelers, 2022/23 – Dundee Stars

In seasons 2011/12, 2016/17, 2018/19 and 2019/20 the Flyers failed to qualify for the quarter finals.

Pic Credit Jillian McFarlane and Derek Young

SATURDAY DECEMBER 9th  v MANCHESTER STORM @ PLANET ICE ALTRINCHAM – FACE OFF 7.00pm

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Since the Flyers last game against the Storm the Manchester side have played two league games, both against the Glasgow Clan where they returned one point following a 4-3 overtime defeat at Braehead before going down last weekend on home ice 4-2. They also completed their Challenge Cup group fixtures losing for the 4th time to the Sheffield Steelers who they are due to meet in quarter final action this midweek. Heading into that game the Storm have a season high five game losing streak active. They have the fewest powerplay goals scored per game of all ten teams and only the Coventry Blaze have conceded more goal on the penalty kill.

Last League Visit to Storm

Overall Elite League Away Record Against Storm

P 23 W 9 L 14 F 69 A 83

Number Crunching

The Storm scored their fastest goal of the season when the Flyers last visited, Loren Ulett netting after just 10 seconds.

The Flyers have lost on their last two visits to Altrincham – the last five meetings between the sides has seen the result go the way of the home team.

The Storm are the only active EIHL team that the Flyers have not yet had a hat trick scorer against.

The teams are tied at 24 wins apiece in all EIHL competitions with the Flyers having scored four more goals total despite giving up an average of 2 more shots per game to the Storm over that time.

The match up sees the two lowest scoring teams so far this season with Flyers averaging 2.64 goals per game and the Storm 2.38.

Pic Credit Manchester Storm

SUNDAY DECEMBER 10th v SHEFFIELD STEELERS @ FIFE ICE ARENA – FACE OFF 5.15pm

Recent Form Guide

The Steelers come into this weekend having spent most of the last two months at the top of the league standings. They have lost only two games to date and across all EIHL competitions they lead the league with four shutouts in their 19 games and of course blanked the Flyers in the only meeting of the teams so far this season. In all EIHL competitions they have a leading low goals per game against of 1.47 and also a best goals for per game of 4.1. Sheffield have scored 16 goals on the powerplay which once again leads all teams as most per game so far this season. They have most shots on goal per game and fewest shots against per game.

Since that 5-0 win against the Flyers on October 22nd the Steelers have played six league games, beating the Blaze and Giants at home before the Clan won at the Utilita Arena. A 6-2 win at Guildford was followed last weekend with a 6-4 win in Dundee and a shutout on the road at the Giants last Sunday night.

In midweek the Steelers are due to meet the Manchester Storm in the first leg of their Challenge Cup Quarter final. Storm were in the Steelers qualification group and Sheffield won all four meetings, outscoring Manchester 20-7 on their way to securing the top seed with a 100% record.

Last League Visit from Steelers

Overall Elite League Home Record Against Steelers

P 27 W 7 L 20 F 64 A 102

Number Crunching

The Steelers have blanked the Flyers in each of their last three meetings. This is the first time in any era that a team has recorded three consecutive shutouts against Fife.

The last time the Steelers visited Kirkcaldy the game was decided by a shootout after 65 minutes without a goal for either side. The second such time that season and indeed all time that the Flyers had been involved in a goalless game after overtime.

Shane Owen saved 50 shots in that game – a record for most saves for a Flyers goalie shutout.

Steelers have won on their last three visits to Fife in the league with the Flyers last win coming on 2nd March 2022 with goals from Kyle Thacker, Brandon Magee, Jonas Emmerdahl and a double from Jacob Benson securing a 5-3 win.

Pic Credit Jillian McFarlane and Derek Young
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