Ice Hockey: Elite League Previews

All 10 of the Elite League teams are in either Challenge Cup or League action on Saturday night. Here are our previews of all five games taking place on Saturday night.

Manchester Storm v Braehead Clan

Manchester Storm have won four in a row since their opening match defeat in Sheffield, including last weekend’s impressive victory in Braehead. Omar Pacha’s side are brimming with confidence and will see this match as a great chance to gain ground on their Gardiner Conference rivals.

Braehead have struggled so far this term and are still waiting for their first victory of the 2016/17 campaign in all competitions. All though it is not panic stations yet for the Clan, a first win can’t come soon enough for Ryan Finnerty and his men.

Storm will be at full strength for the fixture while Braehead head coach Ryan Finnerty is expected to have the whole of his squad to pick from.

Fife Flyers v Edinburgh Capitals

Fife Flyers will be looking for a return to winning ways when Edinburgh Capitals head over the Forth to meet their old rivals.

Flyers coach Todd Dutiaume spoke strongly about his team perhaps believing their own hype after how the first couple of weekends panned out, but a new weekend means a new chance to get some points on the board.

Capitals picked up two great wins against Braehead on Sunday and Wednesday and now they’ve experienced that winning feeling, will be looking for more of the same in a tough venue like Fife Ice Arena.

It’s one fixture that rarely disappoints whenever these two get together and another highly competitive match awaits both these Scottish rivals.

Nottingham Panthers v Sheffield Steelers

Following a 12-goal thriller in South Yorkshire last weekend, arch rivals Nottingham and Sheffield are set to go head-to-head again on Saturday at the National Ice Centre.

Panthers coach Corey Neilson is hoping to have forward Stephen Schultz back in the lineup following a short period on the sidelines due to injury, while netminder Jindrich Pacl is also expected to be available if required after he was forced out of last Sunday’s game with a chest injury.

Former NHL forward Brian McGrattan is also expected to make his Panthers debut after receiving his visa earlier this week.

Sheffield are expected to be at full strength as they look to extend their winning streak to five games in all competitions.

Belfast Giants v Dundee Stars

Belfast and Dundee are set to meet for the second time in the space of a week, with Marc LeFebvre’s Stars side looking to over turn last Sunday’s 5-3 loss to the Giants and draw themselves level with the Northern Irish side at the top of Challenge Cup Group A.

The Giants moved two points clear of their Cup rivals courtesy of that victory in Dundee, with Jackson Whistle making his first appearance for the Giants, albeit only on the bench.

Belfast player-coach Derrick Walser says he is planning to manage the young goaltenders ice time carefully during the coming weeks, as Whistle continues to recover from offseason hip surgery, while former NHL defenceman Jim Vandermeer is also inching closer to a return.

Dundee will be without defenceman Cameron McGiffin for the game due to injury, with a decision to be made on whether recent arrival Mikael Lidhammar will feature.

Cardiff Devils v Coventry Blaze

Cardiff will be looking to extend their impressive run of form on home ice against a Blaze side keen to get back to winning ways following back-to-back defeats last weekend.

The Devils have outscored opponents 11-2 at Ice Arena Wales so far this season, with Joey Martin, Jake Morissette and Patrick Asselin all making strong starts to the league campaign, but the club remains winless in the Challenge Cup after defeats in Nottingham and Manchester.

Coventry head coach Danny Stewart said he did not feel that the Blaze played badly against either Sheffield or Manchester, but that there were areas for the club to work on following the two defeats.

Forward Matt Marquardt is set to return to the Blaze lineup after missing last weekend for personal reasons, with Stewart hoping to have a full squad available.

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