Braehead Clan full roster?

Braehead Clan may or not have completed their roster with the signing of Matt Towe (couple of two way signings may yet follow) but they really seem to have upped the ante this season under new coach Ryan Finnerty and Ass coach Kevin Bergin.

From the back with netminder Kyle Jones all the way to the front, Clan have a tough, agile, flexible team with speed and skill to boot. Other than the new coaching team, a major coup was the return of Ash Goldie, didn’t see that happening to be honest after the debacle which was last season.

Clan have a sturdy group of brits and Matt Haywood will only continue to improve in his 4th season with the Clan, Aidan Fulton and Craig Mitchell both gain full time contracts having been on 2 ways last season with the ever present Mike Will as back up goalie for a 4th season (how much longer clan can keep this talented lad, I do not know).

I really like the look and balance of the clan roster this season,  it’s young and strong and many are used to playing multiple roles on ice which means shots on goal and of course, a defence in front of Kyle Jones, unlike his unlucky predecessors last season.

How will Clan do this time out?

On paper they should win the Gardiner Conference at a canter but I said that last year lol! But this time around, experienced non playing coach and his hard philosophy on toughness and fitness… better than last year.

Nottingham Panthers may struggle to repeat last years treble as the Sheffield Steelers look to be strong in all areas so far with Doug Christianson assembling an excellent side. Belfast Giants may find themselves treading water this time around.

Cardiff Devils seem to be heavy on the D and may lack the firepower up front to make a major impact.

Coventry Blaze? Hmm write them off at your peril! No idea how they will do!

In the Gardiner Conference I can’t see Hull Stingrays challenging too much, unlike other teams, they have stayed with the same formula whilst other teams have gone with flexibility.

I don’t see Edinburgh Capitals or Fife Flyers making a major impact dude to budget issues (sorry folks but that is the way I see it)

Dundee Stars will, I think, be the team to compete with Braehead Clan this season, although,,,, coach Jeff hutchins has tweeted recently that players should get real about demands as it is mid august, a sign here is having problems getting a team together.

Soo the clan? Sticking my neck out and reckon 4th place in league, play off finals and challenge cup finalists.

Braehead Clan Gardiner Conference Champions 2012/13

Didn’t really think I’d be saying that six weeks ago despite some positive thinking!!

Friday night Braehead Clan came back from 3-1 down to clinch the win for the second week in a row against the Dundee Stars and leave the Stars with the daunting task of beating Edinburgh Capitals both home and away, a task that ultimately proved beyond them.

Clan went into Saturday nights match against Fife Flyers knowing losing would not mean the end of the campaign and fortunately that was the case as a lacklustre performance saw them lose 4-1. Biggest cheer of the night came at 11.11 in the third period when Flyers scored their fourth and Clan fans went into raptures as the news came through that Stars had lost,  confirming Clan as Gardiner Conference Champions.

Surreal to say there least!

So what does this mean for Clan?

A two leg quarter final again Cardiff Devils. To be honest, I’d rather play Devils than Capitals, who are in the ascendency or Flyers who are always hard to beat as Saturday showed.

A lot of moaning and groaning about playing the fire leg at home but it means Clan will be freshest over the two legs so in our favour and also ensure the large home crowd possible.

I’m going for clan to just edge it over the weekend and makeup the playoffs weekend in Nottingham for the first time!

Clan know what they need to do

On Tuesday, Clan had four must win games left, they won the first two and then, hmmm if Hull Stingrays beat Dundee Stars.. they *only * needed to beat Stars.

Sadly for Clan,  Stingrays went into meltdown tonight and lost 5-0.

This means Clan require to beat Stars at home on Friday at home and then win away at Fife Flyers on Saturday. Not an easy ask.

The displays against Flyers (5-1) and Stars (6-3) do give some reason for optimism though, more cohesive play, positive offence, better defence and playing as a team was great to see for the first time this season. They played like they wanted to compete and win, great to watch!!

Players of note over the two games,  the ever present Haywood gave his all as always,  Zajac stepped up, McPherson is looking fantastic on the boards and Farmer, Goldie and Schepke are looking awesome.

With Daren Machesney away for a career interview, Mike Will stepped in against the Stars and did a brilliant job, great to see him get the W!! I for one have no worries about him taking his place in front of the pipes. Very capable young man and one for the future!

So what of next weekend?

Well, based on the last two performances, Braehead Clan have every chance of doing what a few weeks ago was almost unthinkable, winning the Gardiner Conference. Coach Paul Gardner seems to have found a way to get the players motivated and long may that continue!

Nottingham Panthers 2013 EIHL League Champions

Nottingham Panthers were tonight crowned EIHL League Champions after a thrilling 5-3 win over Belfast Giants in Belfast.

Congratulations to Neil Black, Corey Neilson and all involved at Panthers IHC, a much deserved win goes to the best, hungriest and most consistent team this season!!

Clan 5-1 Flyers

Was a bit nervous about this one to say the least, but, the real Braehead Clan I love and know stood up and were counted.

OK this was by far a polished performance but they played like a team and that’s why they won.

Amazingly clan got two short handed goals in the same match!!! Also, despite being outshot 39 – 28, they pulled off a convincing win, one that will hopefully be the one that gives them the filip to their confidence and they go on to win the remaining three games of the season and win the Gardiner Conference.

A few weeks ago that thought was unthinkable, now, it’s entirely possible and if it happens it will be an amazing turnaround to a woeful season.

Paul Gardner must be wondering how he is going to ensure this team shows up for the next three games and gets to the playoffs. At least the reaction from the team at the end of the night showed some joint emotion and passion, something to work on methinks.

MOM was deservedly Daren Machesney who played a blinder and provided a lovely moment when mascot Clangus had to stop him leaving the ice as he had to enter the centre of the winning circle to lead the celebration, guess he forgot what to do when Clan win!!

Onwards to Saturday now against Dundee Stars,  again a must win, will Clan do it? Come along and find out!

Clan lose out to Giants

Braehead Clan 2 – 6 Belfast Giants tonight at Braehead Arena.

The loss was widely expected but to outshoot your opponents and lose by the above score hurts big time.

Got to feel for Mike Will who was hung out to dry by the defence for the sixth goal after Machesney was pulled after the fifth goal. Terrible defending most of the night it has to be said.

Can’t really fault the team for effort but quite simply it was just not enough on a night where the Giants needed the win tonight keep their title challenge hopes alive.

Schepke got MOM and given his checks, probably deserved but my MOM was Matt Haywood, the man who gives everything and more every single game.

Four games to go in the season now and Clan are up against it regards making the playoffs. Fife home and away plus stars at home twice looks good on paper but, given our record v Gardiner Conference teams it is fraught with difficulties for a clan team misfiring week to week.

My own reckoning is that Clan need to beat Stars twice and Fife once to win the Conference and so qualify as second seeds, anything less will see Clan finish outside the top eight in the Elite League and not even a shot at qualifying for playoff weekend.

Paul Gardner needs to get the players motivated for the match against Fife Flyers on Wednesday and get the win or the season is over.

Mon the Clan!!!!!

Stars 3-0 Clan

It didn’t happen, nothing good to talk about re Braehead Clan.

Yet another loss and the playoffs are getting farther away with each match.

You would think a forward lineup including Galbraith, Krestanovich, Schepke, McPherson, Watt, Haywood, Goldie, Hartmanis etc would manage more than one goal in 120 mins eh? Yeah so would I, but, this is the Braehead Clan we are talking about.

Losing to Dundee Stars means the season is all but over. Very sad but true.

That’s all, glass of vino calapso beckons.