The Monday After: Four into two won’t go
Four in two will not go there
It's a great weekend for all kinds of reasons, nothing more than GB taking its first steps in the winter Olympic qualifications for Beijing 2022, but at the foot of the table Elite League a huge couple of days are in the offing.
Over the weeks and months, we have seen four teams find themselves in a scrap for the last two places in the play-offs and it is a battle that will certainly intensify during the next few weeks as matches run out
But who can rise above the dreaded black line and take a place in the end-of-season show and deliver the last two to a summer of misery?
The three Scottish clubs – Glasgow Clan Dundee Stars and Fife Flyers – with Manchester Storm find themselves involved in an aerial combat which will not fail to go the distance while they seek to obtain the points on the table which will see them beyond the line.
In one of the most competitive Elite League campaigns for years, we really see something quite intriguing at the bottom of the list and it's hard to get hard call exactly who will be the happiest of the last four.
As things stand, the situation looks grim for Fife Flyers with 25 points on the board and no win in 14, tying an EIHL club record since their first campaign in 2011.
They are seven points behind Dundee, above them in ninth and eight behind Manchester, who are in the utopia of play-offs. You watch them winning a series of victories to even approach them, let them do it.
The form in the past five months suggests that this will not happen and with only one point to display for their last 14, the Flyers seem to be missing the boat.
The Dundee Stars take points and, even if they stay outside, worry the teams just above them. In their last 13 games, they have won eight and are making progress.
Defeating Glasgow Clan on penalties is another important scorer as Omar Pasha strives to reach the bottom eight for the first time since leaving for Scotland almost three years.
One point above them with a game in hand are Manchester Storm and yet another team that has garnered big points in unlikely places, but doing enough to keep the nose in front.
Last week’s shutout win over Dundee gave them an advantage and a point from the weekend just held them in front of the Stars and February will be an interesting month for them, with six of their nine games to come against the three Scottish teams.
Then there is Glasgow Clan who started the season so well under Zack Fitzgerald and the combination of injuries to key players and poor form that left them in that position.
They have an advantage, but a loss of penalty shootout against Dundee on Saturday means they have to beat Storm on Saturday in their only game of the weekend.
With the other higher teams all taking a weekend, the focus will be on the progress of this dam battle and it will be interesting to see where we will be next Monday.
As it stands, four could be three soon enough and from that point on, it really goes over time. Don't take your eyes off him for a second.
GB targeting the Olympic trek
In recent years, this British team led by Pete Russell has propelled the team and the nation to new heights at the World Championships. And what a turn it was.
Later this week, it’s the start of a new campaign, with qualification for the Beijing Winter Olympics as a target for GB, with Estonia, the Romania and Hungary when they all meet in Nottingham.
The motto of this team was "to dare to dream" and it is certainly more positive than the unofficial "we are *** and we know we are" they endorsed joking after surviving a bitter campaign at the World Championship last year.
But daring to dream is certainly a good attitude if they can reach their first games since St Moritz in Switzerland in 1948. My God, think how good it will be.
Of course, this is only the first hurdle and another qualifying group awaits in August, if Pete Russell and his team get out of it.
So good luck to Pete and all the players in what could be another big week for British ice hockey.