The Monday After: Stars out of this world
Stars out of this world
If you had told Omar Pasha that he and his team at Dundee Stars would qualify their Challenge Cup group with five wins out of six, he would have laughed at you before he pulled his arm out.
And that's exactly what happened after a four-point Challenge Cup weekend that allowed the Stars to qualify for the last eight places as group winners and having the possibility to choose their opponent in the quarterfinals.
Their record this year allows them to earn three more points than a year ago. While the league results have been a little disappointed, there is ample evidence that they could be in a better season.
They had six points in their first five games and qualified for the quarter-finals 12 months ago, while scoring six points in seven games, including three with reserves after overtime or loss penalty shots .
The stars had a tough time at the start of last season when they lost games after the 60th regulation and, even though scoring a point was something, they still remained losses.
The interviews with Pacha made you want to touch the screen and hug him while the frustration showed again not to be up to it.
Compare it to a year later and his smile tells you everything you need to know about the pride he's currently feeling in his team while they've got their eighth place with a game to spare.
Five wins out of six, winning all their away games and, as group winners, the opportunity to choose who they can play in the quarter-finals.
Not to mention the home win and victories over current league holders and champions, Belfast Giants, and you get what can only be described as a good start for the new campaign.
But what changed between the team that was short last season and the team that blitzed during the group stages and took a regular start?
I saw the Dundee Stars early in the season and I was impressed by their front lines, which displayed great speed, clinical benefit and a threat to the future.
I wanted to know more, so I asked a question on Twitter to find out what had changed in this team compared to last season and why it had been so successful so far.
While there were a few different reasons given in response, the major improvements seem to have been made to the goal, where Alex Leclerc has shown himself a formidable signature to the present.
Significant improvements within the defense team in particular and a more physical appearance on failure before as well as score markers were also noted, which is why the Stars are more before -gardistes.
We will have to wait for something else to know if this can be maintained for the rest of the season, but the signs are good. The stars of the playoffs after missing the last two years? I would not bet with the current form.
] Panthers and the storm feel the heat
While things are going well for the Dundee Stars and the Glasgow Clan, the Nottingham Panthers and the Manchester Storm are at the other end of the hierarchy and the atmosphere around fans of these clubs is not positive.
The two teams have a win in their last six outings and after another weekend of frustration for both teams, the meetings do not seem too favorable for the coming weeks.
It is important to remember that there is an imbalance in the Challenge Cup group: Storm only played three games and Steelers with five.
Moreover, in the league, two points separate the second from the bottom, so it is likely that we see scenarios in which two victories would allow the players to return to the height.
There have been a lot of changes in both clubs, so it's tempting to crush the teams, but we'll see a season like no other, and like their rivals EIHL, they'll have some ups and downs .
But the results will have to come soon and, even if, on paper, the upcoming matches will not be good, nothing says that they will not win and start to build a round. Have patience.
Great Week for the CHL
Of all the national events, it is hard to believe that the Champions Hockey League has invaded us again as Belfast Giants and Cardiff Devils prepare to join the euro party.
As the country plans to leave Europe by the end of October, Adam Keefe and Andrew Lord will seek to ensure that their sides are always involved.
Belfast does not seem to be up and unless they can beat Swede Lulea after both matches, his interest will only carry until the end of the group stage.
As for Cardiff, this is an extraordinary opportunity to upset another Swedish team from Frolunda, who happens to be the holder of the CHL. A victory will allow them to rank among the last 16.
It's not uncommon to beat one of the toughest players in the SHL, but doing it there will take a lot of effort and if they can reproduce their previous form, anything is possible.
Hopefully they will be able to carry the flag of the Elite League in this excellent competition.