IIHL – The Season So Far

So it’s that time of year were all leagues around the globe are starting to build up to an exciting climax. Here in Ireland the Irish Ice Hockey League (IIHL) has returned for its second year and is heading for a close finish so Martin Grant takes a look at the season so far.

Nobody can say that the Irish Ice Hockey League hasn’t been exciting stuff, with the league been played in two rinks this year, the home of the IIHF World Championships Div 3 2007, the Dundalk Ice Dome and training rink for the Coors Belfast Giants, the Dundonald Ice Bowl. With these two rinks hosting the IIHL, things are slowly getting better. This year saw two new teams entering the IIHL, the Belfast Giants & the Dublin Wolves, and both were welcomed by the IIHA and the other teams. And the future is looking bright for the IIHL, as it has emerged that the Drogheda Ice Breakers will be entering a team into the IIHL next season. Any other teams who have an interest in joining either the IIHL or IIHL Recreation Division next season should contact mickhiggins@iiha.org.

The standard of officiating has increased, with William Fay dedicating his time and effort into establishing the best officials in Ireland, appointing young officials, men and women. Recently, four IIHL Officials’ received their ‘C’ Officiating Licences from the IIHF. Anybody interested in becoming a referee, linesman or becoming involved in officiating in any other way should contact williamfay@iiha.org. While anyone interested in volunteering as an Off Ice Official should contact deankelly@iiha.org.

There have been 30 games played in the IIHL as of now, 340 goals scored with a total of 1800 minutes of Ice Hockey action played. The Dundalk Bulls currently have the largest scoring win of the season so far, with the Bulls winning 23-1 versus the Dublin Wolves on the 24th January 2009. There has yet to be a game were the scoring has been 0-0, which is good to see as it means every team is getting the puck in the net. There has only been 1 game so far that finished even scoring. The Dundalk Bulls took on the Latvian Hawks on the 8th November, and with 60 minutes of action played, nothing could separate these two teams, each coming away with 6 goals a piece. The Bulls have continued were they left off last season and are churning out consistent results. Just like last season they’ve scored more goals than any other team as they continue their all out attack approach to every game.

The Latvian Hawks took a new look roster to the IIHL this season. They’ve won 7 of their 8 games and tied 1. The Latvian Hawks are giving the Dundalk Bulls a run for their money this season. They are the only real contenders for the Bulls’ league title and it will go right to the wire. However, the other teams like the Dublin Rams and Belfast Giants have been mixing things up and doing their best to halt either the Bulls or Hawks. They’ll also look to the Playoffs were they can really cause an upset. The Rams like last season have been the team with the best chance of upsetting the big two. They ran the Hawks close in their opening game of the season with a 3-1 loss. They also forced the Bulls to fight hard for their 4-2 win a few weeks ago. New to the IIHL, the Giants have skated very well with all the teams in the league and have taken the good with the bad. They’ve enjoyed wins against the Flyers, Wolves and Rams but they’ve suffered tough loses against the Wolves and Rams. However, they have suffered some big loses at the hands of the Bulls and the Hawks.

The other new team to the IIHL this season, the Dublin Wolves, have given the league their best shot. They’ve won and lost against Flyers and Giants with loses coming against the Bulls, Hawks and Rams. They’ve been a great addition to the league and have spiced things up. The Flyers I.H.C. haven’t had a good season at all in the IIHL. They’ve struggled to get a team together for games, a problem that all of the teams have experienced except the Bulls and Hawks. They’ve also missed some key players but true to their style, they’ve worked hard and have given the big teams a run for their money. They’ll look to next season to improve on their one win against the Wolves.

The IIHL is in full swing and all the teams are competing with each other which makes for interesting viewing. So get down to the Dundalk Ice Dome and Dundonald Ice Bowl to watch some Ice Hockey Action.

Photograph courtesy of www.derektuitephotography.ie

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