Happy New Year. Welcome to the Hangar for our New Year’s Day special against the Swindon Wildcats. We finished 2011 on Friday at the Link Centre and tonight we start the New Year against the Wildcats.
I hope everyone had a great Christmas, enjoyed the break from work, school and college, and got loads of great presents. I hope everyone had a great night celebrating the New Year last night and I hope 2012 is a successful year for all of you.
The second half of the season is always traditionally the more exciting part. There’s the league title wide open for at least three teams, there’s a bit of a gap forming at the bottom of the table between Telford, Peterborough, Basingstoke and Bracknell. There’s 10 teams fighting for 8 play-off spots and I honestly believe the top 8 as they are will qualify and it’ll be Peterborough and Telford who miss out. That said, neither the Phantoms nor Tigers will be happy with that prediction, I am sure that games for every team against those bottom two opponents will be tough in the second half.
While the Elite League had a turbulent first half of their season the EPL has enjoyed one of the most competitive first halves of the season for a long time. There was a lot of excitement pre-season surrounding Sheffield and Bracknell in particular and how much they’d progressed. Credit to Sheffield, they have put up a real challenge in the first half of the season and while I’m not a fan of his style of play Andre Payette has clearly worked hard in Yorkshire. After a sprightly start against us before we hit form Bracknell have settled back to more or less where I thought they’d be. The one surprise for me is Basingstoke. I honestly didn’t think they’d be down fighting for the last play-off spot.
There’s just over half the season left now and a lot can change in the remainder of the regular season. We have had an impressive run into the turn-around including a massive 9-0 shut-out of the Phoenix. Doug has done a great job in harnessing the talents of the players into a winning team meaning we entered the turn-around with 36 points from 26 games, second only to the massively fancied Guildford Flames.
Let’s get down to action tonight. While I hope everyone enjoyed their celebrations last night I’m also hoping that you’re all recovered enough to be loud and proud to start the Hangar rocking for 2012.
Enjoy the game
My team, your team, OUR TEAM