While we pass the time in the absence of ice hockey by re-living old games and sharing memories during the lockdown, we’ve been busy and wondered how the 2019/20 season could have ended. And we have a winner.
Our senior reporter, Craig Anderson joined forces with FreeSports broadcasting trio Aaron Murphy, Chris Ellis and Paul Adey and put their heads together to see how each game would finish, coming up with who would win the title and reach the play-offs.
British Ice Hockey can reveal, if the 2019/20 regular season had been completed, the winners would have been (drum roll please)…Cardiff Devils.
All four men predicted that Andrew Lord’s men had enough about them to take the title, with two of them predicting a late surge for Tim Wallace’s Nottingham Panthers side.
In the race for the play-offs, all four had Glasgow Clan in the top eight, but results varied with two going for Manchester Storm to be above the black line and Dundee Stars for the other two.
But after careful consideration, here’s how all four predicted the end to the season would go on a game-by-game basis, with the final column reflecting the consensus.
Craig Anderson’s verdict
Cardiff Devils would have finished the season strongly, but Coventry Blaze finishing in second would have meant a good end to the campaign and momentum would see them up there.
A mid-table Belfast Giants finish seems mean, but some tough games right at the end would have put them there and on paper, not the best of defences for the champions.
At the other end, Clan and Storm would have done just enough, but it would have meant another post season absence for Dundee Stars and Fife’s tricky schedule in the final weeks would have gone against them.
Aaron Murphy’s verdict
A seven-point gap for Cardiff would have opened up for Andrew Lord’s side and an overtime win for Panthers over the Devils on 21st March would have been the difference for Nottingham to come second.
Coventry would have won only two of their last six games – both against Fife – and that great form would have been undone in the final weeks, but would have saw them end the season in fifth.
The play-off would be much tighter, with Clan and Stars edging Storm in the end, with not many points picked up between the three of them, although Dundee getting an overtime win at Clan and beating Sheffield Steelers at home would give them the higher placing.
Chris Ellis’ verdict
A real tightly packed area between second and fifth would have been the outcome in the final games, which would have seen Nottingham Panthers edge Sheffield Steelers by two points.
Like Murph, Chris reckons Blaze would have stuttered to the end of the season and set up a really tough play-off quarter final with Belfast Giants, pipped to third by virtue of total number off wins by Steelers.
Manchester would have been out of the play-off race by a point, with Dundee and Glasgow finding a little bit of form to get them over the line at the expense of Ryan Finnerty’s side.
Paul Adey’s verdict
We would have seen a strong end to the regular season campaign for the Devils, taking 13 points out of their remaining 16, but Sheffield Steelers wouldn’t have been far behind, finishing four points behind them.
Panthers, Blaze and Giants would have been locked in a three-way battle for third, but it would have been Belfast ending as the lower of the three in the end.
Glasgow would have picked up in the final games to finish up six points clear in the play-off zone, with Manchester finding the results to get them into the top eight also.