BLOG: SNL sets for final flourish

BLOG: SNL sets for final flourish
Paisley Pirates and Kirkcaldy Kestrels have gone the distance in this SNL title race, but it looks like the latter will take the silverware as things stand (Photo by Al Goold)

Paisley Pirates and Kirkcaldy Kestrels have gone the distance in this SNL title race, but it looks like the latter will take the silverware as things stand (Photo by Al Goold)

SO the end of the road is finally here.

The SNL finishes this weekend, barring two outstanding league fixtures, and we’ll see who will be crowned the title winners possibly by Saturday night.

Kirkcaldy Kestrels look set to be the victors as they sit on the verge of successfully defending the title they won in dramatic circumstances last year.

This season, it’s had its dramas certainly, but it’s been more about holding their nerve to the end and that seems to be the case for the Fife men.

Although we have a fair idea of how things could pan out, only North Ayrshire Wild have their play-off position confirmed as they won’t finish any higher or lower than fourth.

But as we got into the final stretch, we saw four teams all in with a chance of taking the silverware when Edinburgh Capitals, Paisley Pirates and shock troops North Ayrshire Wild got involved.

It was a case of who would blink first and unfortunately for Wild, they went first, but the fact they were running out of games was also a factor in their near miss.

Edinburgh Capitals started the season so well as they slayed all before them, but as players started to miss matches and the bench was short, their struggles came to the fore.

This was a team that won the Grand Slam two seasons ago remember and at times, when it looked like they were back on track, they faltered again.

One reason why both these sides failed to take it to the end was the resurgent form of Moray Typhoons, who clawed themselves out of the abyss to clinch a play-off spot.

Then there were two as Paisley Pirates thrashed Kilmarnock Storm 19-0 in their game in hand to go level on points with the Kestrels last Sunday.

Pirates did their best to play down their title hopes as the weeks have gone on, but even they couldn’t deny the position they were in going into last Sunday’s game at the Caps.

A 6-5 loss at Murrayfield, although looks to be the killer blow, still gives them a chance mathematically, but they not only need a Kestrels loss on Saturday, they need a 15-goal swing to nick it by heavily beating Dundee Tigers on Sunday.

Which just leaves the Kestrels, who stuttered their way through the start of the season (three losses in their first seven fixtures) then blossomed from November (eight wins and a draw in nine) and haven’t look back.

Any sportsman will tell you winning a title is difficult enough, but to go on and retain it takes far more effort than the previous year.

If Kirkcaldy do it on Saturday, it will probably be much better than last year for that reason.

Plus if Fife Flyers can clinch the Gardiner Conference in the Elite League this weekend, which they can do by beating Manchester Storm and Braehead Clan lose to Dundee Stars, then it will be great weekend for ice hockey fans in that part of the world.

The local pubs and licenced establishments had better make sure they have plenty of champagne in just in case.

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Paisley Pirates and Kirkcaldy Kestrels have gone the distance in this SNL title race, but it looks like the latter will take the silverware as things stand (Photo by Al Goold)

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