Scots in the mix for play-offs

By Craig AndersonBBC Scotland
The ice hockey season is drawing to an exciting close

Braehead Clan, Fife Flyers and Edinburgh Capitals clinched their places in the Elite Ice Hockey League play-offs, but Dundee Stars missed out.

In a weekend dubbed "Clash of the Tartans", Dundee's 3-2 loss to Edinburgh confirmed Braehead as the Gardiner Conference champions, despite their 4-1 defeat by Fife.

For the Tayside men, it's a case of what might have been as they squandered a 3-1 lead at Clan to go down to Paul Gardner's side.

Ryan Watt's ejection from the game led to powerplay goals from Doug Krantz and Mike Wirll, but Braehead responded.

Ash Goldie, Steve Birnstill and Brock McPherson all scored, but Birnstill's second minutes from the end sealed victory.

Dundee needed to win their last two matches against Edinburgh to claim a play-off place and to win the Gardiner Conference, if Braehead lost at Fife on Saturday.

Despite Braehead's 4-1 defeat, they were confirmed as the inaugural Gardiner Conference champions.

Kris Hogg, John Dolan, Todd Dutiaume and Derek Keller all scored as Fife outclassed the Clan in their final match of the season.

Belfast Giants' win in the Erhardt Conference means there won't be an all-Scottish quarter final, with the Northern Irish side set to face Edinburgh over two legs next week.

Further to that, Braehead Clan take on Cardiff Devils, with the first leg at home. Fife Flyers, meanwhile, have a tricky affair with Elite League champions Nottingham Panthers.

Braehead Clan coach Paul Gardner: "It was pretty surreal to lose the game on Saturday, but come out with the Conference title. We've achieved what we set out to do.

"We talked about getting four wins to win the Conference and we only needed three so I'm proud of my guys and everyone involved."

Fife Flyers assistant coach Danny Stewart said: "Our last three games were do or die for us and our players delivered when it mattered.

"It's quite an achievement to do it in only our second year in this league and this means the world to our coach, Todd Dutiaume, after the year he's had on a personal level."

Edinburgh Capitals player-coach Richard Hartmann said: "When I first came here, we had to stabilise the club and get it back on track after almost going out of business two years ago.

"But it's down to everyone's hard work at the club that we've reached the play-offs. As a coach, it can be hard to be their friend one minute then give them hell the next."

Dundee Stars coach Jeff Hutchins said: "Obviously, that's not the way we wanted to end the season, but it's been tight and I'm gutted for everyone involved with the club.

"To go down to the final weekend and lose the way we did is hard to take, but we'll dust ourselves down and look ahead to the next season."

Elite League play-off fixtures:

Nottingham Panthers v Fife Flyers

Belfast Giants v Edinburgh Capitals

Braehead Clan v Cardiff Devils

Sheffield Steelers v Coventry Blaze

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