Ice Hockey: Durham stung

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DURHAM WASPS, the Premier Division champions, missed the start of the Heineken League at the weekend for the best of reasons. As title-holders they were playing in the European Cup, which was hosted by Britain for the first time.

Playing at Blackburn because their own rink lacks the required plexiglass, they made a bright start before experiencing the darker side of the game. An opening 9-2 victory over the Spanish champions, Txuri Urdin, raised their hopes, but the strength of Steaua Bucharest, of Romania, and Norway's Valerengen, was too much, Wasps losing 6-3 and 6-2 respectively.

The match against Valerengen was interrupted for 20 minutes after only seven minutes' play when the referee had to order both sides to their dressing-rooms to cool off after a brawl.

Valerengen progressed to the next stage but Wasps had the consolation of finishing third in the round-robin tournament, the best British result since the mini leagues came in four seasons ago.

Domestically, Humberside Seahawks were the Premier side off to a flyer. Tight defence against Whitley Warriors after Claude Dumas opened the scoring for Warriors helped them to a 10-3 win. The next day they were at Cardiff Devils, where away wins are few and far between, but after Stephen Cooper put the Devils ahead, Whitley reeled off seven goals to open a 7-1 lead, eventually winning 8-5.

Bracknell Bees' 2-0 win over Fife Flyers was remarkable only in that this was the lowest score in the Premier Division in 10 years since the inception of the League. Flyers lacked punch up front, but Bees were unable to capitalise.

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