Wasps' rise hints at another late charge

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The Independent Online
Sheffield Steelers and Cardiff Devils continued their two-horse race for the Premier Division title, both winning their two games at the weekend without too much trouble. But the team coming into form at the moment are Durham Wasps, who have overtaken Nottingham Panthers and moved into third place.

Having beaten Newcastle Warriors 9-5 in midweek, Durham travelled to Fife Flyers on Saturday. Durham led 6-3 when, at the end of the second period, they had Kim Issel dismissed for cross-checking. Iain Robertson, of Fife, received a 10-minute misconduct penalty plus minor penalties.

Wasps continued their dominance in the third period, scoring four goals without reply for a 10-3 win. In an ideal world, the match would have ended peacefully, but there was a doubtful check on Fife's Doug Marsden with a minute remaining. The referee, Jouni Lehtonen, awarded five game- misconduct penalties - four to Fife and one to Durham - and the game ended with a total of 213 minutes in penalties awarded.

The next day, Durham were at Milton Keynes Kings, who have won just five of 29 league games but have rattled the cages of the best. Once again, Milton Keynes let their concentration slip in the closing minutes.

They led 4-3 at the end of the second period but then let Stephen Johnson, Todd Bidner and Ross Lambert put Durham 6-4 up in the last six minutes. Milton Keynes scored a consolation goal when they pulled their net-minder, but they were disappointed once again. People who remember Durham's pattern of late-season surges are probably worrying already.