Important league games keep coming as Giants continue European quest

January 12, 2019 8:00 am

We have a full schedule of Elite Ice Hockey League fixtures tonight, plus Belfast in the Challenge Cup!

1800 Guildford Flames vs. Coventry Blaze (Tickets)

A point separates the Flames and Blaze as they kick off this weekend’s actions. Guildford beat Coventry when the sides met in Surrey much earlier this season in the Challenge Cup, and have won four of the six meetings between the sides over the past 18 months. The Flames have three wins from their last five at home, but had lost three in a row overall before beating Milton Keynes last weekend in overtime. Coventry have had excellent home form of late, and got a four point weekend last week with an away win in MK. They’ll give a debut this weekend to new goalie Matt Hackett.

It has been quite a while since we have seen Coventry and they have made several changes to their roster, including the addition of a top end goaltender, so they are a bit of different team.  None of that changes what we hope to do. We want to use our speed and forecheck hard to keep the pressure on them and try to create some quality scoring chances. If we can do that for 60 minutes, we have a good chance for success.” – Paul Dixon  (Head Coach, Guildford Flames)

Every game from now on is going to be crucial for us. This weekend, as well as looking at the playoff picture, it’s important for us because Guildford are conference rivals, which at the end of the season, is another trophy to be won. We will have our new netminder Matt Hackett playing his first two games, and we’re excited for that. The guys are ready and it should be a cracking weekend of hockey.” – Dayle Keen (Coventry Blaze, Bench Coach)

In numbers:

At home On road
Flames Blaze
Av. Goals For 3.22 2.93
Av. Goals Against 3.17 3.80
Win % 50.00% 33.33%

1900 Glasgow Clan vs. Cardiff Devils (Tickets)

When the Clan and Devils last met, the Scottish side knocked the Welsh out of the Challenge Cup in their own rink. Tonight it’s a meeting of two teams in form. The Clan have won seven of their last ten home games, while on the road Cardiff are the league’s best side and have won eight of ten – taking a point in all bar one of them. The Devils will welcome James Livingston to their lineup for this evening’s game.

This is a massive game for us. We know how good Glasgow are and remember too well what happened the last time we played them. They’re on a really good run of form right now and seem to just get better and better so we are well aware that this will be a very difficult game for us. We’ve had a good week of training in preparation for this trip and the addition of James Livingston is huge for us. He’s fitted in really well with the guys and I’m excited to see him play his first game for us in Glasgow.” – Andrew Lord (Head Coach, Cardiff Devils)

In numbers:

At home On road
Clan Devils
Av. Goals For 4.06 4.00
Av. Goals Against 3.12 2.25
Win % 58.82% 75.00%

 

1900 MK Lightning vs. Fife Flyers (Tickets | Webcast)

Both MK and Fife need the two points in this game for different reasons. The Lightning have dropped to nine points behind the playoff places with recent defeats, despite picking up points in Fife and Guildford, and winning in Dundee. The Flyers following their big loss at home to Cardiff are just two points ahead of the teams chasing in fifth and below. These teams met recently, the Flyers taking a last-minute winner in that midweek fixture in Kirkcaldy.

The last time we played Fife, it could have gone either way.  It was a tough loss for us to take, but we’ve tried to learn from it and move on. They have some top end skill in their line up that we need to be aware of.  We need to establish our home ice as a tough place to come and play.  We didn’t have a good showing in our last home game, so we need to be focused and ready to play our style of hockey.” – Tim Wallace (Player-Coach, MK Lightning)

In numbers:

At home On road
Lightning Flyers
Av. Goals For 2.50 3.31
Av. Goals Against 2.63 3.63
Win % 43.75% 31.25%

 

1900 Nottingham Panthers vs. Manchester Storm (Tickets)

With the Panthers losing last week at home to Fife and the after overtime in Manchester, Rich Chernomaz’s side six points behind top spot in the league having played five games more. They’ll be wanting a reaction at home to a Storm side that won 4-2 on their last visit to Nottingham. In fact the Storm have reason to head to the Motorpoint Arena confident, having beaten the Panthers in their last three meetings. Three points behind the playoff places having played a couple of games more, Manchester have also little room for dropping points.

We were expecting a tough game in Manchester and got it. We know what to expect from them and have had a full week to get ready.” – Guy Lepine (Defenceman, Nottingham Panthers)

In numbers:

At home On road
Panthers Storm
Av. Goals For 3.22 2.12
Av. Goals Against 2.78 3.94
Win % 61.11% 23.53%

 

1900 Sheffield Steelers vs. Dundee Stars (Tickets | Webcast)

Sheffield and Dundee both had disappointing weeks in Week 18. After an excellent spell between Christmas and New Year, the Steelers then lost three straight games, although they did pick up one overtime loss in last weekend’s double-header in Belfast. Those defeats have seen the team slip down to seventh in the table, three behind the Top 5 and only two above tonight’s visitors.

For Dundee a home defeat to Glasgow and an overtime loss to MK, both at home, came before a drubbing away to the Clan. They slipped out of the playoff positions and trail Coventry by a point. Having played three more games than the Blaze, the Stars are another team that have little room for error in the coming months. They have however not beaten the Steelers this season so far.

We have to find some consistency, we are playing well but not for 60 minutes and that is costing us. These two games against Dundee are must wins, we have to put daylight between the two clubs. We are prepared well, we have the bodies and the talent. We have no excuses.” – Jonathan Phillips (Captain, Sheffield Steelers)

In numbers:

At home On road
Steelers Stars
Av. Goals For 3.22 2.35
Av. Goals Against 2.94 3.71
Win % 61.11% 29.41%

 

1900 Continental Cup: Belfast Giants vs. GKS Katowice (Tickets | Webcast)

After their excellent start on Friday night against HC Gomel, the Giants face a known quantity in Katowice tonight. Belfast lost to the Polish playoff runners up in the Semi-Final stage, however the Giants had already qualified to the final round before that game. A win for the home side will set up a Sunday showdown to play for the trophy – a loss isn’t the end of it, but will make the maths a little more complicated.

I think it’ll be a tougher game (than vs. Gomel), and we lost to this team two months ago so we know it’ll be a harder task. I’m confident though that if we stick to our game plan we can be successful. Katowice lost last night so their backs are against the wall, as it was before, and it’s never easy to play a team in that position.” – Adam Keefe (Head Coach, Belfast Giants)

I was proud of my team’s performance against Arlan despite losing. It was a game where we battled and worked hard, but made mistakes that were capitalised on. We have to learn from that, and get better as we go on. We showed a lot of character last time we were here, but they’re a good team. If we beat Belfast then everybody could be level again – we’ll go in and give it our best shot.” – Tom Coolen (Head Coach, GKS Katowice)

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