This is exactly the type of game we’d hoped it could be tonight. Going into the last weeks of the season, we have a Cardiff side that know going unbeaten will see them win the league again; while Glasgow still have the chance of finishing third before the regular season is over. Neither team can afford to slip up here.
The Clan have lost a few games heading into this one, but that can also make them more dangerous. Not least because firstly they’re going to break the losing streak sooner or later, but secondly because sometimes when you haven’t won you just go back to basics and make sure you work hard. That makes them a tricky opponent despite recent results. The Clan know they’ll be in the playoffs, but I always think that going into the playoffs with wins under your belt helps confidence – certainly, you don’t want to be losing games going in to the Quarter-Finals. Pete Russell and his team obviously want to finish third and end the season as high as possible.
For the Devils this is one game they need. I’m sure they’d have pencilled it in on their schedule as one they really just have to win, and ultimately for this team they know what if they win all of their remaining games they lift the league trophy again. Some guys like this kind of pressure, they want to pushed and challenged and for some players it brings the best out of them.
On the ice, both teams have players having good seasons. The Clan have the likes of Matt Beca who produces good points, Rasmus Bjerrum, and Matt Stanisz on defence too. It’s a solid group of guys who seem to have an excellent team spirit which can take you a long way. Cardiff certainly have some big games players; the likes of Layne Ulmer and Sean Bentivoglio produce big goals and have been doing so for years. Then there’s Gleason Fournier who is having an incredible season.
And then on the benches there’s a lot of experience. Pete Russell is trying to turn things around in Glasgow this season and has done a great job with the side up battle for a place in the top three, while Andrew Lord is going for the ’three-peat’ having done a fantastic job with the Devils. They’re two proven coaches, which makes the matchup great – two winning coaches, two great teams. Cardiff might have a little more depth in numbers, but we’ll have to see in the game.
The games between these teams this season have all been pretty close. You kind of expect this to be a one-goal game, and quite possibly it could be one that goes to overtime or a shootout. It’s a good matchup, and at this time of the year has the addition of lots to play for.
Keys to the game:
Clan: They need to go back to basics, do the little things and know the rest will turnaround for them. Sometimes you think too much when you’re losing games, but you need to not over-think and just let your instincts take over.
Devils: It’s hard for them to not think more, but they’ve been in this situation before and know what they have to do. A lot of the players on the team have been there in previous seasons too, and know that ultimately they have to go out and perform well if they want to lift that league trophy.
While we’re in Glasgow in FreeSports, over in Dundee there’s a big matchup in the playoff race. It’s great that things are competitive all over the league, and it’s been a really exciting battle so far for that last playoff spot. One minute you think one team is getting ahead, but then the other teams come back with big wins, beat top teams in their own rink, and it’s close again. Don’t ask me to predict who will get that final place though – it changes almost every game!
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