Braehead Clan forward Matt Haywood wants a quick start against Edinburgh Capitals this weekend as his team look to secure the Gardiner Conference title.
Riley Emmerson’s team will finish rock bottom of the Elite League and have shipped 41 goals in their last four matches, but Haywood remains wary of the Caps’ forward lines, who he believes are still capable of causing problems.
He said: “These are two must-win games and we have to come out of the traps flying. Despite the season they’ve had, Edinburgh have good offensive players that can score goals.
“If our defensive game isn’t fully working, they can hurt us. It won’t be treated any differently to any other team in the league.
“The Gardiner Conference is what we have to achieve now as we start to get ready for the play-offs.
“Winning it will give us a higher seeding and these two games against Edinburgh are massive for us as we close in on what we want to do.”
Haywood was part of the team that played in the 2014 play-off finals, eventually securing third place after beating Fife Flyers in the play-off game.
He admits he’d love to play in Nottingham in that situation again, but refuses to look beyond the task at hand this weekend.
“The play-off finals were something special and it was a great experience to play in,” added Haywood.
“I feel if we can get there, turn up and play the way we know we can, we can definitely have a chance of winning it.
“However, we just don’t know how it’s going to play out with the seedings. The league has been incredibly tight so we know every quarter final will be a hotly contested fixture.
“It’s something I would love to do again, but we can’t think of that just now. Our focus is on Edinburgh and getting the points that will hopefully win us the Conference.”
Clan Assistant Coach Richard Hartmann says losing to the Capitals in either of the two games this weekend would be a disaster.
“This is a great opportunity for us to end the season by winning it after an up and down season at times so everyone is geared up for the two games,” said Hartmann.
“Edinburgh Capitals have had a terrible time and knowing their coach Riley Emmerson, he will be desperate to end the season with a win and snap the losing run they’ve been on.
“They’ll be preparing for us in the same way so it’s not something we’ll take easily. A team on a winless run can be dangerous on any night and we’ll be ready for them.
“Winning these two games is hugely important and we have to do whatever it takes to make sure of that.”
(Image permission: Al Goold Photo)