Belfast Giants host Sheffield Steelers on Saturday for a game that both sides need to win if they’re to keep tabs on Elite League leaders Cardiff Devils.
Saturday’s match is the Giants’ first on home ice in almost a month, and having already lost twice in Sheffield this season defender Jim Vandermeer is looking forward to facing the Steelers in Belfast for the first of ten home games in the next four weeks.
“We’ve been practicing in Dundonald and on the road for the last month – we have such a beautiful rink and a great room – to not be using it is a shame, so it will definitely be good to get back playing in front of our fans,” said Vandermeer.
“When we’ve played them, I think we’ve played really well. We’ve had a couple of lapses five minutes long when it seemed like they scored on every chance they got.
“We need to tighten up and keep playing hard – that gives us the best chance.
“You are always playing games, so you are always in game mode – there’s no time to overthink things. I’d much prefer to play a bunch of games in a row – I believe we can get into a rhythm and I hope that happens.”
Nottingham Panthers head to Cardiff on Saturday hoping to end their miserable run of form.
Last Sunday’s 6-1 defeat at Sheffield was the Panthers’ ninth loss in their last eleven league games and Neilson has demanded an improvement this weekend.
“The performance in Sheffield was terrible, just awful,” he told the Nottingham Post. “No-one played well. We lost badly in Sheffield in the previous game there, but this was more disappointing.
“We’ve had some long, frank discussions this week. A big reset button has been pushed, but you can’t totally forget about a performance like Sunday.
“Sometimes you play poorly, but this wasn’t a bad day at the office. We’ve watched the video back and some players have individually been called out.
“We want this team to play with honour. We don’t want to see players diving. They have assignments and every part of the game is examined, but I want them to go out and play still.
“At the moment they aren’t dictating games and we need to see that.”
Mike D’Orazio believes Edinburgh Capitals need to find some consistency if they’re to climb away from the bottom of the table.
The Capitals visit Braehead Clan on Saturday before welcoming Fife Flyers to Murrayfield the following day as they look to bounce back from last weekend’s defeats against Cardiff and Belfast.
“We have spurts during games where we can compete with any team in this league,” D’Orazio told the Edinburgh Reporter.
“We do have a few games in hand, therefore we need to make the most out of this weekend. We’re going to create a plan and give ourselves the best chance of executing that plan.
“It’s all about being prepared with a system in place where everyone can get on the same page.”
Belfast Giants v Sheffield Steelers
Braehead Clan v Edinburgh Capitals
Cardiff Devils v Nottingham Panthers
Coventry Blaze v Dundee Stars
Fife Flyers v Manchester Storm
Cardiff Devils v Sheffield Steelers
Dundee Stars v Braehead Clan
Edinburgh Capitals v Fife Flyers
Manchester Storm v Belfast Giants
Nottingham Panthers v Coventry Blaze
(Image permission: Press Eye)