Elite League preview: Neilson eager for winning return

Nottingham Panthers’ boss Corey Neilson believes an improvement in the team’s injury situation will spark a return to winning ways in the Elite League.

The Panthers have lost six in a row in the league, but with home games against Belfast Giants and Fife Flyers this weekend Neilson is hoping for a change in fortunes.

“I think it all comes down to bodies – when we were winning at the start of the season we didn’t have too many injuries,” he told the Nottingham Post.

“Then we picked a number of injuries up and it hampered us. That isn’t an excuse – it’s just what the situation was and it’s something we’ve had to cope with.

“I think we’re a good hockey club when we have bodies available. When we don’t you’ve seen we’ve found it more difficult.

“When we were in Europe we had the support of a few more guys last weekend. That made a difference.

“I’ve not done anything overly different as a coach in the last few weeks. I’ve just given our physio a big hug, rather than the players.

“Like I say, it’s been a busy time for him but I’m pleased we’ve got a couple of bodies back. When we get more you’ll see us playing as we were at the start of the season hopefully.

“I think you’ll see us control the puck a lot more on Friday and we’ll be looking to get that win in front of our own fans.”

Fife welcome Braehead Clan to Kirkcaldy on Saturday aiming to banish the memories of their last two meetings in October.

Clan recorded comfortable victories in the league and cup, but Flyers’ defender Philippe Paquet believes his team will put up a better fight this weekend.

“They completely dominated us the last weekend we played against them,” Paquet told Fife Today.

“I think we’re a changed team though. We have that confidence going now, but we’ll have to definitely step up more than last time we played against them.

“It’s going to be a physical game and we have to show up physically if want to be in that game – otherwise they’ll just roll over us again.

“It’s important we make a stand and establish our physicality early and send a message that’s it going to be a battle for them too.

“Last time they neutralised us and maybe even intimidated us – so we have to respond.

“We have to play like we did against Coventry for the first two periods with our forecheck. That’s the key for us to have success.”

WEEKEND FIXTURES

Friday

Nottingham Panthers v Belfast Giants

Saturday

Coventry Blaze v Cardiff Devils
Fife Flyers v Braehead Clan
Manchester Storm v Belfast Giants
Sheffield Steelers v Edinburgh Capitals (Cup)

Sunday

Cardiff Devils v Sheffield Steelers
Dundee Stars v Manchester Storm
Edinburgh Capitals v Braehead Clan
Nottingham Panthers v Fife Flyers

(Image permission: Karl Denham)

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