Elite League preview: Teams target momentum ahead of play-offs

Braehead Clan forward Corey Cowick is hoping his team can carry forward their recent good form on home ice into this weekend’s two road games.

Clan visit Nottingham Panthers on Friday before returning to Scotland to take on Dundee Stars the following day.

They then face the second bottom team next Wednesday in Glasgow – Manchester Storm. With odds of 7/10 to win, few would fancy the visitors to come out on top.

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“We definitely haven’t missed the road trips in the last few weeks – it’s been nice sleeping in our own beds before games, but we’re getting back into it straight away,” said Cowick.

“I think momentum is with us in terms of confidence wise and the way we’ve been playing as of late. We’ve been in top form and our results are up there.

“Going to Nottingham on Friday gives us another test as a team in trying to gain that fourth place finish.

“Having to travel to Nottingham then heading to Dundee gives us a bit of a test we haven’t seen in some time after being at home for a month.

“Stars will remember clearly what happened last week, so there might be some added grit and determination for them so we have to match that kind of effort.

“If you’re not going into the play-offs playing your best hockey, you’re in for a rude awakening. This organisation knows that all too well with their record in the last few years.”

Manchester Storm Player/Coach Omar Pacha has urged his team to build on last weekend’s performance at Coventry Blaze as the race to qualify for the Elite League play-offs reaches its climax.

Storm’s 3-2 shoot-out defeat was their eighth loss in nine games and left them three points above ninth-placed Dundee with eight games to play.

Despite facing two tough games against Cardiff Devils and Belfast Giants this weekend, Pacha wants his players to repeat the effort they showed at Coventry.

“The last few weeks have been challenging to say the least – even if we were full strength, excluding this past weekend when we were minus the influential (Matt) Bissonnette due to injury, we had guys playing with knocks who probably shouldn’t have been playing,” said Pacha.

“We are looking to build on Sunday’s performance in Coventry for the remainder of the season. That was our Storm brand of hockey and we want to maintain that level for the remainder of the season, starting this Friday at home to the Devils.

“We are currently in a play-off position – our main goal is to cement that play-off place which will be another positive step forward for our young franchise.

“Further progression has been seen off the ice again this season which has been awesome, but we need to continue to match that progression on the ice too which we have shown for the majority of this season.”

Fife forward Matt Sisca believes last Sunday’s stunning 6-3 victory over Sheffield Steelers will help the Flyers build some momentum ahead of the play-offs.

The Flyers’ 7-2 defeat at Belfast the previous day was their fourth loss in a row, but Sisca hopes the Steelers result can be a catalyst for a better run of form.

“I don’t know if I can describe how much we needed that,” Sisca told Fife Today.

“Getting zero out of six in the Conference last weekend was devastating and we came home from Belfast with our chins down low, but you saw that we had all lines firing. (Shane) Owen standing on his head, and Foxy (Justin Fox) back in the line-up gave us a lot more energy.

“It’s been a rollercoaster this season with winning streaks and losing streaks – but the losing streaks have got to stop now.

“We have seven games left in the season and although the Conference is over we want to finish as high in the league standings as possible, and get on a roll before play-offs.”

WEEKEND FIXTURES

Friday

Manchester Storm v Cardiff Devils
Nottingham Panthers v Braehead Clan

Saturday

Belfast Giants v Manchester Storm
Dundee Stars v Braehead Clan
Fife Flyers v Edinburgh Capitals
Sheffield Steelers v Coventry Blaze

Sunday

Cardiff Devils v Sheffield Steelers (Cup)
Edinburgh Capitals v Dundee Stars

(Image permission: Al Goold Photo)

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