EPL preview: Goalies key to Flames’ winning run

Guildford Flames face Hull Pirates and Swindon Wildcats this weekend aiming to extend their seven-game unbeaten run.

Flames are currently fourth in the EPL table, nine points behind leaders Basingstoke Bison with two games in hand.

Their recent run includes two shut-outs at home to Basingstoke and Bracknell Bees by Richard Ullberg (above) and Gregg Rockman – performances which have delighted Player/Coach Paul Dixon.

“It’s not often you win back-to-back home games with a shut-out, one by each of our goaltenders no less, but we could certainly get used to that,” said Dixon.

“Good goaltending just makes everything that much easier, and takes the pressure off everybody.

“We had the bulk of the play pretty much from start to finish (against Bracknell) and Gregg made some good saves to ensure we wouldn’t need a whole lot of offense to get the result.

“Every game is important now, and we are playing well at the minute, but we don’t want to focus too much on the result but rather the process.

“Our objective is to try to find a way to stay committed to what we are doing now, which gives us every opportunity to have success from night to night.

“Our guys should be very pleased with their performance over this stretch, and we hope we can continue it against Hull and Swindon.”

Sheffield Steeldogs take to the road this weekend looking to bounce back from last weekend’s double disappointment.

Defeats against Telford and Peterborough Phantoms left the Steeldogs six points adrift of the Tigers with 11 games remaining.

They travel to Basingstoke on Saturday ahead of Sunday’s trip to Hull and defenseman Ben Morgan is hoping the team produce two positive performances.

“We were disappointed not to pick up any points last weekend, but we’ll have a good week in practice and come back with a game plan – a fresh focus.

“We have Basingstoke and Hull away at the weekend, so it will be tough playing two games on the road, but we see it as a weekend where we can certainly pick up points, hopefully with a fuller bench to call on.”

Hull Player/Coach Dominic Osman has challenged his team to end the season on a high, after their faint hopes of a play-off spot were all but ended last weekend.

With ten games left the Pirates trail Manchester Phoenix by 16 points and their hopes of a top-eight finish look remote.

“It’s not good enough from our hockey team at this point,” said Osman. “We need to take a long step back and take a look in the mirror.

“We played really well away from our defensive zone, but in our defensive zone we were not aware. We worked hard, but we just gave up too many grade-A scoring chances.

“When you do that against any team in this league they’ll bury you.”

WEEKEND FIXTURES

Saturday

Basingstoke Bison v Sheffield Steeldogs
Hull Pirates v Guildford Flames
Swindon Wildcats v Peterborough Phantoms
Telford Tigers v Manchester Phoenix

Sunday

Bracknell Bees v Basingstoke Bison
Guildford Flames v Swindon Wildcats
Hull Pirates v Sheffield Steeldogs
Manchester Phoenix v MK Lightning
Peterborough Phantoms v Telford Tigers

(Image permission: John Uwins)

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