The top two in the EPL do battle this weekend in a double-header that could have a big impact on this year’s title race.
Second-placed MK Lightning currently trail leaders Telford Tigers by three points ahead of Saturday’s game in Milton Keynes, with a return meeting in Telford the following day adding extra spice to this round of fixtures.
The teams met twice during October, recording a win apiece, and Lightning captain Adam Carr (above) is expecting two tough encounters.
“This weekend is huge for both teams – all that separates us is three overtime points, which shows how close it is between us,” said Carr.
“These games are about executing the small details – whoever does a better job of that will win. They are a quality side with a lot of depth – but so are we, and we are ready to go.
“We are here to win trophies and I believe we have the team to win them all this year, but we need to be at our best every night.
“I know the rink will be bouncing on Saturday as we look to close the gap at the top.”
Tigers’ forward Joe Miller is set to make his comeback against Lightning after being sidelined with concussion for the last three weeks.
Miller trained for the first time this week and says he is ready for action.
He said: “It is a massive couple of games for us and I think we’ll be battling with them for the league all season.
“They’ve got good depth and match up against us very well. Games against Milton Keynes are always very physical, so I’m looking forward to this weekend.
“Hopefully we can widen the gap to them, but it could go the other way and they could close on us, so it’s a huge back-to-back.
“The adrenaline will be flowing, of course, but the important thing is that the guys stay calm and composed in both games.”
Basingstoke Bison host Guildford Flames on Saturday hoping to keep up the pressure on the teams above them in the table.
Despite winning nine of their last ten games, Bison trail the Tigers by eight points although they do have a game in hand.
After losing 5-1 in Guildford two weeks ago, the reigning champions bounced back to beat Swindon Wildcats and MK Lightning last weekend.
Head Coach Doug Sheppard is keen to see his team stay in touch with the leaders.
“We played our best hockey of the year last weekend and our fans really got behind the team producing a great atmosphere in our rink,” said Sheppard.
“I want us to play the same again against Guildford and this is sure to give our fans something to shout about.
“Being just a one-game weekend, we have to make sure we get the win, otherwise we will be losing ground on the teams above us.”
Basingstoke Bison v Guildford Flames
Bracknell Bees v Manchester Phoenix
MK Lightning v Telford Tigers
Peterborough Phantoms v Swindon Wildcats
Guildford Flames v Sheffield Steeldogs
Hull Pirates v Bracknell Bees
Manchester Phoenix v Peterborough Phantoms
Telford Tigers v MK Lightning
(Image permission: Tony Sargent)