EPL preview: Opponents now wary of the Pirates

Hull forward Jason Hewitt says other teams in the EPL are sitting up and taking notice about the Pirates’ impressive form this season.

The Pirates travel to MK Lightning on Saturday, before hosting Basingstoke Bison the following day and Hewitt believes both teams know they will be in for a battle.

“The first five games we were probably a surprise but after that we were not catching anyone by surprise, we were playing good hockey,” Hewitt told the Hull Daily Mail.

“I would say now, because of our form and where we are in the table, people are looking at us as one of the teams to beat.

“They will bring their A-game and that’s something we have to realise and take our game to the next level again.

“We’ve played Lightning a couple of times and lost by a goal down there and we beat them up here. It was a good game at home and it came down on the right side for us. We definitely need a good performance on Saturday.

“Basingstoke are a good team – they had a slow start but are starting to pick up results and climb up the table.

“They won the league last year and a lot of those players have returned there. It will be another huge test.

“Everyone will be on their game when they play us and hopefully we will be the same for them.”

Peterborough Phantoms’ boss Slava Koulikov wants his players to reproduce the form they showed during last Sunday’s impressive 2-0 victory over the Pirates.

The Phantoms visit Bracknell Bees on Saturday ahead of Sunday’s home game against Manchester Phoenix and Koulikov is keen to see his team put the league’s bottom two to the sword.

“We’ve had a lot of good results this season, but last Sunday against Hull really stood out,” Koulikov told the Peterborough Telegraph.

“We had to fight against a lot of things – not just good opposition – and for many different reasons it was the best performance I’ve seen from my team.

“Every single guy from my netminder forward was outstanding. It is impossible to single any individuals out after a complete showing like that.

“We managed to shut out the highest-scoring team in the league and I was always confident we could find the net ourselves.

“I was a little disappointed to come away from Guildford with nothing the previous night, but we addressed the reasons behind that defeat and my guys gave me an outstanding response.

“If we can repeat that sort of display we put in against Hull on a consistent basis, there are not many teams who will beat us.

“We have come through the last two weekends against tough opponents with a 50 percent win ratio, and the challenge now is to better that with the games we have coming up.

“But, as I’ve said many times, the teams down at the bottom of the table are capable of getting results so we have to approach every game with the right focus.”

WEEKEND FIXTURES

Saturday

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

Sunday

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

(Image permission: Steve Bird)

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