EPL preview: Top two go head-to-head

The top two in the EPL face-off on Saturday as second-placed MK Lightning host leaders Telford Tigers.

Lightning lost their unbeaten record at home to Guildford Flames last weekend, but bounced back with a road win at Bracknell Bees.

Tigers also had a mixed weekend, winning on home ice against Manchester Phoenix before falling to Peterborough Phantoms after a shoot-out.

Both teams head into the weekend on 14 points and Lightning boss Pete Russell is expecting an entertaining game.

“We’re really looking forward to Saturday’s game against Telford – they are a quality team,” said Russell.

“We know it’s going to be a great advert for the EPL and it’s a going to be another fantastic atmosphere. We can’t wait to get started.”

Tigers’ captain Jason Silverthorn will pay little attention to the league table ahead of the game, insisting the team’s preparations remain the same whoever they’re playing.

“Milton Keynes are just the next in that run we’re looking for – we’ll play like we’ve been playing all the other games so far this season, and just go out and try to win it,” said Silverthorn.

“You can’t pay too much attention to the league table. You take it one game at a time, building through each game.

“You want to keep getting better every night, especially at this stage of the season.

“We’ll look at Milton Keynes, try to grind out a good road win and then turn our attention to Sunday against Swindon.”

Peterborough netminder Adam Long says he ready to step up to plate again if the need arises this weekend.

An injury to regular starter Janis Auzins saw Long handed the start in Phanatoms’ 3-0 defeat at Hull Pirates last Saturday, but he bounced back in style the following day to backstop the team to a 4-3 shoot-out victory over the Tigers.

Phantoms travel to Swindon Wildcats on Saturday, before returning to home ice against Sheffield Steeldogs the following day and Long has no fears about being thrust into the spotlight if Auzins doesn’t recover in time.

“I’m always ready when required – I know my role is to back up Janis, but I’ve got to take any opportunities that can come my way,” he told the Peterborough Telegraph.

“I’m still young and every game is great experience for me. I wasn’t at my best against Hull, but was much happier with what I did against Telford.

“If I’m needed again this weekend, hopefully I can build on that performance and play well again. They are two tough games against Swindon and Sheffield, but you expect every weekend to be hard in this league.”

Czech forward Jakub Langhammer believes Manchester are capable of climbing the table despite winning just once this season.

Phoenix face a trip to Sheffield on Saturday ahead of Sunday’s home game against Guildford and Langhammer thinks its only a matter of time before the club adds to its points total.

“I can tell that it’s a strong league in England, and the games have been really competitive,” said Langahmmer.

“It’s been a tough start to the season, but I’m confident that we’ll pick up some wins soon.

“I’m really enjoying living in a city as big as Manchester – it’s an awesome place! Blackpool has also been great as I like being next to the ocean and just relaxing.

“I want to try to get points every night and if I do that I’ll be happy. But more than that, I want the team to win and that’s what I’ll try to do.

WEEKEND FIXTURES

Saturday

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

Sunday

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

(Image permission: Lucy McGill)

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