Killeen: Ritten Sport will have eyes on final group

(PHOTO: Dean Woolley)

Milton Keynes Lightning netminder Patrick Killeen says former team Ritten Sport will have their eyes firmly on reaching the Continental Cup Final group again.

The Italian side will look to bounce back from yesterday’s 4-0 loss to Polish side GKS Katowice as they look for a place in January’s final group.

And Killeen, who played in the last two final groups with the Italians, including the group that saw Nottingham Panthers win the tournament in 2017, described the tournament as highlights from his career.

“Ritten will want to get into that final group again after having done it in the last two seasons, but getting through the semi finals, where we are now, isn’t easy,” he said.

“Everyone’s in the same place and will want to get, at least, two wins out of three and go on from there.

“For me, the Continental Cup was probably my most favourite experiences as a hockey player. It’s so intense and at a high level, plus you’re stepping away from the normality of the regular season.

“It’s kind of unique that you go into this competition representing your league as well as the team you play for and bigger picture, representing the hockey from that country. It was pretty special to me.”

Ritten lost to Elite League opposition in the Panthers and Sheffield Steelers in the final group in the last two seasons.

Killeen reckons his old team will want to take that out on the Giants when they go head to head on Friday, but insists they are looking forward to another Continental Cup adventure.

He added: “They’ll be looking forward to it a lot. I’m still in touch with some of the guys there and for them, it’s a little bit of a different look than they’ve had in the past.

“From what I know, they’ve been very solid, have a good strong Italian goalie and a mix of good imports and good Italian player so I think it will be a solid weekend for them.

“Conversations haven’t come up about Belfast, but leading up to it, I might get a few text messages to ask about it.

“That said, things haven’t really gone too well for me there so I don’t know if I can help them out too much.

“I would say they may have a chip on their shoulder when it comes to playing teams from the Elite League. It’s a little different because Italy allows only four imports compared to 14 in the UK.

“It puts them behind the eight-ball, but I think they have some really good players there. In my experience with Ritten, the British teams were good at finding ways to win and it will be another tough one for them.”