Murrayfield Racers will travel down to Sheffield Steeldogs for tomorrow’s National Ice Hockey League, North Cup match minus as many as six first-team regulars as injuries, illness and work commitments take their toll on the Scottish National League club.
Top points scorer Callum Boyd, player-assistant coach Martin Cingel and Latvian defenceman Patriks Grigors are all weeks away from a return to action after picking up knocks in bruising victories over Aberdeen Lynx and North Ayrshire Wild last weekend.
Racers, director of hockey operations, Tony Hand said: “It’s going to be really tough for us, we’ve got two guys with ligament damage, one with a back problem and another with a shoulder injury. We’ve got guys who’ve not been able to practice all week through illness and one of our players will definitely miss the trip because of work. We’ll have at least five or six guys out in what was always going to be a real challenge for us, even with a full squad.”
This season, Racers remain undefeated in amateur SNL competitions, but they have found it difficult against the semi-pro ranks of the NIHL after being invited to participate in their North Cup. They lost 8-2 at Billingham Stars and a narrow 3-2 home defeat by Blackburn Hawks in their opening two games of the competition.
The Murrayfield club have been widely tipped to take the step up to the NIHL next season and Hand continued: “We’ve not been beaten (in SNL competitions) this season – apart from a friendly defeat to Dundee Comets – all in all things have been going really well for us. I’m pleased with the improvement I’ve seen in our players, and you can see how keen they are to learn and do well for the club.”
“We’ve set realistic goals for the season and we’re not kidding ourselves with the NIHL Cup, we’re using it as a gauge to see where we are, and help us in our thoughts of what we want to do next year.”