Tony Hand wants his Racers to ‘think ice hockey seven days a week’

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Murrayfield Racers get their Scottish National League season underway on Sunday, facing off against North Ayrshire Wild at Murrayfield (face-off 6pm).

Racers, winners of six British championships before folding in 1995, were relaunched this summer but had their application to replace Murrayfield ice rink’s previous tenant, Edinburgh Capitals, in the UK-wide Elite League rejected. Instead, they have replaced Caps’ SNL side in the 11-strong amateur SNL set-up.

However, the ambitious club will also participate in the National Ice Hockey League Cup, a round-robin competition with semi-professional teams from south of the Border.

Racers head coach Tony Hand was pleased with the commitment shown by his team in last weekend’s pre-season Caledonia Cup overtime loss to current SNL champions Dundee Comets, and said: “Our goals this season are to build a strong club both on and off the ice.

“In the past at this level, guys knew they were on the team and that was the end of it. We’d like to create more competition for places and we want our players to act like professionals and think about their hockey seven days a week.”

Hand, who starred for Racers back in their heyday, and is widely regarded as the best ice hockey player Britain has ever produced, continued: “Prior to the games against Dundee, we’d only had two practice sessions.

“I loved the guys’ desire to win and to do well. I thought there was a lot of skill on show and this league doesn’t get the credit it deserves for that, but we have a lot to work on.

“We’ll find it tough playing against NIHL teams, who play with predominately professional players, but in the SNL I expect us to be up there challenging for every trophy.

“We have a big season ahead of us and we’re all up for the challenge.”