Murrayfield Racers boss Tony Hand explains why his new-look team can rock the North Cup
Murrayfield Racers director of hockey Tony Hand believes his team can qualify for the knock-out stages of the National Ice Hockey League North Cup, which begins tomorrow night with a group match at home to Dundee Comets (face-off 6pm).
The match promises to be Racers’ first real test of the new ice hockey season, and will be the first time the two sides have met competitively since last season’s Scottish Cup Final, where Comets thwarted Racers’ treble hopes by pipping the league and Stuart Robertson Cup winners 6-5 in a thriller.
Hand said: “It’s a big test for us, both Dundee and ourselves are desperate to do well in this competition and it’s going to be a huge game for both teams tomorrow.”
The NIHL North Cup, now in it’s second year, features teams from both Scotland and England, who play each other home and away in a round-robin format, with the top four teams qualifying for the knock-out stages.
Hand continued: “Last year we came in not knowing much about it and the level the other teams would be playing at. We’re looking to have a great improvement this time and at least get to the semi-finals.”
Racers have had a busy summer adding seven new faces to the squad and, despite losing the services of former Elite League ace Martin Cingel (retired) and second-top points scorer Aaron Robertson who, after making the switch to Dundee, will play against Racers tomorrow, Hand believes he has a better team at his disposal this season.
“Last season when we had guys out hurt it really impacted the team. This year we have players who can jump into different positions when needed. There’s competition for places and that’s always good, we’ve got a lot of depth but what’s pleased me most is how hard everyone has been working, it’s obvious they all want to do well.
“To be honest some of the guys are still settling in, but that’s to be expected.
“The new boys have all been good, I’m quite happy with how they’ve conducted themselves. We’ve still got a lot of improvement ahead of us but I think we’re a stronger team than last season, that’s for sure.”