Murrayfield Racers set for 'league decider' against Solway Sharks
Abderdeen Lynx first up tonight
Murrayfield Racers are in Scottish National League action tonight at Aberdeen Lynx, but no-one can begrudge the comments of director of hockey Tony Hand, perhaps already thinking ahead to tomorrow’s clash at Murrayfield with Solway Sharks, which the former GB internationalist forward has billed “a league decider”.
In a match that comes just a week after Racers’ 10-9 aggregate success over Solway in their thrilling National Ice Hockey League Cup semi-final, Racers have a realistic chance of retaining last season’s SNL title, but must better Solway’s 3-2 win over the Edinburgh club in Dumfries, when the two teams last met on league business in November.
Hand said: “It’s a huge game, the league decider in my opinion.
“We know if we don’t win on Sunday Sharks will then have to lose three SNL games between now and the end of the season for us to have a chance of winning the league and that’s not going to happen.”
Solway, who also play in the predominantly English NIHL, also iced their team in this season’s SNL after a league restructure south of the border reduced their number of games, and the south-west outfit have lived up to their pre-season favourite tags, failing to drop a league point and posting 13 straight wins.
Hand continued: “When our guys have needed to be up for a game, they’ve almost always managed to do that. The willingness they’ve shown to compete this season has been fantastic and they deserve a lot of credit for that.
“Solway are a well-run team and we would always expect a tough game. We’ve had five games against them this season, all of them have gone down to the wire, and four have been decided by a single goal.”
Indeed, Solway had won all previous encounters between the two sides, bar Racers’ 6-4 win at Murrayfield in the cup last Sunday which was good enough for them to progress to next month’s two-leg final against Whitley Warriors.
Asked if his side can expect a reaction from Solway, Hand said: “I never get too concerned about what the other team do. We want to think about what we can do better and we’re working on tweaking a few things from what I saw against them last week.
“The guys were elated to get through, we’ve been in finals before but in this competition, we’ve played against superior teams, they should be proud of themselves.”