Murrayfield Racers: Tony Hand hails fans ahead of 'biggest weekend for club'
Capital side can't wait for semi-final clash with Solway Sharks
Murrayfield Racers travel to Dumfries tonight for the first leg of their National Ice Hockey League North Cup semi-final with Solway Sharks, before entertaining Sharks at Murrayfield in the return leg just 24-hours later in a weekend described by Racers director of hockey Tony Hand as “the biggest since we launched the club two years ago”.
Scottish National League side Murrayfield have already enjoyed some cracking games with teams from the more highly-regarded NIHL in the round-robin qualifying stage, including, a 7-4 home win over current NIHL table toppers Whitley Warriors and two narrow one goal defeats at the hands of Solway Sharks.
Hand said: “These teams have more depth than us and would probably do better than us over the course of a season, but you’ve got to give our guys credit they gave Whitley two tough games and we also ran Solway close. We can definitely do it, we need to just keep concentrating for the 60-minutes. We have a habit of switching off at times, it’s important we don’t do that this weekend.”
“Solway are a good team. We’ve seen that first-hand, but in a couple of games against them we were pretty unlucky. We need to make sure we’re not too offensive down in Dumfries. If we can keep it close coming into tomorrow, then anything can happen.”
Racers finished the group stage of the competition in strong fashion, with the Whitley win and picking up a point away to Billingham Stars, and have been in swash-bucking form of late winning their last 12-games. Solway, by their own high standards, have gone off the boil slightly, including a 9-6 loss to Solihull Barons last weekend.
Hand continued: “Of course Solway remain favourites, they play in a higher division than us week in, week out and that makes you that wee bit sharper and stronger. We’ve got a lot of quality players, we have more depth than we had last year, and we’ve been playing well recently, so hopefully we can play a smart game and come out with something.”
Two coach-loads of Racers fans will be making the trip down to the south west of Scotland and Hand added: “The fans have been brilliant and following us around all year, they make a lot of noise and it’s really appreciated by everyone involved with the club. We’re all excited and I would say this is our biggest weekend since we launched the team nearly two years ago.”