This weekend’s match up for the Rams is a real David versus Goliath tale in modern day sporting history. The upstart Dublin Rams take on the league favorites Dundalk Bulls this Saturday at 8pm at the Dome. The ‘Goliath-like’ Bulls have strolled easily through their first couple of games winning by a combined total of 39-8, with convincing wins over the Flyers and Hawks.
The Bulls have the daunting task of taking on the Dublin Rams, who have surprised most having two wins of their own. The Rams who are 2-0 with wins over the Belfast Bruins and the Latvian Hawks have an impressive defensive record allowing just five goals against in their two matches thus far. This game promises to be a game of contrasts high fueled offense versus a organised defensive unit with solid goal tending.
The Bulls have dominated their opponents over the past few weeks as mentioned outscoring their opponents 39-8 and have so far lived up to their billing as odds on favorites to win the league.
Offensively, it has proven to be the Bulls big three that have done most of the damage with Kenny Redmond (7g,3a), Milosz Labudda (6g,3a), and Robert Grochowicz (5g,1a) leading the bulls charge. There are a number of other players from the Bulls, who have already put up decent numbers this year and will be looking to improve on their totals.
The Bulls defensive unit is led by Vytautas Lukosevicius, Sebastian Wachowski, who have played very well. Vytautas should be back to full strength recovering from a bone bruise after blocking a shot two weeks ago. Goalie Adam Pepper who has both of the Bulls wins thus far and been solid in net. Overall Bulls defence has been solid this year but, will likely be challenged this weekend.
The Bulls have dominated teams through periods one and two however have been prone to late game comebacks. The Hawks managed to score five goals in the third periods against the Bulls earlier this season and the Flyers rallied for three. The Bulls will be looking to play consistent hockey through three periods and will have the added incentive of a home crowd behind them.
By contrast this year the Dublin Rams seem to have the best overall defensive package thus far. Goaltender Eric Tobia has stolen the show this year posting a 2.50 GAA this season and posting a 0.970 save percentage in his last start. But it has been an overall defensive effort, both on even situations and when a man down (5 against 4 penalty killing) that the Rams have truly shined this year.
The Defensive core is led by the Ohnheiser brothers Radek and Michal who have been very solid this far. Adrian Huang unyielding as a solid stay at home defenseman and is thriving in his first couple of games looking comfortable on the penalty killing unit. Newcomer, Andrew Gannon will be a good addition to the blueline and has a very solid shot from the point. It has been the Rams penalty-killing unit that has been the biggest surprise to date. Killing off all five of the two-man down situations (5 against 3) this season and stifling teams in short man situations.
Offensively, the Rams have had a number of players contributing with Aaron Cuskeran (2g,2a), Peter McKenzie (2g,1a) and Andrew Moriarty (2g,1a) leading the charge. The Rams will be looking for others to step up this weekend as Peter McKenzie will be a healthy scratch this weekend. The Rams have a number of candidates who will be expected to pick up the gap left behind. Most notably, Brandon Chalazan and Bret Dilabbio will be expected to add much needed scoring presence around the goal. Matt Hearn is another who has the potential to do big things this weekend and will be looked to chip in offensively.
So far this year the Rams have amassed 86 minutes in penalties and this will be an area of concern for Coach Roy Cooper. Staying out of penalty trouble will be the primary focus against the Bulls who possess the offensive fire power to make it a long night should the Rams find themselves parading to the penalty box. But, if the Rams can stay out of penalty trouble this weekend then expect a very good game.
In speaking with Coach Cooper this week we asked him his thoughts on the upcoming match, “It is going to be a tough battle, we are most definitely the little ‘David’, the underdogs in all this as the Dundalk Bulls are the bookies favorites to win every game and take the championship. However we intend to give them a good run for their money, our lads have trained hard and will be giving it 120% effort. And yes it is imperative that we stay out of the penalty box. The Bulls are too good a team to be handing them such opportunities. We treat every game very seriously and it is one game at a time. Ice hockey is the fastest game in the world (sorry lads but it is faster than Hurling) every second in a game counts and the tide can turn very quickly in a game. It is three, twenty minutes periods and we intend to fight for each minute. We also need to show Dundalk that Dublin and the greater Dublin area (Kildare Wicklow and Meath) fans are strong and invite everyone out to watch what is building to be game of the season.”
The Bulls versus Rams does promise to be a classic duel in any case, as the high-flying offence of the Bulls squares up against the solid defensive play of the Rams. Look for this to be the game of the week, and a close contest to the end.
Rams versus the Bulls! Who will win out in the end? Find out Saturday, face off is 8pm at the Dome in Dundalk. Tickets are 8 euro per adult and 5 euro per person under 16, there are buses leaving from various points around Dublin and if you are interested contact Hunter Cape at firstname.lastname@example.org.