Rams Can Make a Strong Statement This Weekend

The Dublin Rams can go to within 2 points of the Dundalk Bulls after this weekend. They play 2 games in the IIHL this weekend. Both the Dundalk Bulls and Latvian Hawks have the weekend off. On Saturday night, it’s Flyers I.H.C. v Dublin Rams. Then on Sunday it’s Belfast City Bruins v Dublin Rams. They play games back-to-back; the only team to do this in the IIHL so far this season. And this weekend couldn’t have come at a better time either. Having beaten the Dundalk Bulls last Saturday, the Bulls only defeat of the season, the Rams have mathematically given themselves a chance to win the league. The Bulls only need one more point and have three games left to do that. However, the Rams have a harder task, they need to win their 3 remaining games and hope the Bulls lose! That’s probably not going to happen.

Anyway, back to this weekend. Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. it’s Flyers I.H.C. v Dublin Rams at the Dundalk Ice Dome. These 2 teams met eac other only 2 weeks ago. The Rams won that game 8-4 and guaranteed themselves 2nd place at the Flyers’ expense. That was a hard hitting game with both teams having an equal measure of each other. The Rams were more clinical in their finishing though and ran out the victors. This Saturday will prove to be more difficult for both teams. The Rams are coming off their fantastic win against the Bulls. They have Eric Tobia back in nets and the team just seems to build in confidence when he is between the pipes. Their defence is solid and always has been. While in attack, they are running smoothly. Both Brandon Chalazan and Hunter Cape had fantastic performances against the Bulls. However, they aren’t a one line team and it’s their depth that helps them wear down teams as they just keep coming and coming. Matt Hearn as well as Tomas Burdys were also huge contributors in that game.

The Flyers on the other hand, are probably going to be out for some revenge this weekend. Losing 2nd place out to the Rams was probably a hard one to swallow. They are their biggest rivals as the majority of both players, hail from Dublin. They were in that game and will probably feel as though they lost that game themselves. However, they too are coming off a very impressive win. They beat the Hawks last Sunday afternoon and came back twice having been down. They eventually ran out 6-5 winners and in the dying minutes, they killed of some penalties. Last weekend, they played as a team and this could be seen on the score sheet. 5 different players scored with Emil Kacir getting 2 while 3 more players got assists. In total, 8 players of the 11 they had on the bench had their names on the score sheet. Teamwork was the key to their win against the Hawks and probably the reason they didn’t score more against the Rams. When the Flyers play as a team and work for each other, they are a very entertaining team to watch and they get the results too.

For the Flyers, a team effort is needed if they are to win. They will have Sandor Szabi in the lineup so expect some goals from him. While the guys who gave it their all last Sunday need to continue this. Emil Kacir has been playing very well since returning from his injury and scored 4 goals last time against the Rams and has 6 goals in 2 games. Barry Higgins and Dean Kelly each had a goal and an assist against the Hawks. They stepped up in that game but they really need to impress as this is the Flyers’s last league game and National Squad selection looms ever closer. Another big game is also required from Dermot Carney who stole that game against the Hawks in the dying minutes as he denied Brencis, Bowes and Serdjukovs when the Flyers were down a man.

The Rams on the other hand just need to do exactly what they’ve done in their last few games. They’ve played hard, finished their checks and took their chances when they’ve gotten them. At the other end, they’ve gotten solid goaltending from Sean Gibson when asked to fill for Tobia. While they’ve gotten brilliant goaltending from Tobia when he has been available. It should be a good game; the Flyers would love to officially stop the Rams from having a chance of winning the league while at the same time getting one over on their biggest rivals. Also, it is their last IIHL game of the season so they would love to go out with a bang.

On Sunday, its Belfast City Bruins v Dublin Rams at the Dundalk Ice Dome with face-off at 4:30 p.m. These 2 teams haven’t played each other since 1st of December. That’s nearly 3 months ago and that game finished 9-2 to the Rams. The Rams as we saw above are making some very progressive moves with that win against the Bulls. The Bruins on the other hand seem to be moving backwards. They haven’t won a game since 2007 and must be feeling like they’re the whipping boys at this stage.

They were victim to a 17-3 thrashing to the Bulls 3 weeks ago. However, they were short benched and the Bulls ran 3 solid lines one after another. The Bruins put up a good fight though. They competed with the Bulls but the short bench took its toll on them soon into the game and you could see that the players were tired. Gareth Martin finished that game with a hat-trick as he led the team in fighting back and at times took on 2 or 3 Bulls’ players on his own. He is in fine form and this bodes well for the National Squad as he will be one of the key players in at the World Championships in April.

2 weeks ago, they were again short benched and fell victim to a resurgent Latvian Hawks team. The Hawks ran out 11-6 winners. The Hawks went 5-0 up after the first period and 7-0 up after the 2nd. The Bruins lost Gareth Martin in the 2nd period through a fighting major. It was a huge loss to a team that was already down several key players. However, they fought back in the 3rd scoring 6 goals. They showed huge fight and character. This will probably stand testament for them this Sunday. They will need to fight against a spirited Rams team who may be on a roll after Saturday night. The Bruins will need more than a line and a half if they want to surprise the Rams. Also, there are a lot of guys on that team who will be looking to impress for the National Squad. David Gibson, Steven Hamill, Steven Ewen, Robert Leckey and Trevor Kennedy were all on the squad last year but will be hoping for inclusion again this April. While guys like Jonathan Keaney, Terence Craig and Philip McMaster will all be hoping to make their way back onto the squad.

This is a big weekend for the Rams but it is also a big one for many players on both the Bruins and Flyers. They’ll be out to impress the coaching staff of the National Squad. On the other hand, the Rams would surely love to heap enormous amounts of pressure on the Bulls. It might be unrealistic to think the Rams can win the league but they would like the Bulls to at least sweat it!

Sat 23/2/2008 – Flyers I.H.C. v Dublin Rams takes place at Dundalk Ice Dome with face-off at 8:00p.m. Entry is €8 for adults and €5 for children under 16.

Sun 24/2/2008 – Belfast City Bruins v Dublin Rams takes place at Dundalk Ice Dome with face-off at 4:30 p.m. Entry is €8 for adults and €5 for children under 16.

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