KIRKCALDY KESTRELS captain Daryl Venters admits he was relieved the buzzer went at Dundee Comets last week.
Aaron Robertson’s penalty shot with a minute and a half to go decided the game, with the Fifers winning 4-3 and just managed to keep the SNL champions on track for a successful defence.
But Venters insists there’s no pressure on his team to deliver the title again as they home in on the crown.
He said: “It was a huge relief to hear the buzzer and we knew anything but a win would mean the SNL title would be out of our hands.
“If I’m honest, we didn’t play well enough until the last five minutes of the second period where we picked up the pace after a good talking to by the coaches.
“We carried it over into the third and you have to hand it to young ‘Robbo’, he took the penalty very well knowing what was at stake and he went out there and done the business.
“There’s no pressure on us, but obviously we want to retain the league. We’ll just continue having fun and look forward to seeing how the next couple of weeks pan out.”
Kestrels and Comets are doing it all again on Sunday in Kirkcaldy when the main priority for the home team is those two points.
Venters reckons the manner of how Dundee lost last week may make them tricky, but is focussed on what his own side does and how they go about their objectives.
He added: “How they lost last week may make them harder to deal with, but to be honest all we are interested is how we play and we as a team are full of confidence.
“We have home advantage so we’re looking to start the game how we ended it last week.”
As for the title race, it looks like it could be a straight shootout between Venters’ Kestrels and Paisley Pirates, with North Ayrshire Wild and Edinburgh Capitals’ challenge faltering of late.
The 37-year-old is loving how the season has panned out so far and gave an insight into his team’s relative success so far.
But he also reckons the league has a whole is on the up and hopes the gap between the SNL and Elite League can close.
Venters said: “The start of the season was not great for us. Everybody came back just expecting to be in the same mentality as last year and that doesn’t happen.
“It wasn’t until we got heavily beat in North Ayr the penny dropped but we all came together, including coaches and management team and from then things changed.
“The league is so tight this year and for me, great to play in and looking at the table, it looks like it’s between us and Paisley but there are two games to go and anything can happen.
“It’s been great to play in it’s testament to how far the SNL has come and continues to grow.
“The depth has improved year on year and that can only be a good thing for all the young boys and giving them the best platform possible to realise their potential.
“That’s always been the Kestrels ethos from the start and while the gap between the SNL and Elite is massive, the stronger the SNL the better and hopefully through time start to close the gap.”