PREVIEW: Teams set for final push

PREVIEW: Teams set for final push
North Ayrshire Wild's SNL season ends with a trip to Braehead to take on Paisley Pirates (Photo by Al Goold)

North Ayrshire Wild’s SNL season ends with a trip to Braehead to take on Paisley Pirates (Photo by Al Goold)

NORTH AYRSHIRE WILD’s league season finishes on Sunday, but by the time they play that final game at Braehead Arena against Paisley Pirates, they’ll know if they still have a chance at the title.

They’ll be hoping for a Kirkcaldy Kestrels loss on Saturday at Dundee Comets and perhaps Moray Typhoons to take something off Edinburgh Capitals.

As for Kilmarnock Storm and Solway Sharks, it’s more about the Dumfries side’s play-off hopes than anything Killie can do.

Let’s take a look at the weekend fixtures in the SNL.

SNL: DUNDEE COMETS vs KIRKCALDY KESTRELS
Saturday, 7.45pm, Fife Ice Arena

BOTH teams have something to play for when they meet up and it’s unusual we’ve got to this late in the season without two teams playing each other.

That’s the situation facing Dundee Comets and Kirkcaldy Kestrels and these sides go in looking to enhance their differing ambitions.

Comets, while eight points behind, have four games to play, they just need either a point from this game or a Solway Sharks defeat in their game to confirm a spot in the play-offs.

Their inconsistency cost them any chance of a title tilt, but to qualify for the last eight would give them something to look forward to, especially considering they have no further involvement in the cups.

Comets’ last four league defeats have come at the hands of the challengers and will be looking to buck the trend against the current leaders, who are unbeaten in their last eight SNL outings.

Kestrels are back on Tayside just five weeks after defeating Dundee Tigers 3-1 in a key league game and showed no signs of rustiness in their 13-0 mauling of Solway.

Liam Cassidy scored four last week and will be in the mood to increase, but the win and to move one step closer to retaining the title is the most important thing.

SNL: KILMARNOCK STORM vs SOLWAY SHARKS
Saturday, 7.00pm, The Galleon

KILMARNOCK STORM haven’t had the best of seasons, it’s fair to say, but they will be targeting the points against Solway Sharks in this bottom of the table clash.

The Dumfries side have been in freefall and their play-off hopes hang in the balance following a run of five consecutive defeats, three of which have seen them concede double figures.

Three points behind Moray Typhoons and three games left to play, a loss here and a Typhoons win over Edinburgh Capitals would kill them off. As long as they win, there’s still a chance.

Tricky games with Aberdeen Lynx and Edinburgh Capitals remain, but all they can do is take care of themselves and hope for a favour from elsewhere.

Not the ideal situation for them, but Storm will smell the blood when they roll up at The Galleon and for Myles Watson’s men, a possible chance to break that duck.

But when you consider their last four games and five of their last six has seen them on the wrong end of double figures, it perhaps isn’t as straight forward as that.

It promises to be a fascinating encounter and in a situation where the pressure, on the face of it, is on the Sharks, we’ll see if they have the fight in them.

SNL: MORAY TYPHOONS vs EDINBURGH CAPITALS
Saturday, 6pm, Elgin Leisure Centre

AFTER a Christmas and New Year of one win in six, Edinburgh Capitals have stirred back to life with three wins in four and go to Moray Typhoons in good spirit.

They were idle last week so find themselves in fourth place in the SNL title race and three points behind, but have a game in hand on the Kestrels.

Victory in Elgin will certainly help keep them on track and they’ll be keeping a close eye on how their rivals bear up in their matches across the weekend.

The Caps have three road games of their final four figures, of which this is the first and they will fancy getting the full compliment of points, but won’t find it easy in the north.

Moray’s recent upturn in form has seen them move into the top eight and they’ll be cheered on by three other clubs in the league.

If the Typhoons beat the Caps, they’ll not only confirm their own play-off spot, but that of Dundee Comets, Dundee Tigers and Aberdeen Lynx as well.

It’s been three wins in a row and have taken the scalps of Paisley Pirates and North Ayrshire Wild in recent weeks.

Edinburgh Capitals won’t phase them in the slightest and a victory for either team will mean so much in the general scheme of things.

SNL: PAISLEY PIRATES vs NORTH AYRSHIRE WILD
Sunday, 6.00pm, Braehead Arena

FOR North Ayrshire Wild, their season comes to an end in Braehead Arena and while winning the title isn’t outwith the realms of possibility, it doesn’t look likely.

Last week’s loss at Moray Typhoons looks like being the costly one, but they’ll have to wait and see how the other games end before they know where they finish.

There’s no doubt they’ve had a great season and to end it on a high would be a fitting way to sign off, but they are coming up against a team who thrashed them 10-2 just last month.

For Paisley, they’ve got a tough run-in, including a visit by Dundee Tigers and an away trip to fellow challengers Edinburgh Capitals so their path to glory is not straight forward by any stretch.

But they have to be in it to win it and they certainly are, with seven wins in their last eight on league duty.

They’re at the point where they know they’ll have to take care of business themselves, but also hope for a favour somewhere else if the Pirates are to scoop the title.

Paisley beat Dundee Comets 5-3 last Sunday, but had to fight back from 2-0 down to claim the points and maintain their pursuit of league leaders Kirkcaldy Kestrels.

Talking to the Pirates’ website, coach Ian Turley is looking for the same character again against the Wild at Braehead on Sunday.

He said: “The boys put in the kind of shift last Sunday which I know they’re capable of. Even when we went in at the first break 2-0 behind, I was still very confident as we’d played some great stuff.

“The message to the players was simple – keep doing what you were doing, and it’ll come. And it did.”

“I’ll be looking for more of the same when we face North Ayrshire Wild and there’s always a bit of needle when we come together.

“We handed them two goals of a start at their place, just like the Comets match last weekend, before coming through to win and it shows me the boys have what it takes to keep their heads up without the early scares.”

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North Ayrshire Wild's SNL season ends with a trip to Braehead to take on Paisley Pirates (Photo by Al Goold) Picture: Al Goold (www.algooldphoto.com)

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