SOLENT & Gosport Devils will be looking to cause the ‘upset of the season’ when they travel to high-flying Romford Raiders this evening (5.15pm).
The Devils, who are bottom of National Ice Hockey League south one, have claimed just two wins from their opening 16 matches and lost all three previous meetings against second-placed Romford this season.
But manager Paul Fitzpatrick believes his players can take heart from last weekend’s crucial victory against fellow strugglers Streatham Redskins. And he insists relegation-threatened Solent & Gosport are not going to be easy opponents for the title challengers.
Fitzpatrick said: ‘We respect Romford. There is a reason they have won so many games this season and we know they are going to be heavy favourites.
‘We are no push-overs, though, and we are going to make sure they know they are in a game.
He added: ‘I think they are probably favourites to win the league and it would take the upset of the season to get a victory up there.
‘But we have run them close in previous games, including a one-goal defeat at Gosport Ice Rink, and they will have to work extremely hard to break us down.’
A 12-game pointless start to the campaign suggested the Devils’ NIHL south one bid for safety looked bleak.
But two precious wins in their past four matches, over relegation rivals Streatham and Milton Keynes Thunder, have brought them renewed hope of survival.
And the full-strength visitors, who welcome back netminder Aaron Taylor as competition for in-form Christian ‘Chico’ Cole, could move off the foot of the table for the first time this season with surprise victory at Rom Valley Way.
Hosts Romford, who won their first 11 games of the NIHL south one season, have encountered a recent lapse of form, suffering a shock first-loss of the season to mid-table Bracknell Hornets before being held to a draw by title rivals Wightlink Raiders.
A return to winning ways over the Devils would complete a clean-sweep of victories for the Londoners.