PAUL FITZPATRICK watched his Solent & Gosport Devils win their ‘do-or-die’ relegation clash against Streatham Redskins and insisted: We can survive.
The National Ice Hockey League south one side moved to within one point of potential safety on Sunday with a hard-fought 5-4 victory against third-bottom Redskins.
Doubles from Mitchell Murray and Kent Johnson were added to by Greg Wyatt as the Devils put in a red-hot display at Gosport Ice Rink to claim their second win of the season.
Afterwards, manager Fitzpatrick, whose men would avoid instant relegation and enter a play-off to preserve their league status with a second-bottom finish, insisted the Devils had showed enough character to suggest survival was on the cards.
He said: ‘It was a four-point game. Last time we played them at their place (an 8-6 defeat) we were 4-0 down after six minutes.
‘We took the lead after a minute this time but, at the end, it was a case of bodies on the line for us.
‘They had a man advantage and pulled their netminder for the last two minutes, so it was a six-on-four outfield but we defended really well and held on for the victory.’
Gosport, who played the final minutes of the game with Kevin Tanner in the sin bin for rough play, were indebted to goaltender Christian ‘Chico’ Cole.
Fitzpatrick added: ‘Chico was tremendous for us and was the man of the match.
‘Streatham became increasingly frustrated and, at the end, tempers were high, so there was a bit of a brawl, but that’s ice hockey.’
Sunday’s fighting victory and two much-needed points puts last season’s NIHL south two champions within one point of second-bottom Milton Keynes Thunder and gives them renewed survival hopes.
Fitzpatrick said: ‘Morale and spirit is high and survival is in sight.
‘We are now targeting the remaining matches against Streatham Redskins and Milton Keynes Thunder.’
The Devils could move off the bottom of the table for the first time this season on Saturday, with victory at unbeaten Romford Raiders.