ICE HOCKEY: Aldridge urges fans to raise the roof
HEAD coach Ryan Aldridge has called on Wildcats fans to raise the roof when Swindon take on Basingstoke in the play-off quarter-finals this weekend.
Swindon face the Bison at the Link Centre tonight and in Hampshire tomorrow, as they target a semi-final appearance at Coventry SkyDome.
Wildcats go into this weekend’s games having finished the EPL regular season with six straight defeats, and are widely-viewed as underdogs against a team who ended second in the table.
Aldridge wants supporters to get behind his team as much as they can as Swindon aim to bring down one of the sides hotly-tipped to win the play-offs.
He said: “It’s going to be a busy building on Saturday, hopefully it will be a full house and if they can be loud right from the first I’m sure it’s going to lift us.
“Even if we do start flat hopefully they can get behind us, but at the end of the day we need to give them something to cheer about.
“When we’re flat, our fans are flat, so we need to work together.”
Aldridge believes that only the best players come to the fore when the play-offs come round and is hoping that will be plenty of those on his team.
“It’s going to be interesting to watch some of the players play, because we’ve been that up-and-down team all year,” he said.
“This is the time that sorts the men from the boys, you learn who can play under pressure.
“We’ve got to stay relaxed and just come to play. It’s play-offs so it’s going to be harder, but it’s still just a game of hockey.
“Because we know we’re playing the same team both nights this weekend, we’ve done a lot of work on how to play them.
“We’ve had a lot of time to focus on their weak spots and how we’re going to be able to penetrate their defence.
“We know what we have to do to be successful and playing them on Sunday (when Wildcats lost 6-3) was a bit of a help.”
Swindon will be without young forwards Floyd Taylor and Ollie Betteridge, who are both away with Great Britain Under 18s at the World Championships (Division 2A) in Estonia.
Aldridge faces a straight choice between defenceman Tomas Fojtik and Jan Melichar as he is understandably unwilling to sacrifice any of his three import forwards.
And the head coach has not yet decided who will get the nod out of the two Czechs.
“It’s not about who the better player is, it’s about who’s right for the situation,” said Aldridge.
“It could be one on Saturday and one on Sunday, I’m not 100 per cent which one I’m going to go with yet.”