x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Abu Dhabi Storms have 'lost the momentum'

Yuri Faikov, the coach, says the morale boost of winning the Bangkok title two weeks ago counts for nothing against their rivals and undefeated table leaders.

The Dubai Mighty Camels top the five-team league, and would like to extend their winning streak over Abu Dhabi Storms.
The Dubai Mighty Camels top the five-team league, and would like to extend their winning streak over Abu Dhabi Storms.

ABU DHABI // Any momentum the Abu Dhabi Storms might have built up by winning a major tournament in Thailand 12 days ago has been lost during a lengthy break for Eid, the club's coach said.

The Storms return to action in the Emirates Ice Hockey League (EHL) as part of a double-header at the Abu Dhabi Ice Rink tomorrow. The Abu Dhabi Scorpions take on Al Ain Vipers in the opening match, followed by the Dubai Mighty Camels clash versus Storms.

The Camels-Storms game takes the centre stage as the latter return for their first game in the domestic league after being crowned the champions in the international division of the Land of Smiles Hockey Classic in Bangkok.

Yuri Faikov, the Storms coach, expressed concern over his team's readiness after the break for Eid.

"We haven't had much training after we returned from Bangkok," said the Belarusian. "We started well in the league and did pretty well in the competition abroad, and that momentum is now lost because of the break we have had and some players not available for personal reasons.

"We trained for the last two days and, with one more training session left before the match, we will decide on our game plan. It will be a difficult game for us because some of our key players are absent in training."

One of the key players missing for the Storms is Juma Al Dhaheri, who has accompanied his mother to Germany for medication.

The Camels are undefeated in four games in the EHL. The Storms have two league victories and were unbeaten in five matches in the Bangkok event.

Faikov is not too worried about the early results in the EHL. "It is still early if we are thinking of winning the league," he said. "We are using these games to prepare ourselves for some international events and build a strong Emirati-based team.

"That doesn't mean we are going into matches with a defeatist mindset. We want to win every game we play even if we are not at full strength."

Each of the five teams in the league will play 16 matches and four will advance to the play-off stage.

The Camels want to extend their winning streak but their preparations have also been hindered by the break.

"But we still have a pretty decent squad assembled for this game," said Ron Murphy, the Camels captain.

"We expect it to be a close game but winning will be our objective. We have had a terrific run so far and a good start will always be helpful on our title hunt towards the end."

Murphy believes the Storms will have a mental edge following their success in Bangkok. "They are coming after winning an international tournament and the confidence may be very high in their camp," he said. "It is the first game between two unbeaten teams and we can expect a cracking match."