The third game in the Emirates Hockey League finals at Dubai Mall will decide who takes the championship.
Abu Dhabi Storms ready for EHL decider with Dubai Mighty Camels
DUBAI // Abu Dhabi Storms will have revenge on the mind tonight when they meet Dubai Mighty Camels in the deciding game of the best-of-three Emirates Hockey League (EHL) finals.
The Storms defeated the Camels in the EHL finals last year to take the title, but lost to their arch-rivals in the final of the Union40 Capital International tournament in December on their home turf at the Abu Dhabi Ice Rink at Zayed Sports City.
Now, as they travel to Dubai for the championship decider, Matti Fagerstrom, the Storms forward, and his teammates will be looking to avenge that loss.
"We lost to them in the Capital tournament final," Fagerstrom said. "So yeah, this will be revenge for us."
In a repeat of last year's EHL finals, Dubai won the first match, but the Storms took the second 4-3 in overtime to force the finals into a decider, which will be played at the Dubai Mall tonight at 8.15pm.
In the play-offs, the Abu Dhabi team were shocked by Al Ain Theebs in their opening match, but won the last two to book their place in the final. Fagerstrom believes those performances gives his team a psychological boost going into the championship decider.
"I think we have grown as a team and we showed that in the semi-finals against Theebs," he said. "We lost the first game and then we won two matches to proceed to the finals. So we know how to play with our back against the wall and I think that will definitely give us the confidence."
However, Fagerstrom and Yuri Faikov, the Storms coach, both know that the Camels will be desperate for a win after missing out in the last two seasons.
"We don't really talk about what happened last year," said Fagerstrom, whose team bounced back after losing the first game to edge the finals 2-1. "It is a new year, a new game and new players.
"It's a big game. I think we are ready to give a 45 minutes hard work to win the game, but it's going to be a big battle. I know they have lost two times in a row now in the EHL finals, so they really want to win this.
"We need to step up and give an effort for the whole 45 minutes. That's the key thing."
"This is the final game of the championship and so, of course, we have everything to play for," said Faikov. "It has been a battle between the Storms and the Camels all the way through [the season] and this last game is the decider. We will try to our best to take first place."
For Faikov, who doubles up as the national team coach as well, a win tonight will also be a major boost for his Emirati players, who will be representing the UAE at the Challenge Cup of Asia, which will be held in India from March 16-25.
"They [the Emirati players] have done very well by doing all the scoring in the 3-2 and 3-1 results over the Al Ain Theebs in the semi-final play-off," Faikov said.
"I hope they can do the same again in this game and take that confidence into the tournament we have in March."