x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Coach has twin vision as Storms face Mighty Camels in EHL finals

The duel Yuri Faikov hopes the Emirates Hockey League finals will enable him to provide his Emirati players with more ice time before the national team's Challenge Cup games.

The Abu Dhabi Storms, in black jerseys, are looking to retain their Emirates Hockey League crown and also give their Emirati players valuable ice time ahead of the national team's Challenge Cup of Asia games.
The Abu Dhabi Storms, in black jerseys, are looking to retain their Emirates Hockey League crown and also give their Emirati players valuable ice time ahead of the national team's Challenge Cup of Asia games.

ABU DHABI // Yuri Faikov will be looking at the best-of-three Emirates Hockey League final in two very different ways.

As the coach of the Abu Dhabi Storms, the Belarusian is keen for his club side to defend their title against the Dubai Mighty Camels.

In his other role, as the coach of the national side, he sees the series as giving vital practice to his international players for their Challenge Cup of Asia campaign from March 16 to 25.

"We want to win the final and use these games for our preparation for the national team's travel to India," said Faikov ahead of Monday night's first game.

"For this reason, we want to provide more ice time for the Emirati players. They 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.

"I would like to think they will carry on that momentum to the final and then with the national team. We don't have much time for practice games but the final would be the ideal preparation."

The Storms team consists mostly of Emirati internationals with their foreign players, Matti Fagerstrom, Juhani Ijjaz, Kellin Carson and Yannick Wong, adding stability to the side.

The Camels have reached the past two finals, and Ron Murphy, the captain, said they can make it third time lucky.

"We have not been able to close out the finals both times," the Canadian said. "We have had a one-game lead and couldn't find a way to win the final game.

"I think it is a mental thing. We definitely have the talent to win, we just need to concentrate and finish the season strong."

The two teams know each other well.

"They [the Storms] are a well-coached team and play their positions well," Murphy said.

"We will not try anything new but stick to our game plan from the regular season games.

"We will have all of our team available. We don't have any significant injuries at the moment, so all of our top players will be available, and we have two goalies available, too."

After finishing first place in the regular season, the Camels will host the finals opener on their home ice at the Dubai Mall.

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"Home ice advantage is big for us, as we don't have to sit on a bus for two hours before the game, so this should help the Camels," Murphy said.

"We finished first in the league and now we need to win this championship. The guys are extremely hungry and are tired of coming up short in the play-offs.

"Both teams are coming off hard wins in the semi-finals, so this should be no exception, I expect the games to be very close in score, it will be a great final series for this season."

 

apassela@thenational.ae