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Checking out the Pirates

Saturday night hockey involves the first Steeldogs vs Pirates game of the season.

Stats man Adam gives his thoughts on what is in store for us.

The first question is what can I say that we don’t already know about Hull?

They return the vast majority of the team that won three trophies last year including the same coaching staff and leadership unit. Most players will very familiar to fans; the likes of Hewitt, Chamberlain, Davies will be their big scoring threats. Depth up front in terms of Towner, Fisher and Bonner. And a blue line that features the likes of Kevin Phillips, Jon Kirk and Lee Haywood.

The key departure is the loss of Archer to Leeds, who was an integral component of their second line for much of the season. And other than a couple of British prospects there isn’t a lot of new British faces in the line-up, although with the success last year, maybe they don’t need to.

Their key additions are their two imports. Despite wanting to re-sign Lubo and Karlsson they have replaced both with two new guys to the league. Peter Fabus arrives with a considerable resume, both in terms of length and also quality. Formerly an NHL draft pick, albeit nearly two decades ago, Fabus will add experience and goals – and has already chipped in with several.

Their other non-British player is Sislannikovs, who if nothing else will give any commentary team a headache! He arrives with a certain amount of hype – the announcement of his signing was delayed by Hull over the summer because he was training with a KHL team – and a resume that does look like this guy has a great deal of potential. Still in his early twenties, he has racked up appearances in some leagues of a much higher quality than the NIHL (with all due respect to the current league). And if he can settle and proves to be at least nearly as good as advertised, could be a considerable coup for Hull. Early returns have proven positive, as he two goals and 6 assists, doing all his scoring so far at 5 on 5.

Anyone who has watched even one Hull vs Dogs game knows the type of game that we can anticipate. Hull like to dominate on the shot clock and do so by playing a very in-your-face style of game, with plenty of hits and physicality. Chamberlain, Hewitt and Haywood in particular are keen to get stuck in and look to rile opposition players and use that physicality to generate their offense.

They are often one of the highest scoring teams in the league and can be deadly on the powerplay too. It will be a real clash of styles as Hull bring their high-octane offense to play against the Dogs defensive dominance. However, early results from this season show that the Dogs can mix it with offensive teams and are no slouches with scoring themselves.

One thing is for certain, there will be plenty of battles all over the ice. It will likely be dramatic and it will add another chapter to the rivalry. As objective and even-keel as I try to stay during games; ones against Hull do not often feature in that category as they always seem to get my blood bubbling, if not boiling at times. Hull will pack out the away blocks, and I hope that we can do the same in the others.

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Roger Williams

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