MK LIGHTNING take on Bracknell Bees in an English Premier League double-header this weekend, with the aim of winning back-to-back games for the first time this season.
Sunday’s victory over Basingstoke Bison made it two wins out of two for Nick Poole’s men at Planet Ice this term, but it’s away from Milton Keynes that they have struggled, losing to Bison 24 hours earlier and at Guildford Flames on the opening weekend.
Going into Saturday’s home game sat eighth in the table – albeit having played fewer games than most of their rivals – Lightning take on a Bracknell side full of confidence after a surprisingly good start to the campaign.
A disappointing season-opening weekend saw the Bees fail to collect a single point, but they bounced back with a four-point weekend seven days later, including an away win over Sheffield Steeldogs. And last Sunday they avenged an earlier defeat to Guildford by winning at the Spectrum.
Along with Lightning, Bracknell are the only other side to have beaten early league leaders Basingstoke, and look on course for a much better season than when they finished second from bottom in 2011/2012. That campaign saw Lightning win four out of their six meetings with the Berkshire side.
After a difficult start to this season for Lightning, which included a memorable thrashing of Manchester Phoenix in their opening game, consistency is now the key for the city side, who should look at clashes against Bracknell as a realistic opportunity to secure their first four-point weekend, according to general manager Vito Rausa.
“At home you want to entertain your fans, and away it’s about getting the points and running,” said Rausa. “We want to put on a good show in front of our own fans.
“Bracknell are a good side. They’re not much different from last season but are benefitting from the continuity that comes from not making too many changes. But with all due respect to them, we want to pick up four points. That’s our aim every weekend. Now we want to get our first away win of the season.
“We want to make sure we keep our defence tight, and then we have the flair players going forward to beat anyone in this league. Both sides have some great attacking players so it should make for a good game.”
After missing last weekend’s matches with Basingstoke, Adam Calder will return to action for Lightning against Bracknell, but Chris Wiggins is expected to miss out again because of a hand injury.
Rausa was keen to pay tribute to Ross Bowers who put in an outstanding shift against Bison last Sunday, despite only undergoing knee surgery the previous Wednesday.
“He should have been out for six to eight weeks,” said Rausa. “I’ve seen the holes in his knee and I can’t believe he played. It’s fantastic. He deserves so much credit.
“That win was our best performance of the season and now we want to take that momentum into this weekend’s games and pick up four points.”
Face-off at Planet Ice on Saturday night is at 7.00pm.