This Saturday sees another double header take place at the Dundalk Ice Dome. It’s Dundalk against Dublin as the Dundalk Bulls take on the Dublin Rams. In the IIHL, it’s the Dublin Rams v Dundalk Bulls facing off at 8:00 p.m. While in the IIHL Development Division, it’s the Dundalk Bulls ‘B’ v Dublin Rams ‘B’ following the first game with face-off scheduled for 10:30 p.m.
If you have a look at the IIHL League Table, you’ll see that mathematically the Bulls haven’t won the league yet! I know that everyone is saying that the Bulls have it won already but the Rams could be the difference between them winning it officially this Saturday or in 2 weeks time when they are due to take on the Hawks. If the Bulls beat (or even tie with) the Rams on Saturday night, then the Bulls will have officially won the first ever Irish Ice Hockey League. If the Rams win and they need to win, they would go to within 8 points of the Bulls with three games left to be played. However, even if that were to happen the Rams would have to win all of their remaining games and then pray for a miracle. That miracle would be that the Bulls lose all of their remaining games and let’s be honest, nobody can see that happening.
Anyway, let’s get back to the game at hand and leave all of the different possibilities to the side while keeping them in mind. The Bulls are coming back from a weekend off, and must certainly be eager to get back into the swing of things and officially win the league once and for all. They last played the Belfast City Bruins and they easily disposed of them 17-3. That game saw the Bulls take the lead after only 37 seconds through Eric Hogberg. Hogberg went onto add three more goals in that game and an assist for a 5 point game. Captain Kenny Redmond also had a big night with 3 goals and 3 assists while both Sean Dooley and Robert Grochowicz both netted hat-tricks. Peter Pucek had a brace of goals for the second time in as many games with his second the last of the game and an absolute beauty. Some nice passing around the Bruins zone was finished nicely by Pucek with a slap shot into the top corner. So the Bulls are moving along nicely as they have done all season and all of their players are contributing now and they are without a doubt the hot favourites to win on Saturday.
The Rams are coming off an extremely important win against the Flyers I.H.C. last Saturday night which guaranteed them 2nd place and kept there title hopes mathematically alive. That game finished 8-4 and was a pretty close game throughout. The Rams took the lead early on and finished the 1st period, 2 goals to the good with Tomas Pactina and Brandon Chalazan netting for them. Pactina went onto add 2 more for his hat-trick. However, the Rams were pushed very hard in the final 2 periods with the Flyers getting scores in each period. Although the score line suggests the Rams had a comfortable evening, if the Flyers had been able to finish their shots, the Rams may not have had things as easy as the score line suggests.
However, a boost for the game on Saturday is that there is talk of Eric Tobia returning in nets. He has been missing for the last few games and Sean Gibson has stepped in as replacement but Tobia gives his team more confidence. If the Rams have any chance of getting a result against the Bulls they’ll need Tobia in nets. They’ll also need key players like Brandon Chalazan, Hunter Cape and Marek Kovacik to be on form along with their defensive corps and grinders to mix things up a little. They’ll need to get in the Bulls’ faces and be physical. Look for the likes of Bret Dillabio, Aaron Cuskeran and even Ross O’Driscoll to finish there checks and intimidate the Bulls.
The second game that evening is the clash between these 2 teams’ respective ‘B’ teams in the IIHL Development Division. Last time around, it was an excellent match with the Rams ‘B’ just about winning 4-3. The Bulls ‘B’ need the win. They currently sit 2nd from bottom on 3 points with their goal difference the only thing saving them from bottom. They need the win if they wish to be in with a chance of getting into the playoffs. A win would bring them into that pack that are all fighting for a playoff spot. That group includes all of their local rivals such as the Whalers and Ravens with the Hawks B and Eagles in there as well.
The Rams need the win if they have realistic hopes of competing against Kilkenny City Storm and the Dublin Wolves for that top spot. Last game around they were short benched and simply out worked by a Ravens team who played as a unit. They will need to have a full team and a much better work ethic if they want to win. I expect the Dundalk Bulls to claim the league title this weekend but I expect the Dublin Rams B to gain the spoils over their Dundalk counterparts.
The games take place this weekend with the Dublin Rams facing off against the Dundalk Bulls in the IIHL at 8:00 p.m. This is followed at 10:30 p.m. with the IIHL Development Division game, Dundalk Bulls ‘B’ v Dublin Rams ‘B’. Both games as always take place at the Dundalk Ice Dome. The IIHL game is #8 for adults and #5 for children under 16 years of age. While entry for the Development Division game is free so why not stay around and get both games in. It should be a great night and one the whole family can enjoy.