Evening Express

Ice hockey: Aberdeen Lynx in hunt for win but know Kirkcaldy Kestrels will aim to be swooping at title

Aberdeen Lynx are back in action.

Aberdeen Lynx head coach Owen Reynolds hopes a healthy-sized squad can see them claim another win against Kirkcaldy Kestrels this weekend.

Reynolds’ side travel to the second-placed Kestrels, who are still in the hunt for the Scottish National League title, on Sunday.

Third-placed Lynx, having played two more matches than Kirkcaldy, are realistically out of the hunt.

But their coach hopes they can build on a 3-1 derby win over Dundee Tigers last Saturday.

Reynolds said: “They’ve got a really good blend of very experienced older guys and incredibly talented youngsters.

“They’re potential candidates for winning the league this year.

“Kirkcaldy lost to us earlier in the season and to Dundee Comets the weekend past, but they haven’t had many defeats.

“We can go into the game with a fair degree of confidence that we can beat them.

“But they’re at home and they’ll obviously be a lot stronger and a lot more confident in their own rink.”

Last weekend the Lynx triumphed due to goals by Iain Malcolm (2) and Elliot Willets, with the Tigers scoring one in reply through Scott Turnbull, while the Kestrels were beaten 7-6 in a top-of-the-table clash with Dundee Comets.

Reynolds’ confidence for Sunday’s game comes from his feeling, if it weren’t for factors preventing the Lynx having their full squad consistently, his side would march to the league crown.

He said: “Realistically, there is a top tier of four or five teams in the league and three below that who, on their day, could beat anyone.

“We’re certainly regarded as one of the better teams.

“But we’ve got guys who work offshore and Jordan Leyden, who’s effectively our star player, he gets paid to play football so that always comes first.

“Everyone looks at our squad and thinks we should be winning the league, but we can’t ice that squad very often and it’s really big name players that work offshore.

“For this weekend it’s looking relatively healthy. We’ve got a few suspensions still to contend with, but we’ve got a few more players coming back we haven’t had for the last few games.

“We should hopefully have Jordan back in the squad. At the start of the year he had a back injury, then he picked up a back strain. But hopefully he’ll be fit to play.

“We’re very fortunate at the depth we have in our squad. There are no real weak links and for the last three games we’ve been down to the bare bones, but it’s still a good standard of player that we’ve got.

“The only thing is that you usually aim to rotate three lines of five players, but we’ve only had two.

“Although they’re good players, they’re getting fatigued.

“But the fact that, even without renowned goalscorers, like Jordan Leyden or Ross McIntosh, we’ve got plenty of guys who are capable of picking up goals and points.

“Mark Laing has been exceptional, unfortunately he’s one of the guys that works away a lot.

“Adding Elliot (Willets) to the squad at the start of the year has really helped us out, because he’s young, but he’s got a bit of experience. He’s fitted in quite nicely at the right time.”