Playoffs preview

Friday, 13th April 2012

Manchester Phoenix player coach Tony Hand has warned that no one can take anything for granted as his team heads into the EPL Playoff Finals this weekend at the Skydome in Coventry.

Phoenix, who defeated Swindon Wildcats 6-1 on aggregate last weekend to qualify for the finals, will play a mouth-watering trans Pennine derby against the Sheffield Steeldogs in the second semi-final of the weekend on Saturday night at 7pm. Earlier in the day, the first semi-final at 4pm will see current EPL League Champions and last season’s Playoff winners Guildford Flames take on the Slough Jets.

Hand said: “Everyone knows that you throw the form book out of the window at times like these.

“It’s all about who plays best on the day. It’s whoever wants it and whoever’s ready to show up. Obviously, Andre will have his team ready, like he has all season, and they have plenty of players who can be a danger.”

Hand will have the luxury of a full squad icing on Saturday. After a season plagued with injuries – including a broken ankle that kept Hand himself out for nearly four months – a full squad took to the ice for only the second time this season against Swindon last Sunday.

Hand said: “We keep talking about injuries, but we’ve had a terrible season for injuries. Not just the day to day knocks that you expect, but the long-term injuries that keep guys out for weeks. We’ve had plenty of those and we’ve had to work hard around them.

“But we’ve got a full squad, we’re playing great and we’re looking forward to it. The guys are pretty pumped about it. No-one wants to finish the season early; everyone wants to go right through to the finals. We’ll get some good practice in before the weekend, and I’ve told the guys to take care of themselves in the meantime, and we’ll go to Coventry, enjoy it and try and come back with a trophy.”