Hull Pirates and Sheffield Steeldogs strive for positive response

JASON HEWITT will be looking for a swift reaction from his Hull Pirates team as they head into the weekend looking to bounce back from their midweek loss at leaders Telford.

Having enjoyed two wins in his first weekend as the Pirates’ new player-coach, Hewitt got his first bitter taste of losing in the role in Wednesday night’s 6-2 defeat.

The former Sheffield Steelers and GB forward and his players face another tough night with their last visit of the regular season to Basingstoke Bison.

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Two previous visits have left the Pirates empty-handed and they will probably fancy their chances more of picking up points when the two sides reconvene in Hull on Sunday night, the East Yorkshire side having won both previous encounters against the Bison on home ice.

Sheffield Steeldogs will be hoping home comforts can give them a timely lift as they strive to get their season kick-started in order to take some decent form into the play-offs.

Like his counterpart at Hull, Steeldogs’ player-coach Greg Wood will be hoping his players can respond to last Sunday’s 8-3 defeat at home to title-chasing Milton Keynes, a game which was lost by the end of the first period with the visitors 4-0 up.

Since then, the South Yorkshire club - who remain in the eighth and final play-off spot, nine points ahead of Bracknell Bees - have signed teenage defenceman, Lewis Baldwin.

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The 17-year-old became available following the collapse of Manchester Phoenix, who were forced to withdraw from the league after running into dire financial trouble.

Wood, whose team host Peterborough on Saturday night before taking on Guildford Flames at the same venue on Sunday, said Baldwin’s arrival was in keeping with the club’s desire to build a core of young, British players that will remain in place for a number of years.

“With the season closing out, it is essential we strengthen and build for the future - Lewis is certainly part of that plan,” said Wood.

“As a club we are doing everything to build a solid base of young players that we can use for years to come. At the start of the season we knew this would be a transition season with so many changes.

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“We’re still in that phase but we are trying to build, week in, week out.”

Baldwin, who contributed one goal and two assists in his 37 games with Phoenix, added: “I was uncertain about where I was going to go.

“I just want to play hockey. I think I am quite an offensive defenceman and I’ll be hoping to step up. I want to get some wins here and push for a good run in the play-offs.”

** Hull Pirates will once again play Sheffield Steeldogs for the Bradfield Brewery Cup.

The first leg will be played at the Hull Arena on Sunday, Feb 19 (5.30pm), while the second leg will be played at Ice Sheffield on Friday, March 3 (7.30pm).