HULL PIRATES’ player-coach Jason Hewitt says he has sympathy for opposite number Sam Zajac, although that is likely to be in short supply when the two clash on the ice in Blackburn tonight.
Hull head to Lancashire - the Chiefs’ temporary home - looking to make it three wins in as many meetings against their Yorkshire rivals, the last encounter producing a comfortable 6-2 win on home ice.
Earlier this week, the Chiefs had some of their equipment, including sticks and a set of brand new helmets, stolen from a parked van in Batley, forcing them to undertake a mad scramble to find replacement gear in time for today’s clash.
“It’s already tough for them as a team, kind of living on the road as they are without a rink,” said Hewitt. “I do sympathise with that because it’s hard to prepare as a player-coach anyway and what happened earlier this week is just another headache you don’t need heading into a weekend.”
Hewitt said his team would be looking to maintain the simple approach both today and for tomorrow’s visit from Basingstoke Bison, a formula which tends to bring them success.
“We’ve got a pretty simple recipe for being successful, so when we stray away from it or change too much, we’re not as effective,” added Hewitt. “We have got skill - but we’re very simple in the way we operate.”
Hewitt would like his team to repeat the start they enjoyed against Leeds last time out, when they effectively won the game in the first period when scoring four unanswered goals.
“We always try and start on the front foot - especially at home - and we like to put teams under pressure,” he added. “We executed our game plan really well at the beginning of that game and they couldn’t recover.”
Tomorrow's visit from Basingstoke brings Hewitt up against his former Sheffield Steelers' and Great Britain team-mate, Ashley Tait who, in his second season as player-coach, has overseen a solid start by the Bison. The visitors sit third in the NIHL National standings, two points and two places ahead of the Pirates.
"You could probably say that the way they have been so far this season is quite similar to us," added Hewitt, "They are just ahead of us in the standings, but this league and the way it is, there are going to be periods - like we saw last week with Swindon losing twice - where everyone is going to have hot and cold patches.
"If you look around at the results, Telford are obviously flying at the moment, but Basingstoke are quite similar to us."