Peterborough Phantoms v Hull Seahawks: Matty Davies believes his roster upgrade is best in NIHL National
Davies headed into his organisation’s inaugural NIHL National campaign in September 2022 knowing he was in for a baptism of fire, although little could have prepared him for the seven months that followed.
A late start to recruitment, plus visa delays leaving import players stranded until late October - combined with the usual on and off-ice issues that test any team - combined to ensure Hull finished.
It proved a frantic summer, an even more frantic season and one from which Davies and co-owner Joe Lamplough will have learned plenty.
Heading into tonight’s 2023-24 season opener at Peterborough Phantoms, however, Davies and his team are much-better positioned.
Recruitment - including all three imports - was completed nice and early with Davies signing everyone he wanted to and pre-season has provided everything he was looking for in terms of preparation.
Sunday sees the Seahawks play host to Swindon Wildcats a game which, combined with tonight’s trip to one of the league’s most inhospitable buildings, adds up to a tough opening weekend, one Davies welcomes warmly.
“It’s been a good pre-season,” said Davies. “We had the players in on September 1 so we had a good week of training, were on the ice every day which was probably more than most teams and we got a lot conditioning work in off the ice, too
“Last year, given we were late starting with everything, we were so under-prepared. This year I wanted to over-prepared if anything.”
Tonight offers Davies the first genuine chance to prove how much of an upgrade his roster is on last season.
“I’m expecting us to challenge in every game,” he added. “I’m not here to get by and just scrape into the play-offs. We want to win every game we’re in.
“We couldn’t have had a tougher weekend to open up with. Peterborough is notoriously one of the toughest places to go to and, for me, Swindon look to have the best team on paper, looking at what they’ve done this summer.
“Personally, I feel we’re the team that has improved the most out of anybody, though, in terms of what we’ve added. But that doesn’t mean anything yet, we’ll see how it all looks against the other teams after these first few weeks.”