Ola Bjerkevoll hears head coach Dixon in happy mood and welcoming the performance of one of his young players.
Guildford Flames finished their last home game in the regular season on a high note with a 5-2 win over Sheffield Steeldogs last Saturday.
The guests scored first as Arnoldas Bosas put the Steeldogs in front. The home-side’s response came from Tuomas Santavuori, while Jared Lane and Michal Satek, used the middle period to push away from the Steeldogs. Andy McKinney and Marek Maslonka added two goals in the final period before the Steeldogs scored a consolation goal.
Flames Head Coach Paul Dixon told Sport In Surrey he was pleased with the win even though they started poorly:
“That was a hard game for us, Sheffield’s been a hard team for us all year [2W, 3L, before this game]. That’s the last home game of the regular season and it’s nice to finish on a win.”
It was the Steeldogs who struck first as the away team took the lead through Bosas after only three minutes and 53 seconds played. The reply from the Flames came only 64 seconds later as Santavuori sent a shot past away-goalie James Hadfield.
The first period ebbed out with Sheffield the better team as they led the shots on goal statistics by 14 to 8.
The second half started poor from the Flames as Sheffield bombarded Mike Will in the Flames goal. Within the first 30 seconds the away side put three shots at Will who pulled out some amazing saves to stop the assault on his net. The speakers played Pat Benatar’s ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’ in celebration.
Dixon was proud of his goalkeeper after the match: “I thought Will made three or four huge saves that on another night should have been goals. […] We should have been four or five down at that point and we weren’t.”
Then local kid Jared Lane stepped up with four minutes to go in the second period. The 18-year old, who is still part of the Flames junior team, sent the puck flying from the blueline and it found its way into the back of the net as the crowd went ballistic at seeing one of their juniors score a goal.
“It’s nice for the boy to get some ice time and he scored, I think, with his second shift, it doesn’t always happen that way but it did tonight,” chuckled Dixon when asked about the youngster’s goal.
With just 40 seconds to go in the period Satek scored Guildford’s third of the night on a counter attack. He was put in on goal by McKinney and made no mistake from short range as he slotted the puck into the bottom corner to put the Flames 3-1 up going into the final period.
The Steeldogs looked defeated after that and McKinney and Maslonka both put two more behind the away-goalkeeper midway through the third period before Shudra made the scoreline a little more respectable five minutes from the end.
After the match, Dixon praised the opponents:
“They play a very different kind of hockey to a lot of the other teams, they’re very good, they shut you down, they play very defensive-minded and they’re good at what they do. They make it hard to play against.”
Now the playoffs await and Dixon has no real preference over who he want with him in the four-team group:
“I think for the season that we’ve had, I think all the teams are capable of beating anybody. You’re down to two game series against each team. On the night, you just got to show up and play 60 minutes, you might not play your best 60 minutes but you got to dig in.”
The Flames lost their last match of the regular season 7-6 away at to the Peterborough Phantoms on Sunday evening.