Paul Dixon: ‘Every game matters and we’re looking to get back to our style’

The Guildford Flames must “bounce back” from disappointment in the Challenge Cup ahead of a pivotal weekend of play in the Elite League, head coach Paul Dixon told British Ice Hockey.

The Flames were defeated 4-0 by the Belfast Giants in the first leg of the Challenge Cup semi-final on Wednesday [16 January] and return to the ice with a difficult back-to-back versus the Cardiff Devils and Coventry Blaze this weekend.

“It’s disappointment, first and foremost,” Dixon said when asked about his squad’s response to defeat in Belfast.

“It’s such a shame because we’ve been playing really well and we’ve been so consistent all year. We had the two losses to the Storm, where we dropped below par, but we’ve had some good results lately. We should’ve been full of confidence [for the semi-final] but we just played below par.

“It wasn’t one or two guys, it was a team performance where we didn’t seem to play with the energy levels that we usually have. We’re really disappointed with the result, but these things happen and now it’s important to address some items that went wrong previously.”

Paul Dixon: ‘There are no easy nights in the Elite League’

Peter Crinella, of Paul Dixon’s Guildford Flames (Image: John Unwins)

While Dixon expects a response from his team, he placed the loss in the context of an impressive season for the franchise.

“We’ll be looking for a bounce back this weekend but I can’t be too critical because the boys have really bought into the style of hockey we play in Guildford and brought that effort in 99.9 percent of the games so far,” he added. “Unfortunately, it was just one of those nights for us.”

When asked to outline his expectations for Cardiff and Coventry, the 49-year-old spoke about the importance of playing error-free hockey.

“There are no easy nights in the Elite League: every team has players [who can score] and goalies who can shut you out on any given night,” Dixon said. “You have to try not to concede mistakes because teams capitalise, as we saw on Wednesday.

“We have to make sure that we don’t make any mistakes this weekend against two very good teams. But every game matters and we’re just looking to jump back on and get back to our style of play.”

How will Paul Dixon’s side perform this weekend? Join the conversation by tweeting @BritIceHockey.