DANNY Stewart hopes Newcastle Vipers’ siege mentality can carry them to another memorable victory at league leaders Belfast Giants tonight.
Beset by financial problems off- the-ice and down to the barest of bones on it, the Vipers surmounted those issues to record their first win of the season at Hull on Tuesday.
That 3-2 overtime win lifted the spirits of all involved with the stricken Vipers, who have shown remarkable resilience in the face of their problems. But it gets no easier for them with back-to-back road games against Belfast in the Challenge Cup and then Cardiff, who have won 16 on the spin.
“It was a great reward for all the guys for the way that they’ve been reacting to all the problems,” Stewart said.
“We have talked about it as a group and the situation is tough with the off-the-ice issues. Of course it affects you because there are equipment issues and you’re left short handed at certain points.
“But to be fair to everyone involved with the club, it has brought us all that bit closer together and I think we saw that on Tuesday and hopefully it will help us to start moving up the league. Other teams are probably much deeper than us but there won’t be many closer.
“It was exactly the kind of performance that we need. We need to keep things tight and try to get a break here and there, which we can make the most of.
“We know that Belfast is a big, big challenge for us but after Tuesday then we have that bit more belief and that bit more confidence too.
“Plus there is a chance for us to make it into the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup which after everything would be an absolutely awesome achievement.”
Although the immediate priority is the double header that begins tonight, thoughts are already turning to the January 3 visit of Nottingham when Vipers need another big turn out from their fans to keep the wolves from the door.
“The fans have been absolutely brilliant, backing us in numbers since all of this started,” he said.
“But we need another big gate against Nottingham. We can probably just about see it out for another week or so but we really need people to keep supporting us.
“It’s tough to say that because the guys have their pride and we don’t want to be relying on the supporters but we’re just asking them one more time to put the past behind them and anyone who has a connection with Newcastle ice hockey to support us.”
The Vipers will leave it late to decide whether to include Paul Sample in their travelling party. The British forward has been suffering with the flu and was not well enough to play at Hull – but they were waiting until this morning to decide whether he had recovered sufficiently.