BRAEHEAD CLAN head coach John Tripp knows that is his team are to maintain their position in the top eight of the EIHL, they must put in some good performances over the next few weeks. However, he is not allowing his players to think about the ultimate goal; he is insisting they take things match by match. “We don’t look at the big picture, it’s in the back of our minds but we take it game by game,” the Canadian said.

“We have some very good chances over the next month to collect some points although our next few weeks will be tough. But if we keep focusing on our small goals then hopefully we will achieve our big goal of staying in the top eight. But nothing comes for free – you have to earn it.”

A narrow 1-0 defeat to league leaders Cardiff Devils on Wednesday was Braehead’s sixth defeat of January but with a double-header against Manchester Storm this weekend, followed by back-to-back matches against Fife Flyers and Dundee Stars in the next few weeks, Tripp knows his team must be on top form if they are to rack up some wins.

“We competed well against Cardiff and that’s very positive but in the end, you’re not going to get wins in you can’t get your scorers to score and that’s the issue at the moment,” he said. “This weekend against Manchester will be a good test – it will be two tough games because they’re a very good team. They’re rink is actually smaller and so that makes it harder to play. So we need to play smart and if we do that we’ll have a good chance to win.”

A heavy schedule over Christmas and new year did, admits Tripp, take its toll on his team but he is confident that his players are revitalised and in a position to start picking up points on a consistent basis.

“Over Christmas, we were getting a little tired but in January, we cut down our practice time a little so we’re feeling good,” he said. “It’s about staying fit and doing what we need to do during the games – I don’t think we have any mental or physical fatigue so we’re managing things well.”