After an incredibly difficult season for the Cardiff Fire in their first year in the NIHL 1 South division, Mark Cuddihy’s side picked up their first points of the season with back-to-back overtime losses this weekend against the Invicta Dynamos and Swindon Wildcats.
On Saturday night the Fire fell 4 – 3 in overtime to the Dynamos in a wide open game, while Sunday night the team defied all odds in a 3 – 2 overtime loss to the Wildcats, where Fire goaltender Jordan Lawday stopped 76 of 79 saves on the night.
Fire forward Josh Haslam believes he played the best games of his season this past weekend, with a goal in each of the two games.
“On an individual basis, I think I played probably the best two games of my season so far,” Haslam said after the weekend.
“I was mentally prepared knowing how Invicta and Swindon set up during faceoffs and both defensive and offensive play. I felt confident prior but putting one in the net adds to that”.
“My face-off and defensive play were strong and credit to my line, their awareness, positional play and communication just allowed me to play the best standard I know I can as a centre”.
At 23-years-old, Haslam has found his form over recent weeks, while the team as a whole have also shown their potential with much closer scorelines over the last couple of games, culminating in this weekends results.
“When you’re on the bench and you see every teammate giving their all, it strives you to continue the hard work shift after shift, making sure we are playing the best possible hockey”.
And playing the best possible hockey is exactly what the Fire did this weekend. Coming into their game against Invicta on Saturday the team always had a chance as the Dynamos have had their struggles themselves this year. However, it was Sunday night that many ruled the Fire out completely, but Haslam and the rest of the Fire were spurred on after a good result the night before.
“The result against Invicta definitely installed further belief in ourselves. I feel Saturday we deserved that win and we were just unlucky to lose it in overtime, as for three periods we were the better team”.
“We knew going against Swindon it would be tough. We had the right attitude and pre-game preparation, ensuring every player was switched on a dialled in”.
“As a unit we attacked, took our chances, we were clinical in defence and played an offensive game creating opportunities which were evident with the result”.
“It would have been great to beat Swindon in overtime, but we are getting closer to our main objective. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day”.
With only a handful of games left in the season, and only one home game left the Fire are just looking to end things on a high right now, before turning their attention to the off-season.
“As anyone would know, it’s been a tough season and a challenge in itself to keep going after continued losses” Haslam explained.
“Those two points meant everything to us. It shows we can compete and have the potential to beat other teams in this league”.
“We were ecstatic both Saturday and Sunday. It’s a team game and every player stepped up and played their part. Again, arguably two of our best games of the season”.
With goals on both Saturday and Sunday, Haslam had his first goals of the year after a season with three assists prior to this weekends action, and now the team look ahead to a road trip to take on Streatham on Saturday night with a game against the Milton Keynes Thunder the following weekend.
Cardiff then finishes up their year at home against the Basingstoke Bison on March 11th.