Hat Tricks rumble with Battle Creek - Series Preview (1/24 & 25)
The Danbury Hat Tricks look to snap an uncharacteristic three-game skid against the Battle Creek Rumble Bees this weekend at Danbury Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 8 p.m. both nights. Live game streaming will be hosted on the Hat Tricks' Youtube channel.
Let's take a look at what fans can expect on the ice.
McCreary takes the ice
With some open spots to fill on the blueline, Danbury fans will get their first opportunity to see head coach Billy McCreary take the ice this season. McCreary has skated in a pair of road games this season, though has yet to play in front of the Hat City Faithful.
McCreary will slot in on defense, as Martin Tuma wraps up a three-game suspension and Thomas Freeman recovers from a lower-body injury. Aaron Atwell is also listed as questionable as he deals with an undisclosed injury. The holes in the blueline create more of a reliance on both McCreary and top pairing defenseman Steve Brown to chew up major minutes.
the hungry rumble bees
There's no way to sugarcoat the Rumble Bees' record. Battle Creek is 1-30-0-0. Their one win came back on January 3rd against the Elmira Enforcers, a dramatic 2-1 triumph. Jake Eisenhower stopped 41 shots. Jake Mortley had a goal and an assist. It looked like a turning point for the most unfortunate team in the FPHL.
Since then, the Bees have lost six in a row. But they have played competitively: they carried a 1-1 score into the third period against Mentor, and leapt out to a 2-0 lead against Port Huron before allowing nine unanswered goals in a 10-3 loss.
Battle Creek has the capability to hang with teams, they just have the propensity to fall apart at the first sign of trouble. In their first visit to Danbury Arena they kept things interesting, falling 4-2 the first night and scoring first the second before losing 10-2.
The Hat Tricks don't have the luxury of taking this team lightly. They are missing too many players, and have lost too many games of late, to be comfortable.
rectifying the powerplay
If Aaron Atwell is unable to go this weekend, the powerplay will be losing one of its key contributors. The special teams unit looked inconsistent against the Elmira Enforcers, struggling to break out of their own zone and failing to generate much pressure in front of the net beyond the odd screen by Phil Bronner.
Steve Mele and Carter Shinkaruk will likely be the primary directors of traffic from the point on the man advantage this series. Going up against a penalty kill that is only successful 66% of the time, Danbury should be able to impose their will and make the Bees pay on the powerplay.
The betting world has a term for lopsided matchups: trap games. The Hat Tricks may be sitting pretty atop the Eastern Division standings, but they do not have the capability to take this opponent lightly. Battle Creek will be coming into this series looking to make a statement against a top team, playing with a sense of desperation.
The Hat Tricks will need to stomp on the throat early and demoralize Battle Creek. Keep things simple and let the systems go to work.
Tickets for this weekend's series are available by clicking here.