By Frankie Notaro

A tough weekend ahead as the Bristol Pitbulls get ready to face the Milton Keynes Lightning at the Pound night and then take the trip to Ice Sheffield on Sunday evening to take on the Sheffield Steeldogs for their away fixture of the weekend. 

Milton Keynes Lightning

The Milton Keynes Lightning are entering Saturday on a high as they are coming off a 7-6 win after overtime to beat the Swindon Wildcats to make it to the Challenge Cup final against the Hull Seahawks. The Lightning currently sit in 2nd place within the league standings after completing 38 games they have managed 58 points from 29 wins and 9 losses. In terms of the league, Milton Keynes are coming into this weekend on a 3 game winning streak after 4 point weekend from being able to beat the Solway Sharks and the Peterborough Phantoms last weekend. 

The Lightning’s power play this season has been a big part of their success with them being able to use 46 out of 154 (30%) opportunities when they had a man advantage with both Dillon Lawrence and Tim Wallace able to score 9 goals each while Milton Keynes have been on the power play. A 76% success rate when it comes to the Lightning’s penalty kill could give them the edge this weekend as they have been able to make it the whole way through 113 out of 149 times where they have found themselves short-handed in games. Milton Keynes have been able to get 13 short-handed goals to the back of the net and have been scored by Ross Venus, Dillon Lawrence, Toms Rurkis, Liam Stewart, Mack Stewart and Corey McEwen while also only having 3 short-handed goals scored against them in 38 games.

There have been a total of 1,212 shots against the Lightnings’ netminders this season with them averaging 32 shots on goal against them per game. On the other side, Milton Keynes have tested the netminders across the league 1.439 times this season and are currently having roughly 38 shots on goal per game. The Lightning have only had 119 goals scored against them this season and then have been able to score 207 goals themselves. 

The players that need to be kept an eye on throughout Saturday’s game will be Dillon Lawrence and Rory Herrman. In 34 games, Dillon Lawrence has been able to collect a total of 67 points from scoring 33 points and receiving 34 assists while also facing 35 penalty minutes. Dillon has been able to score 9 power play goals, 1 short-handed and 6 game winning goals for the Lightning this season. Rory Herrman has proven himself to be quite the standout player yet again this season and as it stands the top point scorer for the Lightning this season. He has managed to collect 84 points from 37 goals and 47 assists whilst also only facing 8 penalty minutes this season. Rory has managed to score 5 power play goals and has scored 3 game winning goals but also has received 13 assists while the Lightning have been on the power play, which shows he can easily help the Lightning take full advantage in the power play situations. 

Sheffield Steeldogs 

The Steeldogs are entering this weekend sat in 10th position within the league table after in the 38 games they have completed they have been able to secure 25 points from winning 12 games, losing 25 and taking 1 game to overtime but were unable to secure the 2nd point. Sheffield are going into this weekend currently on a 4 game losing streak after last weekend as they lost a doubleheader battle against the Bees but were able to secure 1 point from 1 of the games going to overtime. 

The Sheffield power play this season has been roughly 19% effective as they have been able to convert 23 out of 119 of their man advantages into a power play goal with Jonathan Phillips and Jonathan Kirk both being able to score 5 goals on the power play each. Their penalty kill this season has been 74% effective as they have been able to stop 95 out of 129 chances when the opposing teams have been on the man advantage this season. There have been 4 short-handed goals scored by the Steeldogs this season by Jonathan Phillips and Vlads Vulkanovs but there have also been 6 short-handed goals scored against the Steeldogs this season so far. 

The Steeldogs’ netminders have been forced to face 1.507 shots on goal and are currently facing around 40 shots on goal per game but they have also been able to test the opposing teams goalies across the league 1.152 times which leaves them averaging 30 chances on the goal per game. There have been 179 goals so far against Sheffield this season with them also being able to score 102 goals themselves. 

Players to keep an eye out on in Sunday’s game against the Steeldogs are Cameron Brownley and Matt Bissonnette. Cameron Brownley is a key player for the Steeldogs when they are trying to create chances to push into their offensive zone and he has managed to collect a total of 28 points this season from 8 goals and 20 assists while also picking up 38 penalty minutes. Matt Bissonnette will be someone the Pitbulls need to try to keep under control as he can easily convert opportunities to give the Steeldogs chances, he has collected 40 points this season from 9 goals and 21 assists while also picking up 26 penalty minutes. Matt has also been able to score 4 goals while the Steeldogs have been on the power play as well as has scored 3 game winning goals.