ABU DHABI // The first champions of the Emirates Ice Hockey League (EHL) will be decided tonight when the Al Ain Vipers take on the Dubai Mighty Camels at the neutral Zayed Sports City ice-rink, after both sides won their respective home legs. Having lost last week's Dubai opener 5-3, the Vipers made a comeback by winning 4-3 at home - secured via Adam Meyer's late winner - to level the three-game series on Monday night.
And ahead of the EHL's debut season decider - the third face-off between the sides in eight days - the Vipers captain Ahmed Hennawi, who returned to lead his side on Monday after missing game one, believes the underdogs have regained the momentum. "The pressure is on the Camels now because they thought they had the league won from the time it was announced," said Hennawi. "The bigger ice surface in Abu Dhabi is similar to the Al Ain rink and it will be like playing at home for us. The Camels have some tough work ahead."
Ron Murphy, the Camels captain, meanwhile, acknowledged that his side will need to work on their collective discipline if they are to wrap up the title in the Al Ain-friendly capital. "We let one slip by," admitted Murphy. "The Vipers played well and it wasn't our best game. There have been lots of penalties in the first two games. Of the Vipers' seven goals, five have come during the power-play - we need to stay out of the penalty box.
"We've scored all our goals when it's been five on five, so we're the stronger side when both teams are at full strength." With domestic bragging rights on the line, both captains are predicting a tight game. "We know their tendencies and they know ours, the winner will be the side which adapts the best," added Murphy. "It's a win or bust game for us," agreed Hennawi. "But the important thing is that we have proven we can beat them and that will pile on the pressure.
"We need to raise the bar but we are a different team to the one which started the league. Now, we have the belief we can win." email@example.com