Leeds Knights keen to avoid Milton Keynes Lightning striking twice against them in top-of-table clash
and live on Freeview channel 276
Both experienced contrasting fortunes in the second legs of their respective NIHL National Cup semi-final ties on Friday night, the Knights beating Sheffield Steeldogs 5-3 to secure a 10-4 aggregate win, while Milton Keynes went down 4-3 at Peterborough Phantoms, meaning they lost out 5-3 overall.
The dates for when Leeds and Peterborough will meet in the two-legged final are still to be finalised but, for now, all eyes will return to the three-horse race for the league title.
The Knights head into Saturday night’s clash in Buckinghamshire one point adrift of the hosts but with three games in hand.
Clearly a win would increase the advantage Leeds have over the Lightning and third-placed Peterborough, who have the same points haul as the West Yorkshire club but have also played three games more.
Peterborough don’t face-off in league action again until Sunday when they host Swindon Wildcats, meaning focus will be on Saturday night’s clash between the top two at Planet Ice Milton Keynes.
The Lightning’s venue is known to be one of the noisiest in the league given the big crowds they regularly attract, but Leeds’ Elland Road Ice Arena – dubbed ‘The Castle’ by home fans – has also quickly established itself as an intimidating place to play given the noise generated by the Knights’ faithful.
Aldridge believes that can help his team, whose only previous visit to Milton Keynes resulted in a 7-6 defeat in overtime, that coming after the visitors were 6-2 ahead just after the halfway point.
"It’s a busy building, a loud building and I guess we’ll get a taste of what teams get when they come into our building,” said Aldridge. “But we’re looking forward to it.
“As a sportsman you’ve got to thrive on those atmospheres, those crowds.
"If they don’t get you excited to play there’s something wrong, but they were always the kind of games I loved to play in.”
Lightning, who have lost three out of 18 home games in the league this season, come into the game on the back of four straight wins in the league, a run which includes a 15-2 thrashing of Bristol Pitbulls on home ice last week.
"It’s a big test for us, no doubt,” added Aldridge. “We’ve played well against them at home and we played well against them away before we lost control.
"Having the weekend they’ve just had, they are going to be full of confidence and, hopefully for us, they might be too confident.
“However we dress it up, though, it’s a massive two points, a massive game and both teams are going to be desperate for those two points.”