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Vipers bidding to coast home.

Byline: By Miles Starforth

Rob wilson is relishing Newcastle Vipers' brief stay on the seaside.

The Vipers, in Edinburgh tonight to play the Capitals, face Milton Keynes Lightning at Whitley Bay's Hillheads tomorrow (6.00) and Guildford Flames on Sunday, October 17 at the rink due to the Disney On Ice show at Newcastle's Arena.

It will be the first time in five years a Newcastle team has played at the 3,200-capacity home of Whitley Warriors.

The last time attracted controversy, with then Manchester Storm coach Kurt Kleinendorst vowing never to take another team to the venue after seeing his Superleague champions beaten in overtime by Newcastle Riverkings in October 1999.

Kleinendorst said at the time: "We will give them the points, lose the match 5-0 and pay the fine but we will never play here again as long as I am manager."

Wilson is hoping the temporary move will be to his team's advantage, given the fact the Vipers train at least twice weekly at the rink.

He said: "Other teams are going to come to Whitley Bay and say `Oh my God', as it is not what they are used to," said Wilson. "We are used to the place ( it has a lot of character.

"It is going to be good for us. We have a lot of grit and determination and it will be good for our team.

"We have a lot of workers and grinders and hopefully we can grind two wins there and send our fans home happy.

"The big arena ice surfaces are good for free-flowing, European-type hockey teams but smaller ice surfaces do not suit that so much, and Guildford are that type of team.

"I played at Whitley when I first came to England to play for Sheffield and there is always a great atmosphere there.

"The fans are on top of you. They enjoy their hockey and it is a good place to play. It will be an interesting two games."

Wilson, who has no injury worries ahead of the weekend's two Winter Cup games, has analysed in depth Sunday's 9-1 defeat at Coventry Blaze.

He said: "No-one was very happy after Sunday but the mood has not been too bad in training this week ( we want to make amends.

"The game was a good indication that, while we are doing well, we are still some way away from the Elite League.

"I did not build a team to win the Elite League, however. I built a team to compete in the British National League.

"Having said that, I have watched the video four times already and we were short-handed for 12 of the first 20 minutes, including a five-on-three powerplay. We were up against it from the first minute ( they got three quick goals."

Wilson added: "Edinburgh are a good side and have a very similar team to last year.

"They replaced Tony Hand with Marty Johnston and he is a good player.

"They are going to be strong. Edinburgh is always a tough place to play and it is going to be about getting plenty of pucks on their net."

Newcastle lead the Winter Cup table from second-placed Bracknell Bees, beaten 5-4 in overtime at Newcastle's Arena last Saturday, by two points.
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 9, 2004
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