Weekend Ice Hockey Preview

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Newcastle kbs Vipers play two home matches in the Findus Challenge Cup this weekend - facing Bracknell Bees tonight and Edinburgh Capitals tomorrow.

Group leaders Bracknell come to the Telewest Arena having won four and drawn two of their six matches.

Bees stepped down from the Superleague and opted for the Findus British National League rather than the new Elite League.

Former Basingstoke Bison Mike Ellis is their player-coach and has put together a strong squad.

And Vipers' general manager Clyde Tuylis expecting a tough encounter.

"I am looking forward to it," he said. "We have new defenceman Jason Robinson making his debut after having flown in on Thursday and has had a training session under his belt.

"Bracknell are in the middle of a good run at the moment and this will be a good test to see where we are right now.

"I understand they are a big and physical side but we are also capable of playing a physical game."

Edinburgh, on the other hand, are not doing as well, having picked up only one point from five games and share bottom place with Hull Stingrays.

Tony Hand has returned to his home-town club as player-coach and Capitals have a mix of east European and American imports.

Hand worked with Tuyl at Sheffield several seasons ago and the Vipers' GM said: "He has a strong will to win and I have a lot of respect for Tony as a coach and as a player. He is very competitive and will be a difficult game for us."

Robinson making his debut compensates for the departure of Pasi Jarvinen, who was released this week. …