Ice hockey: Ayr have European destiny in their hands

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The Independent Online
AYR SCOTTISH EAGLES are hoping to avoid another bitter European experience as they take aim at history for a second time.

The fate of Jim Lynch's side is still in their own hands as they only need a point from tonight's final divisional game in Mannheim to be assured of a place in the second round.

Defeat in regulation time for Eagles would leave them pinning their dreams on the Czech side, Litvinov, beating the Russian champions Kazan on the road - an unlikely scenario.

Ayr faced a similar situation two weeks ago when they needed a win in Litvinov to become the first British team to pro-gress to the next phase of such a major European competition.

But after holding a two-goal cushion early in the third period, they eventually lost on penalties to send the four-team group down to the wire.

Despite Ayr's indifferent form in the Sekonda Superleague, Lynch believes his side can take advantage of Mann-heim's veteran defence and avenge their 6-3 defeat against the Germans earlier this year.

"We blew it against the Czechs. But we are capable of winning in Germany because although Mannheim are experienced, their defence is old and slow," he said. "Whatever happens we have had a very positive European debut."

The defenceman Jeff Hoad, meanwhile, knows Eagles cannot afford the mental slip-ups they showed against Litvinov.

"All we needed last time out was a win, but we shot ourselves in the foot. We now just need to stay focused," he said.