Things have been going more or less according to plan for the Bears lately. Four wins in a row, great performances on the road against Atlant, Vityaz, and Lokomotiv, along with five new points against their direct competitors for the playoffs.
''These were big and significant road games for our team. We managed to grab five points which is very good, especially since we had a fairly long break without KHL games around Christmas. Of course, we're sad that we left Yaroslavl without points, but that game didn't break our spirits or motivation'', said Bill Thomas.
The Bears only have six more home games left in the regular season, four now in January (Dinamo Moscow, Sochi, Atlant, Dinamo Minsk), and two in late February (Dinamo Riga, Jokerit).
''We have to play these first four games really well and take advantage of home ice and the energy from the fans because after them we have a streak of eight road games and we're not back home until late February. That said, we're all aware what these games against Dinamo Moscow, Sochi, Atlant, and Minsk mean and how important they are, all the more since points in the West are still tight and the race is still on.''
The Den's first guests in January's block of home games will be Dinamo from Moscow (Thursday, 6:30PM), who already have two consecutive KHL championship titles behind them. Last season the Bears just couldn't figure out the winning formula to defeat Dinamo. They were close in Moscow (4:30), but were far from it in Zagreb (0:5). But, this season things are different. The Bears won their first game ever against Moscow's club and held on to two points.
''I remember those games from last season really well. When we visited them we held up against them, but in Zagreb we lost big time. Maybe that was the score because it was our first game in Arena Zagreb, or maybe we underestimated them a bit because of the game in Moscow. Clearly we learned something and this season we knew what to expect from them and that we can't underestimate them at any cost. That resulted in a tight game in Moscow until the final minutes. I think we shocked them a bit with our win that time. That said, we're going to have to be careful in Zagreb because they're a really well organized team. Sometimes it's hard to play the first game when you come back from the road, but we must and we will be mentally prepared.''