When Jakub Klima and Callum Best left Streatham Redskins before this season, captain Joe Johnston wasn’t sure how his team would respond.
The pair had combined to score 132 points in 56 games in the last campaign, but now Johnson admits it was perhaps the kick up the backside him and the squad needed to start sharing the goalscoring load.
Best has since returned to the club but before then they had developed an all-round game that saw them lead National League South before dropping down to third.
According to Johnston, that all round game starts from the back, where netminder Will Sanderson goes into Saturday’s game with Milton Keynes Thunder with a career best save percentage of 0.909 and goals against average of 2.06.
When he isn’t there David Wilde proves an able deputy, as he did last Saturday in the 6-0 hammering of Thunder.
“Goalies are our beginning,” said Johnston.
Their transition game has been equally important too.
Despite a unique roster where every defenseman is a right-handed shot, coach Warren Rost has harnessed his team’s breakout ability, allowing every player to contribute offensively.
That has led to the most goals in the league on home ice (88) and the joint most home wins (12).
Johnston though believes the players aren’t the only ones contributing to the team’s home form.
“These fans are the most loyal fans I’ve experienced,” he said of a crowd that has sold out Streatham Ice Arena more consistently than not.
“Everyone gets behind you and you want to give them something back.”
At 35, Johnston wants silverware and continued league form will increase that chance in the play-offs, despite leaders Chelmsford Chieftains sitting 10 points clear of second-placed Invicta Dynamos and 15 clear of the Redskins.
If they are to achieve Johnston’s dream then Chelmsford look like the biggest hurdle they will have to overcome, but with home support and the current wave his team are riding, Johnston is confident that an upset could be in the pipeline.
“It will be interesting. We’ve had the better of them in the past,” he said.
Feature image courtesy of Rick Webb, with thanks