Hargreaves confident Pitbulls can put uncertainty behind them
HEAD coach Richie Hargreaves has told his reorganised Bristol Pitbulls side to overcome a summer of upheaval by aiming for a top three finish this season.
Hargreaves has been forced to shelve last season's ENIHL Division One side and will now just run one team in the league below due to continuing uncertainty surrounding the Bristol Ice Rink at Frogmore Street.
The venue will remain open until October at least as plans to turn the site into student accommodation continue to progress.
The club will seek alternative venues for 'ice time' should the plans be given the go-ahead.
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Hargreaves, whose side start their campaign at Invicta on Saturday, said: "The rink situation has left me very frustrated.
"We'd had a good year with both of our teams and were looking forward to building on that in both leagues.
"This club has been improving year-on-year and, although we've been given a tough set of circumstances, I still think we can do something positive.
"We've always been about learning and developing players but this season that's going to be an even bigger focus for us.
"I've kept together the core of our younger players from both teams last season and will use this year as an opportunity to build an even stronger foundation for our future.
"I always felt it was best to carry on. Despite the rink situation still not being resolved, the players have felt the same and stayed with us all through the summer.
"Our sponsors have also stayed with us and support like that helps you get through these difficult times."
The new-look Pitbulls will mainly be relying on the exuberance of youth from a squad of players that is half made up of players under the age of 22.
Hargreaves added: "We finished 10th in this league last season and anything above that would be an improvement. We have a number of key players who have stayed on from what was our first team last year, however, so I expect to finish in the top three and that is the target I have set for the guys."
The Pitbulls visit an Invicta side on Saturday which is likely to include Olympian Ashley Jackson, who returns to the ice after representing Great Britain in field hockey in London.
Jackson was joint second-top scorer in the Olympics as he led Team GB to a fourth-placed finish.
Invicta struggled last year when finishing second-from-bottom of the league – but started the current campaign with a 9-6 win over Romford last weekend.