British Ice Hockey

NIHL North preview: Dragons target positive end to the year

Deeside Dragons hit the road this weekend hoping for a couple of positive results to round off what has been a successful year in NIHL North.

After winning promotion into Moralee D1 last term, the Dragons have acquited themselves well at the higher level and are currently sixth in the table – just a point behind a play-off place.

The North Wales outfit visit Blackburn Hawks on Saturday ahead of Sunday’s trip to Whitley Warriors and Player/Coach Scott McKenzie is delighted with the club’s progress.

“I’m really looking forward to this weekend – we’ve put ourselves into a really good position and see this weekend as an opportunity to finish 2016 with a positive feeling.

“It’s going to be two tough games on the road, but I feel like all the pressure is on Blackburn and Whitley.

“We’re playing some good hockey at the moment – I’m really happy with the way the guys are buying in and doing what the coaching staff is asking of them.

“For 2017 we’re really looking to stay in the league and grow the club as a whole. Our target is the play-offs and if we can make the finals weekend I’d class that as a successful season.

“The league is so tight this year with teams beating each other every weekend, so if we can have a run of wins we’ll be in a great spot in the second half of the season.

“We’re going to grow as a club, add professional aspects, give some youth players an opportunity to develop and hopefully provide a platform for our youth players within the junior system to aspire to become a senior Dragon in the near future.”

The Warriors travel to face Sutton Sting on Saturday before returning to Hillheads to meet the Dragons the following day, aiming to return to winning ways.

Defeats against Telford Tigers NIHL and Solihull Barons two weeks ago have left the Warriors fourth in D1 and forward DJ Good is keen to end the year on a high.

“We’ve done well against Sutton and Deeside this season, so the aim is four points,” said Good.

“We’re missing a couple players, but there’s nothing new there as we haven’t had a full team all season although we should still have three decent lines.

“Saturday will be a challenge as Sutton will up their game on home ice, but the early face-off will give us plenty of time to recover.

“Deeside have made a couple of signings, but it’s important we get back to winning ways and everyone is up for both games.”

Widnes Wild head to Hull Jets on Saturday searching for the victory that would see them end 2016 in second place in Laidler D2.

Wild trail league leaders Blackburn Eagles by six points, although with a game in hand and a meeting between the two clubs still to come the race for top spot is still wide open.

Four wins from their last five games means Wild are D2’s form team, but Player/Coach Ollie Barron has warned his players not to be complacent at Hull.

“It will be another tricky fixture – as results have shown around the league, there are no easy games that you can take for granted,” said Barron.

“Hull are a hard working team with some good individual players and they have the league’s top scorer who is in good form.

“We’ll have to be at our best on Saturday to come away with the points and will work hard in training in preparation for the game.”

WEEKEND FIXTURES

NIHL North Moralee D1

Saturday

Blackburn Hawks v Deeside Dragons
Sutton Sting v Whitley Warriors

Sunday

Billingham Stars v Sutton Sting
Solihull Barons v Telford Tigers NIHL
Whitley Warriors v Deeside Dragons

NIHL North Laidler D2

Saturday

Hull Jets v Widnes Wild

Sunday

Blackburn Eagles v Coventry Blaze NIHL
Nottingham Lions v Bradford Bulldogs

(Image permissions: PSD-Images, David Morrison, GW-Images)

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