British Ice Hockey

NIHL North preview: Stars face tough Dragons test

NIHL North title-chasers Billingham Stars travel to Deeside Dragons on Sunday aiming to keep up the pressure at the top of the Moralee D1 table.

The Stars’ 3-2 victory over leaders Solway Sharks last weekend left them six points behind their rivals with a game in hand, but despite two big wins against the Dragons this season Director of Coaching Terry Ward has warned his team not to take their foot of the gas.

“Make no mistake, regardless of previous results this is a very tough game for us,” said Ward.

“You only have to look at the way they dismantled the (Blackburn) Hawks last weekend to see that they’re no pushovers on their own ice.

“They’ve strengthened since we last faced them too – they have several key players that we need to watch out for.

“We certainly take nothing for granted – we’ve already found out to our cost this season what complacency can do, and switching off against any team in this league will be punished.

“It’s also very important that we keep up the momentum from last weekend – the win over the Sharks was a massive boost and we need to use that to kick on and challenge them at the top of the table.

“Fortunately for us our forward lines are all on fire right now which makes us a difficult team to live with.

“The Dragons struggled to cope in both our previous games and we were able to exploit their weaknesses at the back. If we can repeat that then I see no reason why we can’t take the points.”

Telford Tigers NIHL will take confidence from last week’s victory over Whitley Warriors into their fixture with Sutton Sting on Saturday.

The Tigers’ 5-0 win moved them level on points with the Hawks at the bottom of the table and Player/Coach Daniel MacKriel hopes the result will finally kick-start their season.

“Sting arrive having found some form – they’ve beaten Billingham and come close on other occasions against the big four in the league,” said MacKriel.

“They have some very dangerous players and stick to their game plan very well.

“We need to make sure that, first and foremost, we are disciplined, smart and take our chances when they arrive. It should be a good game to watch.”

Widnes Wild host Nottingham Lions in Laidler D2 on Sunday hoping to build on last weekend’s impressive performances.

Wild won 3-1 at Blackburn Eagles and followed up with a 9-2 home victory against Coventry Blaze NIHL, to leave Player/Coach Ollie Barron in a buoyant mood ahead of the Lions game.

“Saturday’s away game in Blackburn was massive for us – we had a strict game plan which we executed perfectly, and we took our goal scoring chances when we had them,” said Barron.

“I was so pleased with the team’s togetherness and work ethic on Saturday – it was a much-needed win.

“It was disappointing to go a goal behind against Coventry, but it was a solid performance and great to put some goals on the board.

“I was also pleased to welcome Simon Offord into the team on Sunday – he will be a big player for us going forward for the rest of season.

“Sunday’s game is a big game for us. We were not at our best when we played Nottingham away and we’ll be looking to build on last weekend’s momentum and take it into Sunday in front of our fans.”

WEEKEND FIXTURES

NIHL North Moralee D1

Saturday

Solway Sharks v Deeside Dragons
Telford Tigers NIHL v Sutton Sting

Sunday

Deeside Dragons v Billingham Stars
Solihull Barons v Blackburn Hawks
Sutton Sting v Solway Sharks

NIHL North Laidler D2

Saturday

Hull Jets v Blackburn Eagles

Sunday

Coventry Blaze NIHL v Altrincham Aces
Widnes Wild v Nottingham Lions

(Image permissions: PSD-Images & GW-Images)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *