The Solway Sharks have been Division One North’s dominant side this year, winning the regular season and the play-offs.
Their next challenge is D1 South’s top side Streatham, to round off a strong campaign for both teams.
Planet Ice Coventry will play host to the NIHL Division One Championship, which is the meeting of the league winners from North and South.
Solway vs Streatham
Solway meet Streatham in what will be an entertaining clash for both sides.
Head Coach for Solway, Martin Grubb spoke about his preparations for this game, saying: “I think everyone who follows hockey knows how well Streatham have done for the last few years, this year they’ve won every trophy that they’ve competed for – Michael Farn’s done a fantastic job with them.”
Streatham’s player/coach has guided his side to a league and play-off success just like Martin.
The side from the South have also been successful in cup competitions, something Solway were unable to replicate.
Despite this, the Sharks were far and away the best side in the North as Streatham were in the South.
North vs South
It sets up an exciting championship game between the two best from each side of the country.
Martin spoke on what he expects to encounter from the side, saying: “We can only do so much, preparing the players on their side of things, but we really are now focused on ourselves and how we’re going to play and what we can do to maybe counteract some of Streatham’s strengths and weaknesses, but I think it’s about making sure that we give a good account of ourselves.”
He continued: “I think we’ve been a confident team all year and said that as long as we concentrate on ourselves then we’ve got a good chance of winning any hockey game, I think if we overfocus on what they’re going to do then it might take away some of the benefit of our game, so we’re going to go there and we’re going to give it a right good go.”
He stressed the importance of representing the Northern league and showing what they’re made of, saying: “I feel we’re proud representing the whole North Moralee conference and the whole of Northern hockey as such, sometimes I think we get forgotten about a little bit in the North, so we want to give a good account of both ourselves and our league and show people down there that there are a lot of good hockey players and teams in the North.”
With two sides with such quality going head-to-head there will be key battles across the ice on the weekend.
Martin outlined where he thinks these may be, saying: “Both goalies will be key to how the teams go and probably who takes the chances, who settles earliest, who can maybe get their noses in front, both teams I guess are used to playing with a lead, both teams are used to being probably the dominant team for the majority of the games they’ve played.
“Who handles the spells without the puck, who can stick to their structures, trust their process and exert their dominance on the game and we feel that we’re going there with that game, we’ve got the weapons, we’ve got the ability, we’ve got to trust the plan that we’re going to put in place and play with confidence,” he said.
He continued: “So, I think definitely goaltending, special teams and kind of see who can exert their dominance on the game are probably the three main things and I guess it comes down to what good team will find a way to get the job done.”
Good Teams Find a Way to Win
His mantra for the players still remains as ‘good teams find a way to win’ and it has worked up until now.
Whether they can repeat that feat one last time remains to be seen and they will hope to round out their season with one last piece of silverware.
Much Needed Family Time
Aside from the final game of the season Martin is already thinking of what’s next.
For him he says it’s spending some time with his family and enjoying their company.
“I think my wife and kids deserve to get a little bit of time, maybe they might disagree, maybe they might be bored of me within a couple of weeks, but it’ll be good to spend some time with the family and obviously they provide that support and allow me to do what I do.”
A Thank You
Finally, Martin wanted to thank everyone who has helped the side over the season.
“A thank you to everybody so far that’s supported not only ourselves, but the league in the North – this game at the weekend has generated a huge amount of interest between the North and the South and hopefully both teams can do the NIHL One level proud and from there I hope everyone has a good summer!”
Solway and Streatham will face on the 1st of May in Planet Ice Coventry before the finals game for the National League.
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