New Star Sykes seeks success

Billingham Stars’ signing of Chris Sykes earlier this summer was a big statement of intent for a club who have gone two NIHL North seasons without silverware.

Sykes enjoyed a productive 18 month spell with Sutton Sting as they established themselves in the upper reaches of Moralee D1, but when Stars came calling he decided to make the switch to Teesside.

Sykes brings a wealth of higher league experience to Stars’ roster, having previously iced in the Elite League for Hull Stingrays and Sheffield Steeldogs in the EPL. He began his Stars career with a hat-trick in a pre-season friendly against Aberdeen Lynx, before picking up the MVP award in their 5-2 British Challenge Cup win at Solway Sharks last weekend.

“Joining Stars has been a great move for me so far,” said Sykes. “I’m enjoying my time here and enjoying the hockey. The players and backroom staff are great – it really is a well-oiled Big Red Machine!

“I’ve joined Stars to win trophies and to start off by beating last year’s league winners in their own barn is somewhat of a head turner. I was delighted to come away with the MVP award – I don’t get it often so it was nice to win it. Solway didn’t look like the team they had last year, however I’m sure they will bounce back.”

This weekend Stars get their league campaign underway as they head to Sykes’ hometown of Sheffield to take on the Spartans, and he’s expecting a tough encounter: “They’re always are a well-drilled team and always play hard. They have a grind it out attitude and it’s a place you know you’ll always get a game.

“You don’t walk away easily with two points, but we’ll turn up with our game plan and take it to them. It’ll be a battle, but if everything goes our way we’re good enough to get the win.”

Stars return to home ice on Sunday as they face Manchester Minotaurs. The Altrincham based outfit lost 11-3 to Blackburn Hawks last week, but Sykes said Stars won’t underestimate their opponents: “They were a bit of a surprise package last year they had Lukas Zeman, but this year they don’t look as though they have the same firepower.

“However, we’ll never take any team lightly. We’ll play our normal game and hopefully make it a four-point weekend. We’ve set ourselves a few long term goals and I have a few personal targets of my own, which hopefully if I achieve will make for a great season.”

(Image permission: Dean Reeve)

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