NIHL North preview: Barons keen to get back on track

Solihull Barons travel to Whitley Warriors on Sunday aiming to put a disappointing November in NIHL North firmly behind them.

The Barons collected just one point during the month to slip to fourth in Moralee D1 and forward Richard Slater says the team are determined to return to winning ways.

“I’m hoping for a repeat of our last trip up to Whitley where we got the win, but they’ve put a solid run together and are climbing up the table,” said Slater.

“It’ll be a hard game, but I believe we’re capable of beating any team in this league.

“In terms of this season, I think that we’ve been unfortunate in a few games and have had people missing through commitments and injury so have had to chop and change lines.

“It means we’re probably working a lot harder than we would like to grind out results.

“Hopefully through the second half of the season we can really put in good performances every week and get ourselves into a solid play-off spot.

“It’s a tough league and any team could make the top four spots, so we’ve got to make sure we’re right up there.”

Solway Sharks face a tough double-header this weekend as they look to maintain their 100% league record.

The Sharks host Blackburn Hawks on Saturday ahead of Sunday’s trip to Billingham Stars and Head Coach Martin Grubb expects a stern test of their title credentials.

“I think this will be our most difficult weekend of the season so far,” Grubb told Sharks radio.

“Blackburn beat us in Dumfries in the cup, so they’ll know they can win in our place and they’ll be hungry to avenge the defeat we inflicted on them last weekend.

“The games between us and Billingham in recent years have shown there’s a bit of a rivalry, but always some good hockey played.

“It’ll come down to who can keep their discipline and take their chances.

“We know we’re going to have two tough games, but if we can get maximum points it gives us an even bigger lead in the league standings.

“We’ll focus on a period at a time and go into the weekend full of confidence.”

New Widnes Wild signing Simon Offord believes there’s still plenty of time for the team to force their way into the Laidler D2 promotion race.

The former Sutton Sting defender is set to make his debut at leaders Blackburn Eagles on Saturday and he’s aiming to help Wild improve on their recent indifferent form.

“I didn’t really plan on playing this year, but when Ollie (Barron) approached me about the possibility of signing for Widnes it was something I was happy to look into.

“After a few training sessions it was an easy decision to make – it’s a very good set-up and a good squad of players.

“I’m looking forward to helping where I can. I know there may have been a few disappointing results recently but it’s a long season and a lot of games still to be played.

“I’m confident that we will be challenging for promotion at the end of the season.”

WEEKEND FIXTURES

NIHL North Moralee D1

Saturday

Solway Sharks v Blackburn Hawks
Telford Tigers NIHL v Whitley Warriors

Sunday

Billingham Stars v Solway Sharks
Deeside Dragons v Blackburn Hawks
Whitley Warriors v Solihull Barons

NIHL North Laidler D2

Saturday

Blackburn Eagles v Widnes Wild
Bradford Bulldogs v Sheffield Senators

Sunday

Altrincham Aces v Sheffield Senators
Blackburn Eagles v Hull Jets
Widnes Wild v Coventry Blaze NIHL

(Image permissions: Keith & Jenny Davies, David Morrison)

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