NIHL North preview: Cup takes centre stage

Solway take a break from league action to play two NIHL Northern Cup ties this weekend – Blackburn Hawks are the visitors to Dumfries on Saturday, before the Sharks travel to face Billingham Stars the following day.

Sharks have started their season in fine form, scoring 16 goals on their way to three victories and Head Coach Martin Grubb wants his team to keep their run going.

“It’s the cup this weekend, but for us it’s just another game – we want to keep winning and keep the momentum going as long as possible,” said Grubb.

“Blackburn are a very different team to that which won league and play-offs last year, but we know they’ll be hard to beat with a solid core and two good import forwards under coach Matt Darlow.

“Billingham are the cup holders – in their rink they’re a tough proposition so it’s going to be difficult. We’ll work hard in practice this week and come to work on Saturday fully prepared for the games.”

Stars lost against the Sharks in the league two weeks ago, but head into the game full of confidence after last week’s deserved 3-2 league victory over the Hawks.

Director of Coaching Terry Ward believes the Teessiders are capable of following up with another win on Sunday.

“We’ve seen Solway now and we know a little more about them,” said Ward.

“Yes they’re very tough at the back, but we know we have the forward lines to work them hard and carve out chances for ourselves.

“There’s no doubt they have some outstanding players – Juraj Senko is always one to watch and we know what a handful Richard Bentham is up front – we need to shut their star players down.

“The problem for us is that they have quality all over the ice, their younger players have upped their game considerably and they are all very fit, but the smaller ice should help us a little and hopefully we’ll be able to get in at the keeper.

“At the end of the day though, this is our cup – we want our name on it again come the end of the season and we’ll fight hard to keep it.”

WEEKEND FIXTURES

NIHL North Moralee D1

Saturday

Solway Sharks v Blackburn Hawks (Cup)

Sunday

Billingham Stars v Solway Sharks (Cup)
Solihull Barons v Deeside Dragons
Whitley Warriors v Telford Tigers NIHL

NIHL North Laidler D2

Saturday

Hull Jets v Widnes Wild
Sheffield Senators v Bradford Bulldogs

Sunday

Altrincham Aces v Sheffield Senators
Widnes Wild v Bradford Bulldogs

(Image permission: Mark Paterson)

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