NIHL North preview: Doyle laces them up one more time

Perry Doyle will be back on the ice on Sunday as Solihull Barons host Blackburn Hawks in NIHL North Moralee D1.

Doyle announced his retirement from playing earlier this season, but he has decided to return for one more game to say a proper goodbye to the club’s fans.

The Barons have already qualified for the play-offs while the visitors need just one point to join them at Sheffield, but Doyle is keen to end the regular season campaign with a victory.

“Sunday will be an important game for us – it’s going to be important to win,” said Doyle.

“There are the points of course, but really we want to end the home season on a high for the fans, old and new, who turn out week in and week out to support us.

“It means a lot to the guys and the more people there on Sunday the better as we want the win for ourselves too.

“Blackburn have really come up on the rails this season – all credit to them and we need to show we can do a good job against them to set us up for Sheffield.

“I’m going on the ice for one last time Sunday and I’m really looking forward to saying a big thank you to the fans for their fantastic support over the years.

“I’ll be there on the ice to do a real job and make sure the boys can do what they need to do. When the sixty minutes are up it will be emotional, but until then I’m out to do what I need to.”

Billingham Stars complete their regular season campaign on Sunday aiming to end Whitley Warriors’ faint hopes of qualifying for the play-offs.

The Warriors must win the game and hope that Blackburn lose their final two fixtures.

The Stars have had their play-off ticket booked for some weeks now, but Director of Coaching Terry Ward sees Sunday’s game as the ideal preparation for the end-of-season showdown.

“Whitley will give us a very hard game – there’s still a slim chance of them making the play-offs and I’m sure they won’t give it up until that chance has gone,” said Ward.

“They’re a tough side and when they do play hockey they’ve got a squad full of very talented players that have the ability to trouble anyone.

“It’s a derby as well – no-one wants to lose these games regardless of what’s at stake, so it should be a good test of our character as well as a hard-fought hockey game.

“We want to make sure we sign off in front of our own fans at the Forum with a win – it’s important that we go into the play-off weekend with our confidence high.

“We want to come back to Billingham with that trophy, and this game is the perfect preparation for us in many ways.”

WEEKEND FIXTURES

NIHL North Moralee D1

Saturday

Solway Sharks v Blackburn Hawks (Cup)

Sunday

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

NIHL North Laidler D2

Saturday

Altrincham Aces v Coventry Blaze NIHL

Sunday

Widnes Wild v Bradford Bulldogs

(Image permission: Keith & Jenny Davies)

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