NIHL North preview: Dragons ready for pivotal weekend

Deeside Dragons’ Player/Coach Scott McKenzie believes his team deserve a chance to preserve their NIHL North Moralee D1 status.

The Dragons head into Saturday’s final game at Blackburn Hawks knowing a victory would lift them off the bottom of the table into seventh place and set up a promotion/relegation play-off against D2 outfit Widnes Wild.

A draw or defeat would see the Dragons automatically relegated, with Sutton Sting left to face Wild in a one-game shoot-out at Blackburn on Sunday.

McKenzie said: “Saturday’s game is the biggest game of the year for us. Having gained a valuable point from Solway we obviously require two further points from Blackburn.

“It’s never an easy place to go to at the best of times, but we are ready. We have a plan, we will stick to that plan and hopefully do enough to finish in that seventh spot that I believe we definitely deserve, if not better.

“Winning Saturday’s game would obviously mean facing Widnes on Sunday. As much as we are focused on Saturday, I think everyone wants to see the Dragons versus Widnes – it’s a local rivalry between two teams that naturally dislike each other.

“It almost seems like destiny or fate that we would meet Widnes in these circumstances, but we have the big hurdle of the Hawks to beat first and we are ready for that challenge.”

In addition to preparing for the pivotal weekend, McKenzie has had to contend with the added distraction of the announcement that D2 champions Blackburn Eagles are folding at the end of the season.

It remains unclear what will happen regarding promotion and relegation between the two leagues, but McKenzie believes playing the play-off fixture is the right thing to do.

“I have spoken at length with the league to see if there is ‘a need’ for the promotion/relegation game due to the loss of the Eagles.

“At the start of the season we all sit down and plan for the season ahead. We all agreed that the seventh placed team in Moralee would face the second placed team in Laidler.

“Now that the Eagles have folded for next season, do we change the plans that we made all those months ago?

“It is a very difficult decision, but I do believe that the league are doing the right thing and following through with the original plans and we can regroup to discuss the structure for next season after the play-off weekend.”

WEEKEND FIXTURES

NIHL North Moralee D1

Saturday

Blackburn Hawks v Deeside Dragons

NIHL North promotion/relegation play/off

Sunday

Sutton Sting/Deeside Dragons v Widnes Wild

(Image permission: PSD-Images)

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