NIHL North preview: Grubb expects tough weekend

Solway Sharks face a big weekend in NIHL North as they bid to keep their Moralee D1 play-off hopes alive.

Sharks welcome Whitley Warriors to Dumfries on Saturday, before travelling to face Billingham Stars on Sunday, knowing they need to build on their impressive start to the New Year.

Victories over Sheffield Senators and Blackburn Hawks have moved Sharks six points behind a top four slot, but with at least four games in hand on their rivals the Dumfries outfit could still be a factor in the race to the play-offs.

Head Coach Martin Grubb said he was delighted with last week’s 5-3 win against the Hawks, but admitted he expects a tough weekend against Warriors and Stars.

“Whitley are a much-changed team from last season and they are having a great season under David Longstaff,” said Grubb.

“Billingham are traditionally a strong second-half team and they’ve started to put results together, so we’re taking nothing for granted.

“We will work hard in training and look to pick up where we left off against Blackburn and keep the run going for as long as possible.”

Warriors head into the game on the back of a comfortable 9-1 win against Telford Tigers NIHL.

The result left Warriors seven points behind the Hawks with a game in hand, and forward Jordan Barnes is hoping for a repeat performance.

“We’ve picked up no injuries and we’re looking forward to next week’s games at Solway and then at home to Sheffield,” said Barnes.

“We feel we’ve got something to prove against Sheffield and I feel that one could be quite a feisty game.

“I enjoyed the Telford game – I thought we played well and got the result we needed.

“The youngsters like Kyle (Ross) and Liam (Smedley) played well. Ben (Richards) came back into the line-up and he did well as he had a couple of chances in front of goal but sometimes they just don’t go in for you.

“Mark (Turnbull) also saw a little bit of ice time and he’s been playing well in practice, so that’s good.

“Callum Queenan should be back for this weekend as he was missing with a knock to his ankle, but I think he should be fine.”

WEEKEND FIXTURES

NIHL North Moralee D1

Saturday

Blackburn Hawks v Billingham Stars
Sheffield Spartans v Solihull Barons
Solway Sharks v Whitley Warriors
Sutton Sting v Sheffield Senators

Sunday

Billingham Stars v Solway Sharks
Sheffield Senators v Sutton Sting
Solihull Barons v Blackburn Hawks
Whitley Warriors v Sheffield Spartans

NIHL North Laidler D2

Saturday

Bradford Bulldogs v Widnes Wild
Coventry Blaze v Nottingham Lions

Sunday

Nottingham Lions v Altrincham Aces

(Image permission: Duncan Speirs)

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