NIHL North preview: Grubb not looking beyond the Dragons

Solway Sharks will look to clinch the NIHL North Moralee D1 title when they face Deeside Dragons and Billingham Stars this weekend.

The Sharks lead the Stars by ten points with six games to go, but Head Coach Martin Grubb doesn’t want his team to look beyond Saturday’s home game against the Dragons.

“Scott (McKenzie) has had to rebuild a little bit and he managed to bring in Denis Bell which has given them confidence,” he hold march74sports.

“They are pushing at one end trying to slide into the play-off spots, but also looking over there shoulder hoping not to get put in a relegation battle.

“They are going to come here and play solid and they’re going to play desperate hockey.

“I like the way Scott has his team playing – every game so far between the two teams has been tight so we know were going to have to be at our best and treat them with the respect they deserve.

“One thing we can’t do is start looking too far ahead of ourselves. We’ve got to take it shift-by-shift, period-by-period, game-by-game and make sure we do our job.

“I think we’ve got an U20 game on so we’ll miss a couple of young guys, but we should hopefully be at full strength and we’ve got to be ready to go and show that we’re the hungrier team ready to get the points.”

Whitley Assistant Coach Dave Holland believes the Warriors will need to change their mentality away from home if they’re to secure a play-off place.

The Hillheads outfit have won just twice on the road this season, but with six away games on the spin to complete their regular season Holland wants a change in mindset from the players.

“The league is so tight that it’ll likely go down to the wire with the points being close and so many teams trying to claim a play-off spot,” said Holland.

“Away from home we will need to approach games like we are the home side and try to play on the front foot. We need to concentrate on our own game.

“It’s all still wide open – get through the next few games and see where we are heading towards the play-offs. Play like we did last Sunday and we should win more games than we will lose.”

Widnes Wild travel to Coventry Blaze NIHL on Saturday still hoping to catch Laidler D2 leaders Blackburn Eagles.

Wild are three points behind the Eagles with five games to play and will face a Coventry team that have struggled this season.

Despite winning their previous three meetings Player/Coach Ollie Barron is taking nothing for granted.

“We cannot afford ourselves to underestimate the Blaze,” said Barron.

“Although they haven’t had much success in terms of wins this season, they work hard for each other for sixty minutes and have a number of players capable of finishing the puck.”

WEEKEND FIXTURES

NIHL North Moralee D1

Saturday

Blackburn Hawks v Telford Tigers NIHL
Solway Sharks v Deeside Dragons
Sutton Sting v Whitley Warriors

Sunday

Billingham Stars v Solway Sharks
Solihull Barons v Whitley Warriors

NIHL North Laidler D2

Saturday

Bradford Bulldogs v Sheffield Senators
Coventry Blaze NIHL v Widnes Wild

Sunday

Blackburn Eagles v Hull Jets
Sheffield Senators v Nottingham Lions

(Image permission: David Morrison)

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