Solway Sharks’ boss Martin Grubb has praised his players after they forced their way into the NIHL North Moralee D1 play-offs.
Sharks’ 7-1 victory against Telford Tigers NIHL last Saturday sealed their place in Sheffield and Grubb (above) is hoping his team can keep their momentum going into the end-of-season showdown.
“I’m very proud of the way the players have bought in since the turn of the year,” said Grubb.
“Their hard work and dedication, adapting to new systems and ways of playing have reaped the rewards and the credit goes to them.
“To come from second to last in the league at the end of January to qualify for play-offs with two games remaining is a great achievement.
“The challenge now is to be ready for our semi-final opponents and make sure we aren’t just making up the numbers in Sheffield.”
Sharks host Sutton Sting in the league on Saturday, ahead of Sunday’s trip to D2 promotion chasers Widnes Wild in the Northern Cup, and Grubb wants his team to maintain their focus.
“Sutton were our rivals when we started back in Division 2 and they are a team we know very well,” added Grubb.
“They have excellent netminding with Dmitri Zimozdra, size and speed in the defence and skilful forwards.
“We will be looking to continue our recent form and get into a good groove going into the play-off weekend.
“As you would expect, there are a few bumps and bruises so we’ll be making full use of the squad in the next couple of weeks to make sure everyone is ready for Sheffield.”
Billingham Stars host league champions Blackburn Hawks on Sunday aiming to end the season on a high after missing out on a top four place.
Inconsistency has been Stars achilles heel this season and General Manager Allen Flavell wants his team to give their fans something to cheer.
“We may not have made the top four this year but we know we have a side that is more than capable of getting a win over anyone, so to lose out is very frustrating,” said Flavell.
“From that point of view we have something to prove against Blackburn – we want to finish the season with our heads held high and go forward to next season on a positive note.
“The Hawks are clearly a very good side, the table does not lie and they have been the team to beat for some time now, so we know we will have to be at our best to get anything out of the game.
“We certainly won’t be taking the night off, we will be giving it our best shot and hopefully we can remind people who the real Stars are.”
NIHL North Moralee D1
Blackburn Hawks v Solihull Barons
Solway Sharks v Sutton Sting
Telford Tigers NIHL v Sheffield Senators
Billingham Stars v Blackburn Hawks
Sheffield Senators v Whitley Warriors
Solihull Barons v Sheffield Spartans
NIHL North Laidler D2
Deeside Dragons v Widnes Wild
Hull Jets v Blackburn Eagles
Blackburn Eagles v Altrincham Aces
Hull Jets v Coventry Blaze
Widnes Wild v Solway Sharks
(Image permission: Duncan Speirs)