NIHL North preview: McKenzie still aiming for play-offs

Deeside Dragons host Sutton Sting on Sunday still targeting a place in the NIHL North Moralee D1 play-offs.

Last week’s 5-3 home defeat against Telford Tigers NIHL dropped the Dragons to seventh in the table, although they are only two points behind fourth-placed Whitley Warriors.

Player/Coach Scott McKenzie said: “I really wasn’t disappointed with the performance of the players last week.

“I felt like we did enough to win, but came up against a good goalie on the night – that happens in hockey.

“But we’ll have two good practices this week and look to get the jump on Sutton this weekend. We hope to welcome back Ross Kennedy into the line-up and I’m also hopeful that Alex Parry isn’t far away from his return too.

“It would be great to see another bumper crowd down at the Den this Sunday to support the guys.

Telford’s victory over Deeside moved them to within a point of the North Wales outfit at the bottom of the table.

The Tigers missed a chance to improve their position after throwing away a 4-3 lead at home to Billingham Stars the previous day to lose 5-4.

However, Player/Coach Daniel MacKriel was pleased with both performances and has urged his players to produce a similar effort at Whitley Warriors on Sunday.

“Last weekend we played with high intensity and desire and were unfortunate not to have taken all four points on offer,” said MacKriel.

“There’s still ten points to play for and if we want to stay in this division, then we need to match the work rate from last weekend, but just be a little smarter throughout the whole game.

“We start with Sunday’s trip to Whitley Bay – the Warriors have a good side and play a physical style of hockey.

“It’s a tough place to go and we’ll have to be at our best to take anything from the game.”

While the majority of D1N will jostle for position for the remainder of the season, Billingham Stars look nailed on to claim the runners-up spot behind Solway Sharks.

Victory at home to Solihull on Sunday would move the Stars ten points clear of the Barons with six games to play.

Director of Coaching Terry Ward has urged the Stars to gain their revenge for a 6-5 home defeat against Perry Doyle’s team two weeks ago.

“We owe Solihull big time – I want to see some wrongs put right this weekend,” said Ward.

“We switched off pretty badly when they were here a few weeks ago and we allowed them to leave with the points.

“The good news is that our forwards are on fire right now – we had seven different scorers against Whitley last Sunday and that bodes well for the run-in.”

WEEKEND FIXTURES

NIHL North Moralee D1

Saturday

Solway Sharks v Blackburn Hawks

Sunday

Billingham Stars v Solihull Barons
Blackburn Hawks v Solway Sharks
Deeside Dragons v Sutton Sting
Whitley Warriors v Telford Tigers NIHL

NIHL North Laidler D2

Saturday

Altrincham Aces v Hull Jets
Blackburn Eagles v Sheffield Senators
Bradford Bulldogs v Widnes Wild
Coventry Blaze NIHL v Nottingham Lions

Sunday

Nottingham Lions v Widnes Wild

(Image permission: PSD-Images)

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