Telford Tigers NIHL boss Jason Parry believes home support could hold the key to victory against local rivals Solihull Barons this weekend.
The two teams meet just weeks after their previous NIHL North Moralee D1 clash at Hobs Moat Road, which the Barons won 7-5.
But with the Tigers having beaten Solihull 9-4 at a packed Telford Ice Rink earlier this season, Parry has asked for a repeat on Saturday evening.
He said: “The last time we played Solihull in Telford it was the kind of night when everything worked well for us. The guys kept their heads and stuck to the game plan.
“In those sort of games, it is essential that we have the backing of our home support. Last time, there were 300 fans in the rink and the noise really lifted our players.
“Both teams are very closely matched and Solihull are certainly beatable, especially with us having the home advantage. If we use our speed and discipline, we can make a very good game of it.”
Sunday sees Telford make the trip north to face a Billingham Stars side that won 4-3 in Shropshire just seven days ago.
That defeat put a sizeable dent in Parry’s play-off ambitions, but he hasn’t given up hope of reaching the end-of-season tournament.
“Last week’s game showed how tight it is amongst the teams around us,” Parry added.
“We are fifth now, but we have games in hand over Billingham so we’re still in with a very big shout. If we can win both games this weekend, then that will put us in a very good position.
“The guys know what’s at stake, especially against Solihull on Saturday. This is when players really show their mettle and I’m confident we can come away with four points.”
Victory against the Barons last weekend saw Solway Sharks move just two points off a top four spot, and with games in hand on the teams above them the Dumfries outfit are well-placed to reach the play-offs in Sheffield.
Assistant Coach Scott McMeeken said: “It was not pretty to watch from a coach’s point of view – it was far too open but the important thing was that we got the two points.
“Solihull are a very talented team offensively and put us under real pressure at points when we couldn’t kill the game off, but we showed character to dig in and keep the lead that we built up in the first period.
“James Wallace has been solid for us since coming back from Edinburgh and even stepped up with two goals to continue our scoring streak from defensemen in the last few games.
“We will need to continue taking our scoring chances as we push to make the play-offs.”
NIHL North Moralee D1
Solway Sharks v Sheffield Spartans
Telford Tigers v Solihull Barons
Billingham Stars v Telford Tigers
Solihull Barons v Sheffield Senators
Whitley Warriors v Solway Sharks
NIHL North Laidler D2
Hull Jets v Widnes Wild
Blackburn Eagles v Nottingham Lions
Hull Jets v Altrincham Aces
NIHL Northern Cup
Widnes Wild v Blackburn Hawks