Whitley Warriors face two tricky looking games this weekend as they continue their pursuit of NIHL North Moralee D1 leaders Blackburn Hawks.
Warriors visit Sutton Sting on Saturday with the hosts in buoyant mood after winning their last four games, while Sunday’s home clash against Billingham Stars is likely to be a feisty affair.
Last weekend the Hillheads outfit picked up victories against Solway Sharks and Sheffield Spartans to move five points behind the Hawks with a game in hand.
Forward Adam Reynolds has been on the losing side just once since returning to the club after a spell away from the game.
He grabbed the winner against the Sharks last Saturday and says he’s delighted to be back on the ice.
“Last week’s games were tough for us, which is why it was pleasing to come away with maximum points,” said Reynolds. “On Saturday we played a great road game and managed to grind out the result.
“It was nice to score the winner – it was a great cross crease pass from Dean (Holland) and it just hit my skate and went in, so I can’t really say too much about it as I didn’t do much!
“Sunday wasn’t our best performance, but we got the victory which is what good teams do – they grind out results even when they’re not playing well.
“The comeback has been great – I’m really enjoying it so far. The team has done great in the first half of the season.
“We’re not really thinking about the title, but just taking it one game at a time and go from there.”
Widnes Wild start a run of three home games on the spin this weekend which could make-or-break their Laidler D2 title challenge.
Wild currently trail leaders Deeside Dragons by eleven points, but with three games in hand and two games left against their rivals they could still make a push for top sport.
Player/Coach Scott McKenzie has boosted his roster ahead of the run-in by signing forward Thomas Ratcliffe, who returns to the club after a spell with Charlotte Rush in the USPHL.
McKenzie commented: “Tom skated with us over Christmas and you could see a massive change in his whole character.
“We will be losing Sheldon Cassidy for around a month, so Ratty will slide right into the line up and when we get Sheldon back our depth will make us stronger.
“Our next three games won’t be easy. A run of Blackburn, Nottingham and Deeside will really test the character of my players.
“We know what Blackburn bring, they’re physical, work extremely hard and will certainly make things difficult for us.
“The players are under no illusions that any game in this league is easy, so we’ll be prepared to battle for two points on Sunday.
“Deeside have been great all season. They deserve to be where they are and unless they slip up, the league is out of our hands.
“It is unfortunate, but when you are relying on a team to lose a game you probably don’t deserve to be champions.
“Whatever problems they may be having at the moment have nothing to do with Widnes – we can only go about our business to push them all the way and hope they drop points sometime before April.”
NIHL North Moralee D1
Sheffield Senators v Solway Sharks
Sheffield Spartans v Billingham Stars
Sutton Sting v Whitley Warriors
Telford Tigers NIHL v Blackburn Hawks
Blackburn Hawks v Sheffield Spartans
Whitley Warriors v Billingham Stars
NIHL North Laidler D2
Bradford Bulldogs v Coventry Blaze
Deeside Dragons v Nottingham Lions
Altrincham Aces v Hull Jets
Widnes Wild v Blackburn Eagles
(Image permission: IceHockeyMedia)