Billingham Stars hit the road this weekend hoping to keep up the pressure at the top of NIHL North Moralee D1.
The Stars, who trail leaders Solway Sharks by four points heading into the weekend, visit Telford Tigers NIHL on Saturday before facing Blackburn Hawks the following day.
The Teessiders have lost their last three outings in the Northern Cup, but General Manager Allen Flavell is positive his team can return to winning ways in the league.
“There were a lot of good things that we could take away from last weekend – one shocker of a period cost us on Saturday, but I was really pleased with our character in how we responded and we nearly pulled it back,” said Flavell.
“We competed well on Sunday too. This weekend we will be short-benched again, with just two experienced heads at the back.
“This gives our younger team members the chance to shine though, and we have every confidence they will.
“I’m sure we will have enough offensively to trouble both teams – when we are on our game up front we can pose problems for anyone in this league.”
Whitley Warriors travel to Deeside Dragons on Sunday buoyed by a run of three victories from their last four league games.
The Warriors ran out comfortable 8-2 winners against the Hawks last weekend and Assistant Coach Dave Holland is pleased with the team’s progress.
“It was a great result and performance against Blackburn – the youngsters saw some ice time late in the game which is always a positive and Lawson Glasby grabbed a goal just like he did last week so he’s doing well,” said Holland.
“We are delighted to have taken six points against Blackburn in our recent games against them. They were league champions last year – they’re a different squad this year but it’s still a great achievement.
“We’ve got the series against them now as well which is pleasing.
“We’ve got Deeside next who we haven’t played for a long time. They’ve got imports and they play on big ice so it isn’t going to be an easy game for us on the road.”
Widnes Wild host Blackburn Eagles on Sunday aiming to get their Laidler D2 title bid back on track.
Wild lost 4-2 at Sheffield Senators last weekend and now trail the unbeaten Eagles by eight points, although they do have two games in hand.
Player/Coach Ollie Barron admits he was disappointed with his team’s performance in Sheffield and has demanded an improvement on Sunday.
“It was a frustrating game – Sheffield deserved the points as they outworked us in key areas,” said Barron.
“We didn’t show up for the first two periods to the standard I know we can play. The third period was a big improvement however we couldn’t convert our chances. Although we weren’t at our best we missed some glorious chances to score.
“We must play for sixty minutes and work harder for each other against Blackburn, which is another big test.”
“I predict the top four or five teams will take points from each other, which will make it a very interesting season.
“I knew this league wouldn’t be easy, but I expect better results going forward. We’ll continue to work hard to get the wins required.”
NIHL North Moralee D1
Telford Tigers NIHL v Billingham Stars
Blackburn Hawks v Billingham Stars
Deeside Dragons v Whitley Warriors
Sutton Sting v Solihull Barons
NIHL North Laidler D2
Blackburn Eagles v Nottingham Lions
Hull Jets v Sheffield Senators
Altrincham Aces v Coventry Blaze NIHL
Widnes Wild v Blackburn Eagles
(Image permission: David Morrison)