NIHL North preview: Tigers bid to bounce back

Telford Tigers NIHL host Blackburn Hawks on Saturday hoping to kick-start what has been an indifferent start to their Moralee D1 season.

Tigers significantly strengthened their squad during the summer, but have won just once in five games to leave themselves sixth in the early standings.

Last week’s 3-2 defeat at Deeside Dragons was a particularly bitter pill to swallow, with former forward Scott McKenzie’s 45th minute goal ultimately proving to be the difference.

Hawks head into the game with criticism from Head Coach Matt Darlow ringing in their ears.

Darlow described last Sunday’s performance at home to Solihull Barons as “embarrassing”, but Tigers’ boss Daniel MacKriel expects his former team to come out firing on Saturday.

“I know first hand that they have a fantastic fanbase who are extremely passionate about their team,” said MacKriel.

“With an already solid core to their group, they have added more quality and it would be a surprise if they weren’t up there challenging come the end of season.

“Last Sunday we had a lesson in competing for sixty minutes. In fairness, we dominated the second and third period and if it wasn’t for an inspired netminding performance from Deeside, we could have seen a different scoreline.

“We learn, regroup, dust ourselves off and go again.”

Billingham Stars hit their home ice twice this weekend, hosting Whitley Warriors in the Northern Cup on Saturday before welcoming Deeside in the league the following day.

Stars have already recorded victories over both teams this season, but Director of Coaching Terry Ward is taking nothing for granted.

“I’m really looking forward to this weekend – the derby is always a challenge,” said Ward.

“We expect a response from the Warriors after last Sunday, but we are in front our own fans now and we want to send them home happy.

“We thought we should have had more goals than we scored so this is a chance to put that right.

“We haven’t seen the Dragons here on Teesside for a long time so again I’m looking forward to their visit.

“Scott McKenzie is an excellent player and coach – maybe we did him a favour with that defeat in the first game because they haven’t looked back since.

“Certainly we are expecting a much tougher game – they will cause us more problems and we need to keep an eye on their star players.

“Hopefully we’ll have too much for them on our own ice.”

WEEKEND FIXTURES

NIHL North Moralee D1

Saturday

Billingham Stars v Whitley Warriors (Cup)
Solway Sharks v Sutton Sting
Telford Tigers NIHL v Blackburn Hawks

Sunday

Bilingham Stars v Deeside Dragons

NIHL North Laidler D2

Saturday

Blackburn Eagles v Bradford Bulldogs
Coventry Blaze NIHL v Altrincham Aces
Sheffield Senators v Hull Jets

Sunday

Widnes Wild v Blackburn Eagles

(Image permission: PSD-Images)

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