Telford Tigers NIHL host Solihull Barons on Saturday aiming to end a run of four successive defeats in Moralee D1.
The Tigers were fancied to challenge for NIHL North honours this season, but after blowing a four-goal lead at home to Sutton Sting last weekend to lose 6-5 they find themselves bottom of the table.
Head Coach Daniel MacKriel said: “The last few weeks have been tough – we’ve have been in the mix in our games, but we are going through patches where we switch off and start conceding goals.
“This really needs to change and although it’s very frustrating, I still believe in the players we have here.
“Solihull have lots of talent in their forward line-up and a defensively sound group at the back, which is rubber-stamped by two very good keepers.
“The Barons work very hard in all areas of the ice – if we want to get something out of the game then we need to better their work rate, play smart and simple.”
Whitley Warriors travel to Solway Sharks on Saturday with their confidence boosted by three consecutive victories.
The Warriors produced a dominant display against Blackburn Hawks last weekend to move up to sixth in the table and defender Lawson Glasby is hoping to continue in the same vein against the Sharks.
“I thought last Sunday’s game was a brilliant performance – probably our best so far,” said Glasby.
“It’s great to have the confidence to come out after a few good results and know that we have the ability to not just beat teams, but dominate for most of the game.
“I think our early goals, especially in front of a home crowd and having a full squad of players definitely had an impact on the game.
“Obviously the first game against Solway didn’t go how we wanted it to, but the team has come a long way since then. Training has been better and better every week plus a string of good results.
“Playing in Solway will be a different game to Whitley because of the layout of the ice and the size of the end zones, but hopefully we’ll be able to adapt quickly and maybe even get a result out of them.”
Promotion-chasing Blackburn Eagles head to Altrincham Aces on Sunday hoping to maintain their perfect record in Laidler D2.
The Eagles have already beaten the Aces twice this season, while last weekend’s 11-0 success against Coventry Blaze NIHL was the first-ever time the team had recorded a shut-out.
Captain Wayne Slater (above) admits he’s delighted with the Eagles’ progress this term.
“After a good season last year the key for us to move forward was to keep the main core of the team together,” said Slater. “Scott (Barnett) managed to do that and more with some great additions.
“There’s been a buzz around the team and everyone has been onboard from the beginning. The Eagles is like a family and that includes the fans who’ve been nothing short of amazing at both home and away games.
“It was important to get off to a good start and we believed we could do it. A good opener against Coventry followed by the tough double-header against the Aces was just what we needed to get us rolling.
“It’s certainly not been easy, but we’ve been professional and remained focused on our jobs and got things done on the ice.
“Last weekend’s win was extra special, as it gave our long-serving netminder Nick Saxton his and the team’s first ever shutout – one he worked hard for and thoroughly deserved.
“It’s important for us to keep our focus and we do that by taking it one game at a time. We certainly won’t get ahead of ourselves, as there’s a long way to go until the end of the season and teams will be wanting to take a scalp.
“I don’t expect anything less than a tough hard-fought game as usual against the Aces this weekend.”
NIHL North Moralee D1
Blackburn Hawks v Billingham Stars (Cup)
Solway Sharks v Whitley Warriors
Telford Tigers NIHL v Solihull Barons
Billingham Stars v Solway Sharks (Cup)
Solihull Barons v Sutton Sting
Whitley Warriors v Blackburn Hawks
NIHL North Laidler D2
Bradford Bulldogs v Altrincham Aces
Coventry Blaze NIHL v Nottingham Lions
Sheffield Senators v Widnes Wild
Altrincham Aces v Blackburn Eagles
Nottingham Lions v Bradford Bulldogs
(Image permission: Telford Tigers NIHL – Keith & Jenny Davies; Wayne Slater – Rob Hutchinson)