Whitley Warriors host Sutton Sting in Moralee D1 this Sunday on what is sure to be an emotional evening at Hillheads.
One of the club’s most loyal fans, Bobby Dixon, lost his long fight against cancer on Tuesday, although he did manage one last trip to watch the Warriors play before sadly passing away.
Dean Holland’s hat-trick goal 13 seconds from time handed the Warriors a 7-6 cup success over Blackburn Hawks last weekend, giving Bobby one last hurrah with his favourite team.
Holland admitted he wants this Sunday’s game to be a fitting tribute.
“I’d like to pass on my condolences to Bobby’s family and friends – he was a great man, friend and a very passionate fan of the Warriors,” he said.
“He’ll be deeply missed from everyone at the club – he’s been taken from us too soon. Everyone in the Warriors’ dressing room really liked Bobby and he was an inspiration to everyone in there.”
Warriors’ victory over the Hawks was a thrilling affair, with the hosts leading 5-0 at one stage before the Lancashire outfit fought back to tie the game at 6-6 with just over a minute to play.
With the game looking set for overtime, the Warriors were awarded a penalty shot opportunity which Holland coolly converted to seal the win.
“It was great to score a hat-trick on Sunday night – it’s been a long time since I got one,” added Holland.
“I was very relieved when it went in. I thought we started the game very well, but slowly drifted from our gameplan and that’s when they started coming back into things.
“This Sunday we’ve got Sutton who are a very good team with excellent goaltending. We’ll have to be at our best to beat them, but we’re focused on picking up another win.
“I hope everyone can turn up in their numbers and show their respect to Bobby and be as loud as possible for the one minute applause. That’s they way he liked it – loud and proud!”
Widnes Wild travel to Nottingham Lions on Sunday aiming to put some pressure on the top two in Laidler D2.
Wild trail leaders Blackburn Eagles by eight points and second-placed Sheffield Senators by four, but Player/Coach Ollie Barron believes last week’s victory over Altrincham Aces could be the catalyst for a promotion push.
“I’m hoping we’ve now reached a turning point in our season,” said Barron.
“It’s fair to say we’ve had some disappointing results but, as other results showed last weekend, this league is wide open.
“I said previously that I believe the top five teams will take points from each other over the course of the season.
“This weekend we face Nottingham which will be another tight fixture. I’m hoping for a few key players to return to the squad for the trip to the National Ice Centre.”
NIHL North Moralee D1
Blackburn Hawks v Solway Sharks (Cup)
Billingham Stars v Blackburn Hawks (Cup)
Deeside Dragons v Solihull Barons
Whitley Warriors v Sutton Sting
NIHL North Laidler D2
Bradford Bulldogs v Hull Jets
Altrincham Aces v Bradford Bulldogs
Coventry Blaze NIHL v Sheffield Senators
Nottingham Lions v Widnes Wild
(Image permission: IceHockeyMedia)