NIHL North preview: Warriors start looking up

Whitley Warriors host Blackburn Hawks on Sunday aiming to continue their recent improvement in form.

After a disappointing opening month in NIHL North, the Warriors have won their last two league and cup games to kick-start their season.

The Hillheads outfit secured a 3-2 road victory against the reigning Moralee D1 champions last weekend and forward Shaun Kippin is keen to keep the momentum going.

“Last week was a good result for us – we’ve had a slow start to the season and the bounces haven’t been going our way, so it was good to change that,” said Kippin.

“Blackburn will be wanting revenge this weekend and we’ll have to be ready for that. The team is improving every week and now we need to start to put points on the board, especially at home.”

The Hawks have made a stuttering start to the defence of their title, losing three of their first six league games and defender Bobby Streetly is desperate to improve on that run of form.

“This season has been a bit of a roller-coaster so far,” said Streetly.

“We’ve proved we have the team to compete at the top of this league, but we just need to find some consistency in our game.

“Not picking up any points last weekend was a big wake-up call and we know we have to outwork every team in this league to have success.

“We have a big challenge on our hands in Whitley, as it’s arguably the hardest place in the country to go and pick up points from.

“We just need to keep it simple – play shift-by-shift, outwork them and we should be just fine.”

Telford Tigers NIHL face Sutton Sting on Saturday hoping to avoid slipping to the bottom of the table.

The Tigers’ road win against Sting during September is their only victory so far this season – leaving them just a point in front of Sutton and Whitley heading into the game.

“We’re working hard each week in training and the effort levels are high. We just need to be smarter in certain situations,” Assistant Coach Jason Parry said.

“The league has improved once again this year and we need to follow suit. We know what strengths the Sting have, but we’ll be focusing on our own game and taking it a shift at a time on the ice.”

Solway Sharks turn their attention to the Northern Cup on Saturday as they welcome Billingham Stars to Dumfries.

The Sharks are flying high in the league with a 100% record and currently have two victories from three cup matches.

The visitors will be in buoyant mood after two victories last weekend which moved them up to second in the league, while they are just ahead of the Sharks at the top of the cup standings.

Sharks’ boss Martin Grubb said: “I’m happy with how we’ve started the season, but there’s still room for improvement and we continue to work hard in practice to get things right.

“Billingham have impressed me this season with their speed and skill and they took advantage of our free week to jump up in both the league and cup tables. No doubt they will be right up there come the season’s end.

“We’ve been working hard on limiting scoring chances against us and playing solid team defence. Kieran (Hobbins) has been good in nets and given us the chance to win each night – I was pleased he got his deserved shut-out against Sutton.

“There’s a solid defensive core and this is the foundation that we build our success on. We have a good mix of youth and experience and everyone is hungry to play and buy into our philosophy. We’ll be ready to go come Saturday night.”


NIHL North Moralee D1


Solway Sharks v Billingham Stars (Cup)
Telford Tigers NIHL v Sutton Sting


Whitley Warriors v Blackburn Hawks
Solihull Barons v Deeside Dragons

NIHL North Laidler D2


Altrincham Aces v Nottingham Lions
Blackburn Eagles v Coventry Blaze NIHL
Sheffield Senators v Bradford Bulldogs

(Image permission: Shaun Kippin – IceHockeyMedia; Telford Tigers NIHL – PSD-Images)

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