NIHL North weekend preview

Solway Sharks return to NIHL North action this weekend boosted by the signing of defenseman James Wallace.

The 20-year-old was part of Sharks’ treble-winning side of 2013-14, before moving to the Elite League’s Edinburgh Capitals.

A change in his personal circumstances meant he was looking to return closer to home and the Dumfries outfit were able to complete the deal.

Head Coach Martin Grubb (above) said: “I’m delighted to be able to welcome James back to the club. When he called me and explained his personal situation it was a no-brainer for us to bring him back.

“He left here with our best wishes after playing a big part in our treble-winning year and I’m excited to work with him again.

“He’s now older and more experienced and will be expected to play a big part in this team and we’ll see a better player than when he was last here.

“One of the most important parts is he’ll fit straight back into our dressing room and that’s always important when adding new players halfway through the year.

Sharks host Sheffield Senators on Saturday in what will be their first game since November.

A series of postponements during December has left them in seventh place in Moralee D1, but with games in hand on the teams above they still harbour hopes of a play-off spot.

“It was frustrating to have the games called off but we’ve had a nice break with the players taking time away to fully recharge their batteries, spend time with family and recover from injuries,” said Grubb.

“As we start the second half of the season and make our assault on a play-off spot we know that consistency will be vital, and we need to find a way to pick up points at home and on the road to move up the standings.

“Senators work hard for sixty minutes, game in, game out, so we need to need to ensure we’re ready from the first puck drop and take the game to them.

“Our defensive zone needs to be better and our transition is important – we want to play at a high tempo for sixty minutes and not let them into the game.”

Whitley Warriors travel to league leaders Blackburn Hawks on Sunday for a game that could make-or-break their title challenge.

Warriors, who trail the Hawks by five points going into the game, have confirmed forward Adam Reynolds has rejoined their roster after a spell away from the game.

Reynolds commented: “Having watched the Warriors games this season it made me miss playing and my oldest son was bugging me to start again.

“I’m looking forward to working with Lobby (David Longstaff) and Dave Holland again.

“Hopefully I can contribute in some ways to continuing the great work the team has done so far this season. I feel I have a lot to give and want to get back to my best after a tough season from injury last year.”

Widnes Wild are in league and cup action this weekend as they look to bounce back from last week’s disappointing 3-2 defeat at Nottingham Lions.

Wild travel to D1 outfit Billingham Stars on Saturday for their first Northern Cup game of the season, before returning to home ice on Sunday to face Altrincham Aces in Laidler D2.

The Lions result saw Wild drop to third in the table and Player/Coach Scott McKenzie is hoping for improved performances from his team this weekend.

“That’s probably the worst first period we’ve ever played,” said McKenzie. “We didn’t do anything that we set out to do, were second to loose pucks and played scared for the most part.

“I’ve said it to the guys over and over – no-one is going to give us the two points each night, we have to earn them and tonight we just didn’t.

“It’s frustrating because I know how good we can be, but we will regroup and work hard to prepare for another big weekend.”

WEEKEND FIXTURES

NIHL North Moralee D1

Saturday

Billingham Stars v Widnes Wild (Cup)
Sheffield Spartans v Blackburn Hawks
Solway Sharks v Sheffield Senators
Telford Tigers NIHL v Sutton Sting

Sunday

Blackburn Hawks v Whitley Warriors
Solihull Barons v Billingham Stars
Sutton Sting v Telford Tigers

NIHL North Laidler D2

Saturday

Bradford Bulldogs v Nottingham Lions
Coventry Blaze v Hull Jets
Deeside Dragons v Blackburn Eagles

Sunday

Nottingham Lions v Deeside Dragons
Widnes Wild v Altrincham Aces

(Image permission: Mark Paterson)

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