NIHL North weekend preview

Solihull Barons – Laidler Conference champions 2013/14

Laidler Conference champions Solihull Barons face a weekend on the road as they begin their build up to the end-of-season play-offs.

Barons travel to Hull Jets on Saturday, before a trip to Widnes Wild the following day and Coach Darren Bellerby is keen to finish the regular season on a high: “I’m pleased for the players and all connected with the Barons, but even more pleased for all the supporters who have been great this season.

“I’m sure they’ll be out in force for our last game against Deeside, and then we have a few weekends off before the play-offs. We can’t be complacent against any team in this league. Blackburn and Widnes can both hold their heads high; taking points from Nottingham and Deeside is a great achievement.

“Every year this league and the standard gets stronger, so next season should be another good battle with Coventry, Nottingham and Deeside and we’ll be doing our utmost to make sure we’re top again.”

Widnes kept their play-off hopes alive with victory against Deeside last week and Greg Ruxton hasn’t totally ruled out claiming the fourth and final slot: “Losing the last three games to Deeside wasn’t what we’d wanted, but Sunday showed how far the team has come on and how much we’ve gelled.

“The game was hard fought, with both teams having their chances, but we found a way to finish ours throughout the game. We lost our way in the last five minutes and Deeside took advantage of that, but we hung on to take the win with a true team effort.

“The Solihull game is another tough one against the champions, but the way we played against Deeside I’m sure we can give them a good game. Hopefully we can get a win and show everyone we’ll be a team to contend with next season. The play-offs look like they might be out of our reach, but you never know what can happen in the last few games.”

There’s one other game in Laidler Conference as Coventry Blaze face Blackburn Eagles on Sunday, while in Moralee Conference Telford Titans host Sutton Sting. Solway Sharks play Blackburn Hawks in the KD Flavell & Sons Northern Cup on Saturday needing a win to join Sutton in the final. Billingham Stars bring their cup campaign to a close as they travel to Manchester Minotaurs.

(Image permission: Keith & Jenny Davies)

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