NIHL North weekend preview

Manchester’s Brian Worrall

The line up at the Moralee Conference play-offs could be finalised on Sunday. Whitley Warriors & Sutton Sting are still hoping to join Solway Sharks, Blackburn Hawks & Billingham Stars at the end-of-season showdown and both are in action this weekend.

Warriors hold a two point advantage over their rivals and know victory over Telford Titans on Sunday would guarantee their place in Dumfries.

Sting travel to Manchester Minotaurs on Saturday in the KD Flavell & Sons Northern Cup, before returning to home ice the following day to face Solway. Defenseman Simon Offord says Whitley are now in pole position to claim fourth place.

“I think we need a point at Manchester to secure a place in the cup final against either Blackburn or Solway. The way the league table looks at the minute this will probably be our only chance of silverware this season, so it’s vital we get the point we need.

“Although we can still mathematically qualify for the play-off weekend I think Whitley are well and truly in the driving seat, so all we can do is give our all and try and win our last two games.”

Manchester finished their league campaign last weekend with a spirited draw against Whitley, leaving them in seventh place. Forward Brian Worrall’s efforts this season have seen him called up to the showpiece NIHL North All-Star charity event in June and he says he’s delighted to be involved.

“I’ve said this before – I don’t think I’m an All-Star but I’m looking forward to what should be a great weekend for hockey and all in aid of a great charity. The guys at Deeside have done a brilliant job putting this together. As for the season at Manchester, we’ve pushed some of the top teams but not managed to have that killer instinct to finish games.

“There have been times when teams have completely taken us apart, though there are reasons for this, but I’m not looking to give excuses. We’ve got a good group and got closer as the season’s wore on. We’ve got to look to finish as strongly as possible and carry that through the summer and build on it for next year.”

The remaining Moralee game is on Sunday as Billingham host Sheffield Spartans.

Solihull Barons will look to claim the Laidler Conference crown on Sunday as they travel to Coventry Blaze. Barons need one point for their final four games to seal the title. There’s just one Laidler game on Saturday as Blackburn Eagles face Sheffield Senators. The Eagles are in action again the following day at Nottingham Lions, while Widnes Wild host Deeside Dragons.

(Image permission: Rob Hutchinson)

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