NIHL North weekend preview

Sheffield Spartans 2013/14

Sheffield Spartans will look to keep their NIHL North play-off hopes on track this Sunday as they travel to play Whitley Warriors.

Spartans are much improved this year, currently lying third in Moralee Conference, and captain Ollie Barron is pleased with their season so far: “We’re in a great position at the moment, but we have to play Whitley home and away along with a trip to Billingham before Christmas, so it’s vital we pick up points to stay in the chase a play-off spot.

“It’s always difficult visiting Hillheads, but we go there full of confidence after two gritty victories against Telford and Sutton. We’ll be at full strength and are confident of repeating the result from our victory over Whitley earlier in the season.

“On a separate note, if you haven’t done so already, could you please vote for our very own Ice & Slice – aka Phil Holden – in the British Ice Hockey Fan of the Century Award. Voting closes at Midnight on Sunday so there’s not much time left. Visit IceTechUK to cast your vote.”

Sutton Sting face a league and cup double-header against Blackburn Hawks this weekend. Sting cross the Pennines on Saturday for a KD Flavell & Sons Northern Cup game, before returning to home ice the following evening in the league.

Sting have bounced back to form in recent weeks, but forward Thomas Stuart-Dant expects a difficult couple of games: “Going into this weekend everyone is on the up and up. Winning four out of the last five games can do that to a team, but we can’t take Blackburn for granted. We’re going to go into this with a positive view and will fight hard for the four points up for grabs.”

League leaders Solway Sharks host Telford Titans on Saturday, while Billingham Stars and Manchester Minotaurs clash in the Cup on Sunday.

Laidler Conference leaders Deeside Dragons put their title credentials on the line on Sunday with a difficult looking trip to Solihull Barons. Dragons extended their unbeaten run to seven games with victory over Nottingham Lions last week, while Barons have won their last six.

Forward James Parsons bagged the winner against Lions and says Dragons are improving every week: “We’ve had a great start to the season. Since we lost to Coventry we’ve got stronger and are playing with a lot of confidence, with every player chipping in with points. Solihull are a tough side on their rink, so we’ll have to be at our best to get a result.”

The remaining games see Widnes host Hull Jets, while Coventry Blaze face-off against Blackburn Eagles.

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