NIHL North weekend preview

Solway Sharks face a road trip around the Midlands this weekend, as they meet two newly-promoted teams in NIHL North Moralee D1.

On Saturday the Dumfries outfit travel to Telford Tigers NIHL, before taking on Solihull Barons the following evening.

Last week’s 12-1 win over Sheffield Senators was a boost to morale after defeats in their opening two games, and Sharks are keen to keep the momentum going.

Forward Martin Cingel, who scored five against the Senators, said: “Confidence is a big part of ice hockey – and sport and life in general. If you’re confident then things seem to go for you and players play with more freedom.

“We played with good pace and energy last weekend, and need to continue that way and take it into these two games. We have to be looking to bring all four points back home with us.”

Sharks’ Head Coach Martin Grubb, added: “Telford and Solihull in their own rinks will be tough opponents – we aren’t underestimating them at all. Tom Watkins runs the Telford programme from top to bottom, so everyone knows what they have to do.

“They have a very good goalie in Dennis Bell who I worked with at Great Britan U18s, and the likes of Callum Bowley and Macauley Heywood who can put the puck in the net.

“Solihull are two-time Laidler champions and their squad has been pretty much unchanged for a couple of years. Perry Doyle will have them well-drilled and in their own barn will be hard to play against.

“We have to take our confidence with us into the weekend, keep our defensive discipline and take the chances when they come our way.”

Tigers have adjusted quickly to life in D1, narrowly losing at Blackburn Hawks before a James Smith (above) hat-trick helped them to a 3-3 home draw against the Warriors.

Head Coach Jason Parry has been pleased with the start his team has made, but has noticed the step up in class this season.

“You have to play for 60 minutes at this level, as every team is capable of beating any other on their night – it’s like the EPL in that respect,” said Parry.

“That was the case against Blackburn, when we went three goals down within a few minutes. We had a good go after that, but it is so hard to get back into games.

“You can’t switch off in this league, even for a minute. Last season we did that a couple of times and could get it back, but you can’t do it now.”

There are three other D1 games this weekend with Sutton Sting and Sheffield Spartans meeting twice, while Telford travel to Whitley Warriors on Sunday.

Deeside Dragons put their unbeaten Laidler D2 record on the line on Saturday as they travel to Blackburn Eagles. Touted by many as title favourites Dragons have started the season in impressive fashion, but Head Coach Lol Paul is refusing to get carried away.

He commented: “I’ve said it before, but we need to go into every game like it’s a final and not underestimate anyone. The guys have to be prepared like any other match.

“The true measure of a team is how they perform on the road. We’ve proved ourselves at home, so now we have to do it away from home as well.

“The key is to get going as early as possible, and if you can score a quick goal it demoralises the home team. We’ll be looking to put down an early marker.

“We’re scoring from all over the place, which is great to see. Adrian Palak scored four great goals last week, but we had another five chip in. Everyone is contributing to this team and it’s a great way to start the season.”

The remaining D2 games on Saturday are Bradford Bulldogs at home to Widnes Wild, while Coventry Blaze face-off against Altrincham Aces. Wild return to home ice on Sunday against Blaze, Aces meet the Eagles and Nottingham Lions play Hull Jets.

(Image permission: Telford Tigers NIHL)

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