NIHL North weekend preview

Whitley Warriors bid to build on their impressive start in NIHL North Moralee D1 this weekend as they face two newly promoted teams.

Unbeaten Warriors travel to Telford Tigers NIHL on Saturday, before returning to home ice the following evening to face Solihull Barons.

With new Player/Coach David Longstaff at the helm Warriors have looked much improved this season, picking up victories against Solway Sharks and the Barons.

Forward Shaun Kippin has returned to Hillheads after a spell out of the game through injury and said he’s delighted to be back on the ice.

“We’ve had a good start to the season – the training sessions are enjoyable and I’m learning new things with David as coach,” said Kippin.

“We’re all really happy but aren’t getting carried away. We’ve beaten two good teams, but every game in this league is going to be hard. I’ll be working hard in training to improve as a player and hopefully help the team get back into the end-of-season play-offs.”

Sutton Sting get their season underway on Sunday with a trip to reigning champions Blackburn Hawks. Sting appointed John Ross as their new Player/Coach during the summer, and despite a lack of competitive pre-season games he’s pleased with their preparations.

“We started earlier than usual and the lads have been working extremely hard,” said Ross. “We have a larger squad this season, and will be fitter and more organised. It’s a tough opener in Blackburn, but we’re ready and looking forward to getting started.

“Our goal this season is simple – we’ll focus solely on the next game as there’s no point looking any further than that. It’s going to be a very competitive season with the addition of the three promoted teams, plus the likes of Whitley and Solway adding some real class and experience to their already strong squads.

“Billingham Stars and Blackburn were the strongest teams last term and won’t be far away again, while Sheffield Spartans had a great year finishing fourth and have added two imports, so we’ll need to be at our best every night to take the points.”

There are two other D1 games this weekend, with Solway hosting Sheffield Senators on Saturday and Spartans travelling to Teesside to face Stars on Sunday.

Early Laidler D2 leaders Deeside Dragons are in action on Saturday as they welcome Altrincham Aces to North Wales. Dragons started their season in style with wins against Blackburn Eagles and Widnes Wild and will expect to build on that this weekend.

Forward James Parsons led the scoring against the Eagles and he was impressed with the two performances: “There were a lot of good goals scored by the team last weekend, and on a personal level it was good to get four goals.” said Parsons.

“All the lines are playing well together and there’s a real buzz around the changing rooms that we can do well this season. We’re looking forward to facing the Aces – they always have hard working teams so it should be a great game.”

Second placed Nottingham Lions travel to Bradford Bulldogs on Saturday, before hosting the Eagles on Sunday. Hull Jets also face a weekend double header, making the trip to Coventry Blaze on Saturday before meeting the Bulldogs at home the following day.

(Image permission: Keith & Jenny Davies)

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