NIHL North weekend preview

Lions’ Joe Wightman in action

Solway Sharks are aiming to claim their first NIHL1 North title on Saturday as they face Trafford Metros. The Dumfries outfit have lost just once all season and victory over the Metros will complete an impressive league and cup double.

Reigning champions Billingham Stars visit the Metros on Sunday, looking to build up momentum for the end of season play-offs. Stars are unbeaten in their last nine and Coach Simon Leach is keen to keep the run going.

“It’s almost a certainty Solway will become league champions on Saturday night,” said Leach. “They’ve remained consistent throughout the season, but I’ve told the lads they can’t stop playing just because the title has gone. We’re around four weeks away from the play-offs and need to go into the season finale in a winning state of mind.”

Telford Titans need just one more point to secure their NIHL1 status but face a tough weekend double-header. On Saturday they host Blackburn Hawks, before travelling the following day to Coventry Blaze. Hawks return to home ice on Sunday as they face-off against Sheffield Spartans, while Whitley Warriors meet Sutton Sting.

Nottingham Lions can clinch the NIHL2 title this weekend if they win against Fylde Flyers & Blackburn Eagles. The Lions were relegated last season, but have bounced back in style and Coach Matt Bradbury thinks they can seal an immediate return.

“None of these lads will go through the motions,” said Bradbury. “They’ve got a good spirit and a professional attitude. We’ve just to got make sure we come focused and get the job done.”

Solihull Barons travel to face the Eagles on Saturday, while rivals Deeside Dragons and Sheffield Senators clash on Sunday. Dragons hopes suffered a blow last time out as they lost to the Barons, but Coach Steve Fellows still believes they can reach the promotion play-off.

“All is not lost. We need to make sure we’re prepared to go out and get the results we need over the next few weeks. It’s been a tough season, but it’s a long summer and I don’t want any regrets going into it. When we started out we targeted promotion and won’t give up until it’s no longer a possibility.”

(Image permission: John Knowles)

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