NIHL North weekend preview

Solway Sharks bid to keep their treble chase on track this weekend with games in both the league and cup. Sharks host Blackburn Hawks on Saturday in the Trans-Pennine East/West Trophy, before a trip the following evening to meet Whitley Warriors in NIHL1 North.

Sharks’ Coach Martin Grubb is keen to get back into action after the festive break, “We know this weekend will determine who advances to the final to face Billingham and I’m sure both teams will be desperate to start the New Year in a positive manner,” said Grubb. “The next few months are sure to be tough in the league and we need to keep our momentum going with a good result at Whitley.”

Play-off chasing Sutton Sting face a home double-header with Billingham Stars and Trafford Metros visiting Ice Sheffield. Sting sit just three points off third place after two wins and a draw over Christmas, leaving Coach Ian Johnson happy with how their season is progressing, “We improved our goal difference in the last three games, although I’d have preferred maximum points,” said Johnson. “The lads have stuck at the task in hand, the systems, and it’s all paid off. Zimozdra and Sykes have settled in well and are fulfilling their potential. This weekend will be tough, but I’m still confident we can take points and keep the pressure on the teams above us.”

Saturday’s other NIHL1 North fixtures see Trafford face-off against Sheffield Spartans, while Telford Titans meet Coventry Blaze. On Sunday Telford travel north to face Blackburn.

Sunday’s big clash in NIHL2 North sees Deeside Dragons meet fellow promotion hopefuls Solihull Barons. A win for either team would move them up to second in the table and Dragons’ top scorer Shaun Kippin knows it’s an important weekend, “There’s no doubt this is our biggest game of the season so far,” said Kippin. “We’ve been working hard in training this week and it really is do or die if we want to keep our promotion bid alive.” Influential Barons defenseman Adam Andrews misses the game through suspension.

The only other game in Division Two is on Saturday with Blackburn Eagles hosting Hull Stingrays.

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