Billingham Stars bid to get their NIHL North season back on track on Sunday as they welcome Solway Sharks to Teeside.
Stars currently lie seventh in Moralee D1, but with games in hand on the teams above them they still have one eye on a top four finish.
Stars Director of Coaching Terry Ward commented: “We’ll be facing a very different Solway side to the one we beat in September. Sharks have really tightened up at the back lately – they seem to have solved their issues in defense and are getting wins based on very solid defensive performances.
“To get the win we need to do the same thing – be mean at the back, make good decisions and cut out all of the individual errors that have cost us so badly this season.
“Sunday is a must-win game for us – we cannot allow ourselves to lose sight of the play-off places. We need to be back in the chasing group and only a win is going to deliver that.”
Sharks will travel to Teesside having hosted Sheffield Spartans the previous day. After a poor start to the season, the Dumfries outfit have won five on the spin with last weekend’s trip to iceSheffield producing their second and third road wins this term.
Head Coach Martin Grubb said: “I’m delighted to return from a tough double header with four points and I felt we deserved to win both games,” he said.
“We were very solid defensively with Kieran Hobbins having a good weekend as he gets more confident. We had four ‘D’ on Saturday and five on Sunday and they were excellent all weekend.
“As a team we battled hard and it is pleasing to see the improvement we are showing in our compete level and desire to win.”
Grubb also paid tribute to injured forward Martin Cingel, who travelled with the squad despite suffering from a broken collarbone which could keep him out of action until the New Year.
“It was great to have Martin’s experience on the bench as a coach,” added Grubb. “Both him and Scott (McMeeken) played a huge part in our success. We do need to keep this momentum going now and keep winning games.”
Laidler D2 leaders Nottingham Lions travel to Altrincham Aces on Sunday looking for their eighth win from the last nine games.
Lions picked up a hard fought victory at home to Hull Jets last weekend and Head Coach Matt Bradbury was full of praise for both teams.
“We have some fantastic games against Hull and tonight was no different,” said Bradbury.
“Both teams have mutual respect for each other and have the same aims and ethos developing the next generation of young up-and-coming players.”
“I spoke with Jets Coach Andy (Daintith) after the game and we agreed that both teams and individual players have improved so much already this season, which is great to see and that the future is looking bright.”
NIHL North Moralee D1
Sheffield Senators v Sutton Sting
Solway Sharks v Sheffield Spartans
Billingham Stars v Solway Sharks
Blackburn Hawks v Solihull Barons
Whitley Warriors v Sheffield Senators
NIHL North Laidler D2
Bradford Bulldogs v Altrincham Aces
Coventry Blaze v Blackburn Eagles
Hull Jets v Widnes Wild
Nottingham Lions v Altrincham Aces
(Image permission: Dean Reeve)