NIHL North preview: Stars bid to lay down play-off marker
Billingham Stars host Deeside Dragons on Sunday aiming to lay down a marker for the upcoming NIHL North Moralee D1 play-offs.
The Stars have dominated the North Wales outfit this season, winning their previous meetings by a combined scoreline of 25-6, but Director of Coaching Terry Ward has urged his team not to rest on their laurels.
“It’s all about momentum now for us – we have to get into a groove and develop a winning mentality,” said Ward.
“There is no question of taking it easy – we have to play each game from now until the play-offs with the high level of intensity that we’ll need come April.
“The Dragons are bottom of the league right now, but we know they’re capable of causing problems, plus they are fighting tooth and nail to stay in the division.
“From their point of view they have to win this game, so we need to match them in terms of desire and make sure we contain their offensive threat.”
Telford Tigers NIHL visit Solway Sharks on Saturday hoping to spring a surprise against the newly-crowned champions.
The Tigers won 4-2 at Blackburn Hawks last weekend to move off the foot of the table and Player/Coach Daniel MacKriel believes his team have the ability to beat the drop.
“I thought we showed a lot of character and thoroughly deserved the two points – Blackburn isn’t an easy place to go and play and they made us work hard,” said MacKriel.
“Defensively as a group I thought we looked a lot better and going forward, we were dangerous and creative. It could have been a lot more than four goals, but their keeper played a very good game and deserved his man of the match.
“We have three games left to save our league status and they’re against three very good sides. It’ll be tough but we are more than capable of playing anyone if we show the commitment, work rate and desire we did tonight.”
Widnes Wild head to Blackburn Eagles on Saturday knowing that anything less than a win will effectively end their Laidler D2 title hopes.
Wild trail the Eagles by three points with just four games to play and Player/Coach Ollie Barron wants his players to produce a big performance against their rivals.
“It will be a big test for our squad – I haven’t had a full squad to pick from for quite some time due to injuries and other personal commitments, but I’m hopeful of having a larger squad for this weekend,” said Barron.
“Blackburn have had a great season and they are in the driving seat to take the league title. It’s theirs to lose, but we’ll be preparing for this game like any other and look to take the two points.”
NIHL North Moralee D1
Solway Sharks v Telford Tigers NIHL
Sutton Sting v Deeside Dragons
Billingham Stars v Deeside Dragons
Blackburn Hawks v Sutton Sting
Solihull Barons v Whitley Warriors
NIHL North Laidler D2
Blackburn Eagles v Widnes Wild
Coventry Blaze NIHL v Sheffield Senators
Hull Jets v Blackburn Eagles
Nottingham Lions v Coventry Blaze NIHL
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