Match Preview: Lions v Stars 311021
BILLINGHAM STARS will travel to Nottingham on Sunday afternoon to take on the Lions in an immediate return National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 fixture, the two teams having done battle at the Forum last Sunday when the Stars eventually came out on top 2-1 in overtime.
Despite their lowly status at the bottom of Division 1, Nottingham pushed Billingham all the way last weekend, indeed they led for much of the game until Patriks Grigors eventually levelled things up with a home debut goal in the final period before Ben Davison broke Lions’ hearts with the winner 43 seconds into overtime. The result, whilst perhaps closer than expected, reflected two teams willing to ice four lines and put their faith in youth, Nottingham’s standout player being 16-year-old netminder Matthew Bloor. The single point that the Lions gained for the overtime loss is their first in Division 1 since season 2017-2018 and will undoubtably give them a huge boost going into tomorrow’s game. Coach Matt Bradbury will not stray from the ‘grand plan’ of developing talent, and whilst experienced heads such as captain Luke Thomas are around to provide support, it will be to the likes of Bloor and last Sunday’s goalscorer James Shaw that Bradbury looks to deliver the goods.
The Stars showed the character that they have displayed all season so far to give North Cup leaders Solway Sharks a scare on home ice on Saturday, then to overcome a stubborn Nottingham outfit late on Sunday. The management team keep pointing to a superb spirit in the dressing room, and that spirit is evident as the Teessiders continue to confound early season expectations. The larger ice pad at Nottingham is something that Billingham will have to cope with better than they have done thus far, especially at Sheffield and Blackburn, however the presence of new defenceman Grigors will help the Stars to tighten up and give the younger blueliners that little extra confidence to play their game. Sunday should see a full bench available to coach Stephen Foster, with the exception of Lennon Thomas who will travel to Sheffield to turn out for the Under 18s.
General Manager Allen Flavell can see how much his side are playing for each other:
“It is clear week after week that these guys are not going to lie down for anyone. It would have been so easy for them to let their heads drop last Sunday in particular, nothing seemed to be going for us and Nottingham really dug their heels in, but the lads just kept going and we got a deserved victory in the end. The whole team is giving 100% effort and that’s all we’ve ever asked. This weekend we have another shot at the Lions, they’ve proved that – like ourselves – playing as a team and hard work can pay dividends, we need to make sure we work harder. We didn’t underestimate Nottingham last weekend and we certainly won’t this weekend, they are on home ice and getting that point will have given them the belief that they can turn us over. We need to bring our ‘A’ game as we have all season and battle for the win.”
Billingham travel to the Midlands on Sunday for a National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 fixture against Nottingham Lions, face off 5pm.
Solway Sharks v Solihull Barons, Saturday 7pm
Sheffield Scimitars v Whitley Warriors, Saturday 7.30pm
Nottingham Lions v Billingham Stars, Sunday 5pm
Whitley Warriors v Blackburn Hawks, Sunday 5pm
Widnes Wild v Solihull Barons, Sunday 5.30pm