Weekend Preview: Scimitars v Stars 021021 / Stars v Wild 031021
BILLINGHAM STARS face their first National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 double header weekend buoyed by a hard-fought win over tomorrow's opponents Sheffield Scimitars last Sunday that ensured a winning start to their League campaign.
The Scimitars certainly have a point to prove after a miserable weekend last time out. An overtime loss in the Midlands Cup to Billingham’s opponents Sunday evening Widnes Wild was followed by a somewhat unexpected defeat at the Forum, leaving Sheffield still searching for their first League win. The ingredients are all there for Sheffield – a potent offensive unit was kept in check superbly last Sunday, thanks largely to a standout performance from netminder Thomas Brown. But the more expansive pad at IceSheffield will suit the Scimitars tomorrow evening and it has not been a happy hunting ground for the Stars in the past.
Sunday's visitors to the Forum, Widnes, are new into Division 1 this season having spent the entirety of their relatively short life in the lower second tier. Strong performances in a couple of invitational competitions during lockdown convinced them to make the step up, and they have put together a squad capable of ruffling a few feathers as they seek to make a name for themselves in the Moralee Conference. New coach Richard Haggar has attracted some eye-catching names from elsewhere in the region, notably netminder Harrison Walker from Blackburn who continues his two-way deal with Leeds Knights. Up front the guys getting the goals in their opening fixtures have been Czech Jakub Hajek and Latvian national Vlads Vulkanovs, neither new to the British game. Wild have had a real mixed bag of results thus far, with 50/50 records in both the League and Cup competitions, so Sunday evening’s clash should be an interesting puzzle for both coaches to solve.
Billingham’s perhaps unexpected win over a talented Sheffield side last Sunday has given them the best platform going into this weekend’s games. The larger pad at IceSheffield is one that the Stars will have to adapt their game for, the extra space will certainly suit the Scimitars creative forward play. Widnes on Sunday evening will pose a somewhat unknown challenge, however the quality of their squad cannot be underestimated and it will take two more 60-minute performances to get anything from either game this weekend. With no injury concerns, coach Stephen Foster should have a full squad at his disposal.
General Manager Allen Flavell was delighted to see his Stars get on the board last Sunday:
“What a fantastic result last week – I don’t think a single fan went away from the rink feeling anything but thoroughly entertained. We know our guys are capable of putting up these performances, we’ve seen three massive efforts from them so far, so it was particularly pleasing to see that effort finally rewarded with a win last Sunday. There is no reason to think that we can’t keep rolling and picking up points – results so far across the Conference have shown that this is going to be a very competitive league this year, with plenty for us to play for. We have shown we can live with the best and we will fight from the first buzzer to the last – every team that plays us will know they’ve been in a game.”
Billingham travel to IceSheffield for a National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 fixture against the Scimitars tomorrow evening, face off 7.30pm. They take on Widnes Wild back at the Forum on Sunday afternoon, face off 5.30pm. Tickets are priced at £12 adults, £7.50 concessions, £35 family [2+2].
Solway Sharks v Whitley Warriors, Saturday 7pm
Sheffield Scimitars v Billingham Stars, Saturday 7.30pm
Whitley Warriors v Nottingham Lions, Sunday 5pm
Billingham Stars v Widnes Wild, Sunday 5.30pm