Ultimate Windows sponsored Billingham Stars

BILLINGHAM STARS are in both North Cup and National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 action this weekend, a trip to Dumfries to take on Solway Sharks in the Cup tomorrow followed by a home League game against Nottingham Lions on Sunday evening.

Tomorrow is the second Cup meeting between Billingham and Solway in this round-robin stage, the Sharks coming out on top in a closely-fought game last month. Already the Scots look like they will again be amongst the challengers for silverware this season, currently sitting top of both the League and Cup tables with just one loss so far this season. Their eight victories to date have included home and away wins over preseason favourites Whitley Warriors, the latest coming last Sunday when the Sharks triumphed by the odd goal in nine in a chippy Cup game at Hillheads. A smaller squad than some of their nearest rivals, Solway have yet to sign any imports but have strengthened this week with the return of Steven Moore.

Nottingham Lions are the visitors to the Forum on Sunday still searching for their first points as they prop up the League table. Known for their youth development programme, the Lions have suffered from their own success as a number of players have attracted interest from other teams and departed for pastures new. The policy of bringing on younger players continues however, with the majority of the squad aged 20 or under. Older heads such as captain Luke Thomas are on hand to lend the experience they need to cope with the challenge posed by a strong Division 1, however they have so far struggled to make an impact and a goals against total of 49 conceded in just six games tells it’s own story. Also of concern to coach Matt Bradbury must be the number of penalties taken, a weakness the Stars special teams should look to take advantage of.

A superb win over third-placed Solihull Barons last Sunday has given an already positive Billingham dressing room another injection of adrenaline as they head into a weekend of contrasting challenges. A six-goal contribution from Callum Wilkinson and another standout performance from Thomas Brown between the pipes has given the Teessiders renewed confidence. Coach Stephen Foster will have a full roster available for selection, and is boosted by new signing Patriks Grigors. Grigors, a 20-year-old Latvian defenceman, joins the Stars after spending his entire senior career to date in Scotland, most recently with Dundee Comets.

General Manager Allen Flavell is looking for the ‘same again’ from his Stars:

“Last Sunday we really showed what we are capable of, with Callum leading the way and showing what happens when you put yourself in the right place at the right time! With Tom stopping whatever the Barons threw at him, we gave the League a heads-up that we are not a team to take lightly. The spirit in the dressing room is the best it’s ever been and the arrival of Patriks has given everyone another lift. If we can put on the same show this weekend as we did against Solihull then anything is possible.”

Billingham face Solway Sharks in the North Cup tomorrow evening, face off 7pm. They then take on Nottingham Lions in a National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 fixture at the Forum on Sunday, face off 5.30pm. Tickets are priced at £12 adults, £7.50 concessions, £35 family [2+2].

 

Weekend Fixtures:

NIHL(N)1:

Sheffield Scimitars v Widnes Wild, Saturday 4pm

Billingham Stars v Nottingham Lions, Sunday 5.30pm

Blackburn Hawks v Whitley Warriors, Sunday 6pm

North Cup:

Solway Sharks v Billingham Stars, Saturday 7pm

Midlands Cup:

Solihull Barons v Widnes Wild, Sunday 5.30pm