Match Preview: Stars v Scimitars 26/09/21
BILLINGHAM STARS return to the Forum for their first National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division one fixture of the season on Sunday evening, Sheffield Scimitars the visitors as the Teessiders look to make a winning start to their League campaign.
Sheffield travel to the Forum on Sunday as many observers ‘dark horses’ for a tilt at the title and some eye-opening results already in the bag. A new ‘name’ to recent fans of the Stars, the Scimitars spent season 2019-2020 in Division 2 as Sheffield Senators before making the step up during lockdown and effectively replacing rink share neighbours Sutton Sting in the higher conference. During the extended break Sheffield have assembled an impressive and experienced roster, spearheaded up front by former Sheffield Steeldog Vladimir Luka and Slovakian Stanislav Lascek who is amongst a group of players picked up from the Sting. Offensively Luka and Lascek are the standout names, but the Scimitars have forwards on every line who are more than capable of putting the puck in the net, as has been proven in their two Midlands Cup games to date where they have scored 17 goals whilst conceding just two. They haven’t got off to the best of starts in the League however, their opening game on the road in Dumfries ending in a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Solway Sharks.
The Stars go into Sunday's game with confidence despite having nothing to show from their opening North Cup fixtures against Solway and Whitley Warriors. Billingham’s young team may not have the points, but they have shown plenty of character and put up encouraging performances against two of the North division’s strongest sides. Sheffield will represent another tough test, with coach Stephen Foster identifying special play teams as specific areas for improvement. The Stars have arguably taken too many frivolous penalties as they learn how to deal with the intensity of senior hockey again, and consequently conceded too many power play goals. Billingham have been boosted midweek by the return of Jimmy Moutrey after a lengthy spell away from the sport, Jimmy’s paperwork has been completed and he should be available for selection on Sunday.
General Manager Allen Flavell is pleased with how the early season games are going, despite the zero in the win column:
“On paper we haven’t got anything from our opening two games but we have certainly learned a lot and put up two fantastic performances against two really strong sides. We have entertained the fans for sure, and I expect more of the same when Sheffield visit. Scimitars are another very tough side with a core of experienced players who should be there or thereabouts come the end of the season. However I have great faith in our lads having watched them work so hard in these opening games that a win is not too far away. We need to stay out of the penalty box, or at least we need to stop taking silly penalties that will cost us against these top sides. It’s a learning experience for this team every week, and good things will come eventually.”
Billingham welcome Sheffield Scimitars to the Forum for their opening National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 fixture on Sunday evening, face off 5.30pm (doors 4.30pm). Tickets are priced at £12 adults, £7.50 concessions, £35 family [2+2].
Nottingham Lions v Blackburn Hawks, Sunday 5pm
Billingham Stars v Sheffield Scimitars, Sunday 5.30pm
Solihull Barons v Whitley Warriors, Sunday 5.30pm
Solway Sharks v Dundee Comets, Saturday 7pm
Sheffield Scimitars v Widnes Wild, Saturday 4pm
Blackburn Hawks v Solihull Barons, Saturday 6pm