Stars Need Speed!
ULTIMATE WINDOWS sponsored Billingham Stars have a tricky weekend ahead of them as they try to keep pace with the early leaders in National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 with a double header against newly promoted sides Telford Tigers NIHL and Solihull Barons.Billingham travel to Shropshire tomorrow afternoon to take on a Tigers side brimming with confidence after winning three out of their last four games, including taking both points from the Forum a fortnight ago when they survived a Stars onslaught to emerge 2-3 victors. Telford may be new to the Division but their results to date are testament to how well they have settled, surprising a few of the more established teams and currently sitting pretty in fourth place, a point above Billingham. Coach Jason Parry has assembled a small squad that is fast on the breakout and resilient under pressure, as the Stars have already found out to their cost. Solihull Barons return to the Forum after an absence of three seasons on Sunday evening, and represent something of an unknown quantity for the coaching team. Early results suggest that the Barons are not quite as strong on the road as they are at their Hobs Moat Road home, but the unpredictable nature of the League this year means that Billingham can ill afford to take anything for granted. Solihull are coached by veteran defenseman Perry Doyle, an imposing blue liner who has been playing senior hockey since the late Eighties and has seen action at every level of British ice hockey over the years. The Stars got the win they needed against basement side Sheffield Senators last weekend, but are expecting much stiffer opposition this time around. The Teessiders will be encouraged by how they dominated the latter stages of their last encounter with the Tigers, although the result didn’t go their way. The squad are carrying a few knocks, with Jamie Pattison ruled out for at least four weeks with a shoulder problem and late fitness tests for Callum Davies and Mark Watson. Billingham’s General Manager Allen Flavell will be impressing the need for speed on his Stars:
“We are looking to pick up where we left off against Telford, and that means lots of intensity and aggression in our play. These Tigers boys are fast, we know that, and we need to match them. We can’t sit back and dawdle around with the puck, we need plenty of speed and we need to keep up that momentum that we had from the last game. We are aiming to get there nice and early, it’s a long trip, so we’ve got to be refreshed and prepared for the game. We owe Telford one, the team all felt gutted that we got nothing a few weeks’ ago so we should have no problem getting motivated to turn them over on their own ice.
We don’t really know what to expect from Solihull – they’ve had a decent start to the season at home but not won yet on the road. They went unbeaten last season to win Division 2 so clearly they’re no mugs. Again it will be all about keeping that level of intensity in our play – when we are dictating the tempo I am confident we can beat anybody in this League. But only if we play a full sixty minutes – there can be no switch-offs, we cannot expect to win if we only play parts of the game. We are looking at the weekend as a chance to grab all four points on offer and that’s got to be our aim.”Billingham travel to Shropshire to face Telford Tigers NIHL in a National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 encounter tomorrow afternoon, face off 5.30pm. The Stars then return to the Forum on Sunday evening when Solihull Barons are the visitors, face off 6.30pm. Tickets can be bought from the box office from 5.30pm on game night priced at £10 adults, £6 concessions, £30 family [2+2].