Preview - regular season finale versus Solihull
The regular season draws to a close this evening for the Ultimate Windows-sponsored Billingham Stars
as they welcome Solihull Barons to Forum Ice Arena (6.30pm).
Barons were last on Teesside just two weeks ago for a rearranged game and were beaten by the Stars
in a feisty encounter.
Billingham have won three of their last four games and are three points clear of sixth placed Blackburn
in the race for the advantageous playoff draw.
Key to the recent good form has been an upturn in defence and increased productivity from the special
teams - they scored no fewer than five power play goals in the 6-3 win over Solihull on February 29th.
Coach Stephen Foster will once again have a full bench at his disposal on Sunday while Solihull are
also expected to bring a strong lineup to Teesside to pose a tough test for the home-town Stars.
Solihull are set in third place in the standings and currently will be in the same playoff group as
Billingham so there is much to be gained from the game, which is far from an end of season ‘dead
When the regular season winds up on Sunday night, the top six teams will be split into two groups -
those teams from 1st, 4th and 6th are in one group, with 2nd, 3rd and 5th in the other.
League champions Whitley Warriors have booked the number 1 seed, with Solway Sharks taking the
number 2 slot. Come the final hooter on Sunday the remaining places will be filled and the teams will
look to craft a post-season schedule which concludes with a Finals weekend for the top four teams in
Sheffield on April 11 and 12.
Planning for the post-season is of course subject to developments in the battle against COVID-19 'coronavirus' with the English Ice Hockey Association's board meeting early next week.
Stars’ General Manager Allen Flavell says his squad are looking to end their season on a high:
“We’re pretty much at full strength on Sunday and everyone is fired up to see the regular season off with
a good result. Our playoff fate is in our own hands and with the players stepping up the plate in recent
weeks we’re confident of giving Solihull a good game and keeping the run going heading into the
Sunday will be a good test, Solihull should have a full lineup and we look like we’ll play them in the
playoffs so it will be a good benchmark for us.”
On Sunday the visitors are Solihull Barons (doors 5.30pm, face off 6.30pm) at Forum Ice Arena in
Billingham. Tickets are priced at £12 adults, £7.50 concessions, £35 family [2+2].
NIHL North 1:
Sutton Sting v Blackburn Hawks - Saturday 7.30pm
Blackburn Hawks v Whitley Warriors - Sunday 5.30pm
Billingham Stars v Solihull Barons - Sunday 6.30pm
Nottingham Lions v Sutton Sting - Sunday 7.30pm