Friday, 24 October 2014

NIHL North weekend preview

Manchester Minotaurs bid to kick start their NIHL North season on Saturday as they meet Sutton Sting.

Minotaurs are yet to pick up a point after six Moralee D1 games and forward Brian Worrall admits things have been a struggle so far. "It's no more than we expected as we gradually lost bodies from the start of last season, so it was always going to be tough," said Worrall.

"That said, some results have been more positive than others regardless of the score. We always work hard and have given teams like Billingham, Solway and Sutton a game, but we've lacked the ability to finish games, which is something for us to work on."

"We pushed Sutton hard last time, but to their credit they stuck in there and gradually took the game back bit by bit. I wasn't supposed to be playing this year, but I've chipped in and helped out where I can. Things will be tough all year but we'll stay positive, stick together and work hard. We don't want to be seen as the joke team in the league."

Leaders Blackburn Hawks are at Sheffield Spartans on Saturday, before returning to home ice the following day to face Billingham Stars. Solway Sharks are in British Challenge Cup action on Saturday we they welcome the EPL's Manchester Phoenix to Dumfries.

In Laidler D2, Deeside Dragons will look to continue their recent upturn in form as they face Telford Tigers NIHL on Sunday. Dragons lost their opening five games, but have improved to win four of their last five.

Forward Paul Davies said: "We started the season quite slowly with a lot of changes, people away on holidays and injuries. We lost a lot of games we should have been winning. Since then we've worked hard, settled into our lines and the results are starting to come our way. We're getting stronger and stronger and I think we will be a top two team again if we keep going as we are.

"Personally I didn't get my best start to the season, which was hard. I didn't feel like I was performing to my expectations and I only managed a single assist, but I've been working hard and settled in better now, which is showing in my performances."

Bradford Bulldogs face a weekend double-header on home ice, as they aim to recover from a miserable start to the campaign. Bulldogs are without a without a win in seven and face Telford and Widnes Wild this weekend, but defender Sarah Hutchinson can see signs of improvement.

She commented: "The lads on the team are a great set of players. We all play with the same goal, to improve game-on-game and play with massive heart and determination. It's great how well I've been accepted into the team and to be able to contribute positively with my performances.

"We'll keep working hard in training and hopefully see the differences in games as we progress this season. It definitely feels like we're heading in the right direction."

The remaining D2 games on Sunday as Sheffield Senators face Hull Jets and Nottingham Lions meet Coventry Blaze.

(Image permission: Rob Hutchinson)

Monday, 20 October 2014

UK Ice hockey round-up (w/e 19th October)

Hat-trick for Dickinson in Phoenix romp
Manchester Phoenix turned on the style in the British Challenge Cup with a 12-5 win against Blackburn Hawks - Frantisek Bakrlik (4) & Jared Dickinson (3) led the scoring.

Nick Manning scored four as Sheffield Spartans moved up to third in NIHL North Moralee D1 with an 8-5 home win against Solway Sharks. Whitley Warriors won 9-1 at home to Manchester Minotaurs.

Solihull Barons extended their lead at the top of Laidler D2 to six points after a pair of comfortable victories. Barons won 8-1 at second placed Sheffield Senators and followed up with a 9-3 home success against Nottingham Lions – Joe Henry bagged six goals over the weekend.

Senators bounced back with a 6-3 win at home to Hull Jets. Aaron Jordan hit a hat-trick for Blackburn Eagles in their 9-2 home victory against Bradford Bulldogs. Deeside Dragons enjoyed a four-point weekend, winning 7-3 at Coventry Blaze and 10-0 at home to Bradford.

NIHL1 South leaders Streatham Redskins won 6-1 at Cardiff NIHL, but they needed a late Louis Lockwood goal to snatch a point in a 5-5 draw with Wightlink Raiders. Chelmsford Chieftains won 7-4 at home to Oxford City Stars and Bracknell Hornets won by the same scoreline against Invicta Dynamos. MK Thunder won 5-4 at Oxford.

In the NIHLS D1 Cup, Invicta won 13-3 at home to London Raiders, Wightlink drew 5-5 with Solent Devils and Chelmsford won 4-2 at Solent.

Slough Jets maintained their 100% NIHL2S record with a 4-1 win at home to Chelmsford Warriors. Haringey Racers won 6-5 at Lee Valley Lions and 4-3 at Chelmsford. Bristol Pitbulls lost 7-6 at home to Basingstoke Buffalo, Invicta Mustangs fell 3-0 to Peterborough Islanders and Wightlink Tigers slipped to an 8-5 reverse against Swindon Wildcats NIHL.

EPL leaders Telford Tigers secured a four-point weekend, winning 4-1 at Peterborough Phantoms and 7-1 at home to MK Lightning. Doug Sheppard hit the winner as Basingstoke won 4-3 against Manchester Phoenix and Bison added a 5-2 success at Sheffield Steeldogs.

Guildford Flames won 5-2 at Swindon Wildcats and added a second win with a 5-1 victory at home to Peterborough. Lubomir Korhon grabbed the overtime decider as Sheffield won 2-1 at MK Lightning. Bracknell Bees stay bottom of the table after a 4-1 loss at home to Swindon.

Braehead Clan are the new leaders of the Elite League after picking up a pair of wins. Neil Trimm hit the winner in a 4-3 overtime victory against Nottingham Panthers and Clan completed a successful week with a 4-1 win at home to Coventry Blaze.

Sheffield Steelers collected four points on home ice, beating Dundee Stars 6-3 and Cardiff Devils 5-3, but their unbeaten league run came to an end as they lost 5-2 at Cardiff. Rory Rawlyk hit the winner as Coventry Blaze won 2-1 after overtime at Fife Flyers, while Jereme Tendler grabbed the shoot-out decider in their 3-2 success at home to Edinburgh Capitals.

Dundee lost 5-1 at Nottingham and 5-3 at home to Fife, while Hull Stingrays won 2-0 against Edinburgh. In the Elite Challenge Cup, Nottingham won 3-2 after overtime at Hull.

Belfast Giants advanced to the Continental Cup Semi-Finals after a thrilling weekend in Bremerhaven, Germany. Giants defeated Tilburg Trappers (Netherlands) 4-1 and CSKA Sofia (Bulgaria) 6-2, before falling to a 4-2 loss to hosts Fischtown Pinguins. However, their six point haul was enough to clinch a place at the next stage to be held in Angers, France, during November.

(Image permission: Rob Hutchinson)

Friday, 17 October 2014

NIHL North weekend preview

Sheffield Spartans bid to make it back-to-back wins in NIHL North on Saturday as they face Solway Sharks.

Spartans secured a hard fought victory at Whitley Warriors last week and forward Nick Whyatt is looking forward to facing the reigning Moralee D1 champions.

"We've had a mixed start to the season, but we're facing Solway on home ice and last week's win will give us confidence," said Whyatt.

"We've got depth to our squad this season and have four lines capable of matching anyone. Another two points would give us more momentum to take into the next fixtures.

"I've enjoyed the season so far, but I'm still a bit rusty having not played since tearing my ankle ligaments in February.

"I thought about packing up, but I've really enjoyed my time in Sheffield and didn't want to leave the game that way. We've got a good group of guys and I'm looking forward to practice and games more than ever, but it's about time we won a trophy and hopefully this will be the year."

There is one other D1 fixture on Sunday with Whitley Warriors facing Manchester Minotaurs. Blackburn Hawks are in British Challenge Cup action on the same evening as they travel to the EPL's Manchester Phoenix.

The top two in Laidler D2 clash on Saturday as Sheffield Senators host unbeaten Solihull Barons. Last weekend saw the Barons notch double figures for the fourth time this season, while Senators picked up wins against Widnes Wild and Deeside Dragons.

Forward Tom Humphries (above) scored six goals over the two games and he's keen to keep up his impressive form against the Barons and Hull Jets on Sunday.

He said: "It's always nice to get a few goals - especially if it helps the team win. I've got a good understanding with Josh Gent and Nathan Britton on our line and they make it really easy to play.

"This weekend will no doubt be another tough one against Solihull and Hull. Two points minimum would be a good result and keep up the push for a top three finish.

"I think most teams are now expecting a challenge when they face us, and I'm hoping we can keep up the good work for the rest of the year."

The remaining D2 games see Coventry Blaze face Deeside and Blackburn Eagles meet Bradford Bulldogs on Saturday, whilst the following evening Solihull welcome Nottingham Lions to Hobs Moat Road and Deeside face-off against Bradford in North Wales.

(Image permission: Gav Rawson)

Monday, 13 October 2014

UK Ice hockey round-up (w/e 12th October)

Lions' Adam Andrews won MVP v Widnes
Sheffield Spartans picked up their first NIHL North Moralee D1 win of the season after a hard fought battle at Whitley Warriors.

Ollie Barron's goal early in the third period clinched a 4-3 victory. Ivo Celar's late strike capped a 7-5 win for Sutton Sting at home to Manchester Minoaturs.

Marc Fowley (2) led Solway Sharks' scoring as they secured a 4-1 win against Whitley in the first leg of the St Andrew's Cup.

In the British Challenge Cup, Billingham Stars lost 6-2 at Manchester Phoenix and 6-1 in the reverse fixture. Sheffield Steeldogs won 7-1 at home to Solway and Chelmsford Chieftains fell 4-3 to Guildford Flames.

Solihull Barons still lead Laidler D2 after an 18-2 win at home to Hull Jets – Thomas Soar (4) & Niklas Ottosson (4) led their scoring. Nathan Britton scored four in Sheffield Senators' 8-1 win at Widnes Wild and Tom Humphries repeated the feat in their 5-4 home success against Deeside. The Dragons picked up two points with a 19-3 win at Bradford Bulldogs – James Parsons scored five.

Telford Tigers NIHL won 3-0 at home to Nottingham Lions – James Smith scored a couple. Lions bounced back with a 5-4 home victory against Widnes. Lui Brindle’s second of the night sealed a 4-4 draw for Coventry Blaze at Blackburn Eagles.

Streatham Redskins lead NIHL1 South after a 4-2 win at home to Cardiff NIHL. Wightlink Raiders enjoyed a four-point weekend, winning 6-1 on home ice against Oxford City Stars and 5-0 at Cardiff.

Anthony Leone (2) & Juraj Huska (2) led the scoring as Invicta Dynamos won 7-5 at home to Bracknell Hornets. Solent Devils forward Andrew Magee scored four in their 9-4 win against London Raiders. Mk Thunder won 4-2 at Bracknell.

Slough Jets maintained their unbeaten start to the NIHL2S season with a 6-3 win at Peterborough Islanders. Chelmsford Warriors won 11-0 against Lee Valley Lions and Basingstoke Buffalo enjoyed a 9-0 home success against Swindon Wildcats NIHL. In the D2 Cup, Haringey Racers won 8-2 at home to Wightlink Tigers.

Telford Tigers are the new leaders of the EPL. Peter Szabo, Jason Silverthorn & Dan Davies all scored twice in their 7-1 win at Guildford and Tigers followed up with a 3-0 victory at home to Swindon Wildcats. Peterborough Phantoms also picked up four points, winning 7-2 at Swindon and 3-1 at home to MK Lightning.

Joe Rand hit hat-trick for Basingstoke Bison in their 5-3 home win over the Steeldogs, but they slipped to their first regulation defeat of the season at Bracknell as the Bees clinched a 4-3 success. MK Lightning won 4-0 at home to Bracknell. Lloyd Gibson’s decider condemned Phoenix to a 3-2 loss at home to the Steeldogs.

Belfast still lead the Elite League after a comfortable 7-1 win at home to Dundee Stars. Braehead Clan picked up a trio of victories over their Scottish rivals, following up a 4-3 win at home to Fife Flyers, with 4-0 successes at Edinburgh Capitals and Dundee Stars.

Fife won 4-3 after a shoot-out at Nottingham, but Panthers gained their revenge in the return game with a 2-1 victory. Cardiff Devils won 3-1 at Coventry Blaze.

In the Elite Challenge Cup, Sheffield Steelers won 6-3 at home to Hull Stingrays, 3-1 against Coventry and ended the week with a 3-2 success at Hull. Cardiff won 7-2 at home to Hull.

(Image permission: Ed Chappell)

Friday, 10 October 2014

NIHL North weekend preview

Whitley Warriors bid to build on their steady start to the NIHL North season this Sunday as they welcome Sheffield Spartans to Hillheads.

After defeat in their opening game at Blackburn Hawks, Warriors have bounced back with a win and a draw to move into the top half of Moralee D1.

The two teams fought out a 2-2 draw in Sheffield last weekend, with Harry Harley grabbing a late equaliser for Warriors.

He said: "I feel we've made a good start to the season. We have a solid team in all areas and we're able to compete with any team in this league.

"We played Sheffield last weekend with a very short bench, but we all gave it everything we had and came away with a draw. Apart from the injured Adam Reynolds we'll have a full bench this weekend, so hopefully we should get the win."

The remaining D1 game is on Saturday as Sutton Sting meet Manchester Minotaurs. In the British Challenge Cup, Billingham Stars face a weekend double header against the EPL's Manchester Phoenix, while Solway Sharks travel to Sheffield Steeldogs on Sunday.

Nottingham Lions face two tricky looking fixtures as they aim to kick start their Laidler D2 campaign. Lions travel to Telford Tigers NIHL on Saturday, before returning to home ice the following day to face Widnes Wild.

Lions have picked up just three points this season and forward Ivo Dimitrijevs (above) is keen to get some wins on the board. He commented: "It's always exciting to play for a new team. I've been with Lions for two months and I can say only good things about this organisation.

"We're facing two very good teams this weekend, but I don't see any problems to pick up four points. We have to be stronger and focused more on our first and third period, but I just think it's because we have a very young roster and we're missing a little bit of experience. I've already seen how our young guys battle and I can see us only getting better.

"We've only played five games and three of them we lost by one goal. We just need to work on our mistakes and play better hockey with every game. It's hard to say what will happen later in season, but if we work hard and believe in ourselves our goal should be the play-offs."

Lions' Head Coach Matt Bradbury has strengthened his options ahead of the weekend, with the addition of veteran Stuart Parker to his roster.

Widnes host Sheffield Senators on Saturday, before their trip to Nottingham on Sunday and defenseman Matt Wainwright expects a tough weekend. "Sheffield have had some good results and have been getting stronger over the last couple of years," said Wainwright.

"Nottingham are always a tough team to play and with the league improving any team can beat another on their day. The weekend will be a true test of character for us. It's important for us to pick up as many points as possible this weekend to show the league that we are here to compete and challenge for the top four."

Other D2 fixtures see Deeside Dragons at Bradford Bulldogs and Coventry Blaze at Blackburn Eagles on Saturday - leaders Solihull Barons face Hull Jets and Sheffield meet Deeside on Sunday.

(Image permission: Ed Chappell)

Monday, 6 October 2014

UK Ice hockey round-up (w/e 5th October)

Solway Sharks had a mixed weekend as they began the defence of their NIHL North Moralee D1 title.

Sharks lost 6-4 on home ice to Blackburn Hawks, but bounced back with an 11-6 win at Manchester Minotaurs – Richard Bentham (4) & Struan Tonnar (3) led their scoring.

Harry Harley's late strike secured a 2-2 draw for Whitley Warriors at Sheffield Spartans.

Solihull maintained their 100% Laidler D2 record with an 8-4 success at home to Telford Tigers NIHL – Josh Bruce hit a hat-trick for Barons. Dale White scored all four goals for Coventry Blaze as they won 4-1 at home to Hull Jets.

Sergevs Jegorovs (above), Tom Humphries & Josh Gent all grabbed hat-tricks in Sheffield Senators' 12-4 victory at Bradford Bulldogs. Hull won 5-4 at home to Nottingham Lions and Blackburn Eagles lost 8-2 against Telford.

In the British Challenge Cup, Billingham Stars lost 10-2 against the Hawks, Swindon Wildcats won 3-0 at home to Wightlink Raiders and Basingstoke Bison won 7-2 at Invicta Dynamos.

Chelmsford Chieftains still lead NIHL1 South after a three point weekend. They drew 1-1 at home to MK Thunder and followed up with a 7-3 success against London Raiders. Bracknell Hornets won 4-2 at Cardiff NIHL1 and 8-2 at home to Wightlink.

Streatham Redskins picked up their fourth win in a row with a 5-1 home victory against MK Thunder. Solent Devils won 11-5 at Oxford City Stars. Juraj Huska & Billy Phillips both hit hat-tricks in Invicta's 9-4 D1 Cup success at London.

In D2 South, Cardiff NIHL2 won 5-4 at Wightlink Tigers. Peterborough Islanders enjoyed a 5-3 win against Chelmsford Warriors in the D2 Cup, while Swindon Wildcats drew 5-5 with Bristol Pitbulls.

Guildford Flames picked up four points in the EPL, winning 2-1 after a shoot-out at Basingstoke Bison and 6-3 at home to Manchester Phoenix. Telford Tigers began the week with a 4-0 defeat at home to Swindon, but recovered in style with an 11-3 win at Bracknell Bees and a 7-4 victory at home to MK Lightning.

Shaun Thompson (2) & Frantisek Bakrlik (2) led the scoring as Manchester won 7-4 at Sheffield Steeldogs. Peterborough Phantoms lost 5-4 after a shoot-out at MK Lightning, but bounced back with a 4-2 win on home ice against Swindon. Bracknell picked up their first points of the season after a 7-3 win at Sheffield.

Belfast Giants stay top of the Elite League after picking up a pair of wins against Cardiff Devils. Mike Kompon grabbed the decider in a 3-2 success and they capped off a successful weekend with a 5-2 victory. Coventry Blaze won 3-2 at home to Braehead Clan, while Hull Stingrays fell 5-2 at home to Dundee Stars.

In the Elite Challenge Cup, Fife Flyers won 5-1 at home to Edinburgh Capitals and 2-1 after a shoot-out in the reverse fixture. Nottingham Panthers won 2-1 at home to Coventry, but couldn't build on that result at Sheffield as they slipped to a 4-2 defeat. Scott Pitt scored three in Braehead’s 7-4 win at Dundee.

(Image permission: Keith & Jenny Davies)

Friday, 3 October 2014

NIHL North weekend preview

Reigning NIHL North champions Solway Sharks begin the defence of their Moralee D1 title on Saturday as they welcome Blackburn Hawks to Dumfries.

Sharks have made a stuttering start to 2014/15, winning two of their six British Challenge Cup ties played so far.

However, last week's 4-2 win at Billingham Stars was a welcome return to form and forward Struan Tonnar (left) wants to keep the momentum going.

"With the changes we've had over the summer it took us a while to get some real traction, but we're certainly getting there," said Tonnar.

"We've started to find our feet and people are starting to fill their roles well, and along with the young guns stepping we’re still a good team. Don't have anyone tell you we're not.

"Every game we've played so far has been hard and so will every game to come. Teams have signed well and are really stepping up the standard of this league. All we ask of our guys is to work harder and smarter than the rest, and if we manage that I'm sure we'll still be the team people want to beat.

"Blackburn are a fast, hardworking team that make you work for every puck and if we aren't ready from the first whistle we'll find ourselves on the back foot. We want the win as much as they do and it will be a battle, so we have to come with everything and take the game to them."

Sharks are also in action on Sunday at Manchester Minotaurs, while Sheffield Spartans host Whitley Warriors the previous day. Hawks meet Stars in the Cup on Sunday.

This week's headline game in Laidler D2 is on Sunday as leaders Solihull Barons face-off against Telford Tigers NIHL at Hobs Moat Road. Both teams enter the weekend with 100% records and Barons' Head Coach Darren Bellerby expects a difficult game.

He commented: "Our season so far is going well. Niklas Ottosson has been the icing on the cake and he, Tom Soar, Josh Bruce, Joe Henry and Richie Slater are scoring goals for fun. I'm yet to have a full squad to choose from, but we have a lot of strength in depth.

"The league is by far the strongest I've seen, with teams like Blackburn, Sheffield and Widnes all adding numbers and ability, so we need to be on top of our game when we meet them. We want to bow out of D2 on a high, hopefully with a bit of silverware, but retaining the core of these players is my main aim so we can compete with teams in NIHL1.

"Sunday's game will be a big test for us and it's been a long time since Barons have met a Tigers team since leaving the EPL. They're still unbeaten and have a great junior system producing talented players, plus a few older heads alongside them which should make for a great derby game."

Tigers also hit the road on Saturday as they travel to Blackburn Eagles. The hosts are unbeaten on home ice this term and Player/Coach Scott Barnett is pleased with the start they've made. "To double last year's points total so early in the season is a good position to be in," said Barnett.

"We'll not stop there - the aim this year was to jump up the table and with the start we've had this is still achievable. I don't see anyone taking points off Solihull, but it will be interesting to see how the season pans out for the rest of the teams. Our focus will be consistency, which is the only reason we've not won more games already."

The remaining Laidler games see Hull Jets face Nottingham Lions on Saturday, while the following day Coventry Blaze play Hull and Bradford Bulldogs meet Sheffield Senators.

(Image permission: David Morrison)

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Pez & Rob tackle charity challenge

Solihull Barons duo Perry Doyle & Rob Eley will attempt the 'Sober for October' challenge in a bid to raise cash for the Macmillan Cancer Support charity.

Perry and Rob are aiming to take a month off booze and in the process raise as much money as they can for a charity close to both their hearts.

Macmillan Cancer Support is a charity made up of millions of supporters, professionals, volunteers, campaigners and people affected by cancer.

They are a source of support, helping with all the things that people affected by cancer want and need. It's not only patients who live with cancer, they also help carers, families and communities.

In addition, Macmillan fund nurses and other specialist health care professionals and build cancer care centres.

Macmillan will be the big winner from this challenge, but between Perry and Rob there’ll be pride at stake – who will raise the most?

Please donate and help this great cause - Perry's page & Rob's page.

Monday, 29 September 2014

UK Ice hockey round-up (w/e 28th September)

Bentham scores Sharks' first at Billingham
Telford Tigers maintained their unbeaten British Challenge Cup record with a 7-1 win at home to Blackburn Hawks.

Solway Sharks fell 5-1 at home to Sheffield Steeldogs, but bounced back with a 4-2 success at Billingham Stars – Richard Bentham (2) led Sharks' scoring.

Chelmsford Chieftains almost pulled off a shock against EPL outfit Bracknell Bees, eventually losing out by the odd goal in nine.

Guildford Flames won 7-0 at home to Wightlink Raiders, while MK Lightning enjoyed a 7-2 success at Invicta Dynamos - Petr Horava (2) & Milan Kostourek (2) were amongst MK's goalscorers.

Sutton Sting got their NIHL North Moralee D1 campaign underway with a draw and a defeat. Sting raced into a 2-0 lead against the Hawks, before being pegged back to 2-2. Their first road trip resulted in a 4-2 loss at Whitley Warriors – Harry Harley bagged a brace for the hosts.

Solihull Barons continue to sweep all before them in Laidler D2. Niklas Ottosson (6) & Joe Henry (5) led the way as they romped to a 27-1 win at Bradford Bulldogs, and Henry scored another couple in a 6-1 success on home ice against Sheffield Senators.

Telford Tigers NIHL retained their 100% record with a four-point weekend. James Smith scored twice in their 5-2 home win against Deeside Dragons, while Macauley Heywood (2) & Joe Aston (2) led the scoring in a 7-6 victory at Coventry Blaze. Josh Gent hit a hat-trick in Senators’ 7-2 win against Blackburn Eagles and Deeside picked up their first points with a 5-0 success at home to Hull Jets.

In NIHL1 South, Chelmsford stayed top of the table after a 3-0 win at Bracknell Hornets. London Raiders battled to a 9-6 victory at home to Oxford City Stars. Streatham Redskins picked up four points, winning 9-6 at home to Solent Devils and 7-3 at Oxford.

Craig Tribe grabbed a hat-trick in Wightlink Raiders’ 8-7 win against Invicta. Harrison Goode’s late strike sealed a 3-2 success for MK Thunder at Cardiff NIHL1. Solent lost 11-1 at home to Bracknell.

Slough Jets kept up their winning ways in NIHL2S with a 13-0 victory at Invicta Mustangs. Chelmsford Warriors also won by the same scoreline against the Mustangs. Cardiff NIHL2 won 6-2 at Swindon Wildcats, while Haringey Racers drew 6-6 with Peterborough Islanders. In the D2 South Cup, Basingstoke Buffalo won 10-2 at home to Wightlink Tigers.

Basingstoke Bison maintained their 100% record in the EPL with a 2-1 shoot-out win at home to Telford Tigers – Ciaran Long got the winner. Manchester Phoenix enjoyed a four-point weekend, winning 4-1 at MK Lightning and 3-2 at home to Peterborough Phantoms. Swindon Wildcats lost 3-1 at Sheffield Steeldogs, while Guildford Flames slipped to a 2-1 overtime defeat at Peterborough.

Belfast Giants began the Elite League weekend in style with a 4-2 win at home against Coventry Blaze, but followed up with a shock 6-1 home defeat to Fife Flyers. Cory Tanaka grabbed a hat-trick as Hull Stingrays won 6-1 at Nottingham Panthers. Stingrays were disappointing back on home ice as they fell 2-0 to Braehead Clan.

In the Elite Challenge Cup, Joey Martin bagged the shoot-out decider In Cardiff’s 3-2 win at Sheffield Steelers and the Devils followed up with a 5-1 success at home to Nottingham Panthers.

Steelers bounced back with a 3-2 overtime victory at Coventry – Tyler Mosienko got the winner. Matt Ryan hit the decider in Dundee’s 3-2 win at Edinburgh Capitals and Stars followed up with a 6-4 success on home ice – John Mitchell scored three. Fife won 4-0 at home to Braehead.

(Image permission: David Morrison)

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Sting ready for the new season

The 2014/15 NIHL North season finally gets under way for Sutton Sting today after a long off-season of rebuilding.

Sting kick things off against Blackburn Hawks at IceSheffield, before tomorrow's trip north to meet Whitley Warriors.

Matt Darlow took over as Head Coach during the summer and he's upbeat about their chances this weekend."Our guys have prepared well to take on the challenge of this season, with a real focus on team development," said Darlow.

"While others may worry about beginning a campaign against two of the top teams in NIHL North, we have no illusions as to what is required to beat them. Blackburn are a quality outfit, no doubt about that, but I wouldn't be doing my job correctly if I didn't know their strengths and weaknesses and more importantly how we can exploit their weaknesses to the fullest.

"Whitley away will be the usual fire and brimstone affair and it’s always a tough barn to play in, but the old days of being intimidated going to Hillheads are long gone and if you look throughout our roster we are full of guys who’ll take care of our team.

"We'll look to do what every other team is trying to do at this time of year and that is to establish a foothold in this league early, play some good hockey and learn as we go. It's great to be at the helm and working with a positive group of people at Sutton."

Sting narrowly missed a play-off slot last term, but Darlow believes he has a talented roster at his disposal for the Moralee D1 2014/15 season.

"This unit is capable of playing a very high level of hockey and we'll focus on the simple things that are needed to be effective every shift of every game. As long as we do the little things right, the bigger picture will take care of itself.

"We have the opportunity to play some hockey, enjoy the season ahead and learn every step of the way as a group, while introducing our younger guys to the life of an NIHL1 hockey player.

"This is a powerful thing we have here at Sutton Sting and when you have a happy, motivated set of individuals who buy into what is possible then you have a team that can achieve above and beyond if it chooses to do so."

Friday, 26 September 2014

NIHL North weekend preview

Telford Tigers NIHL make their home league debut on Saturday, as they welcome Deeside Dragons to Shropshire.

Tigers began life in NIHLN Laidler D2 with a win at Sheffield Senators and aim to build on that this weekend.

The following day they travel to Coventry Blaze and forward James Smith (left) is targeting two wins: "The first game went well considering we're a new team and had only trained together four times," said Smith.

"If you take out the first period we only conceded two and scored six goals, so if we play like we did in those last two periods we can beat any team in this league.

"This weekend I believe we can secure four points. We have good systems that we’re training every session, to build a strong team to challenge for the league this year."

Blaze lost their opening game against Hull Jets, but bounced back with a win and a draw last weekend. Dale White's second of the night capped a stirring comeback success at Widnes Wild on Sunday and he believes Blaze will only get better.

White said: "It was a rocky start for us as we didn’t really gel as a team. The last couple of games there have been big improvements. Instead of trying to take the puck end-to-end we're starting to make plays, which is resulting in us creating some good chances.

"We definitely won’t make it an easy game for Telford. We have a few things we've worked on this week to be ready for them on Sunday."

Hull have made an impressive start to the season with victories against Coventry and Blackburn Eagles. Jets travel to Deeside on Sunday looking to continue their run, but Head Coach Andy Daintith is wary of facing the winless Dragons: "It was a difficult summer for us as the rink was closed for refurbishment, so it was hard work getting everyone prepared.

"We've had two great results so far – James Pease has a big strong squad at Coventry and they'll become a big problem to play against. Scott Barnett has to take so much credit for turning Blackburn around - they come to play every night.

"I'm so proud of all my guys at Hull, we have an excellent changing room atmosphere and great veteran leadership. Its a small squad, but they give their all every game and that's all you can ask for as a coach.

"Deeside hasn't been a great place to for Jets results in recent times, so hopefully our luck will change. They haven't had the best of starts having lost a few players, but they still have a lot of quality throughout their team - they will come good."

The remaining D2 games see Solihull Barons travel to Bradford Bulldogs on Saturday, before returning to home ice the following day to face the Senators. The Eagles meet Sens in Sheffield on Saturday.

In the British Challenge Cup Solway Sharks face the EPL's Sheffield Steeldogs on Saturday, followed by a trip to Billingham Stars on Sunday. Blackburn Hawks meet EPL opponents the same evening as they travel to Telford Tigers.

Sutton Sting begin their Moralee D1 campaign on Saturday against the Hawks, while on Sunday they head north to face Whitley Warriors. Check C2C tomorrow morning for Sting Head Coach Matt Darlow’s thoughts on the weekend and his hopes for their season.

(Image permission: Telford Tigers)

Quartet back for Sutton

NIHL North outfit Sutton Sting have added another four names to their roster, with Simon Offord, Ryan Johnson, Richie Oliver and Shannon Lingwood all agreeing a further year with the club.

Defenseman Offord (left) has made over 100 appearances in Sting colours over the past four seasons and Head Coach Matt Darlow is happy to have him on board once again.

"Simon is a strong, confident D-man who knows what he's doing and who works well in all situations. He'll also show the younger guys coming up through the ranks the 'Sutton Way.' He’s a great addition to our roster."

Offord said: "It's been great here at Sutton right from the very start and I'm delighted I was asked to stay for another season. We have a strong roster and I know we're going to do well in the league this year."

Ex-Elite League & EPL defenseman Johnson is entering his third campaign with Sutton, but he will have a different role this coming season.

"Ryan is a brilliant addition to our strong roster, but he'll play as a forward this season," said Darlow. "He adds strength and power to our game and it was an easy decision on him returning for 2014/15."

Oliver has been a prolific points scorer for Sting, bagging over 130 points in three seasons with the club. He commented: "I'm happy to be back here with Sting. Hockey is a big part of my life and I’m looking forward to a great season with a great team and friends."

Former Blackburn junior Lingwood switched over the Pennines in 2011, featuring for both Sheffield Spartans and Senators during the course of the season. He signed for Sutton ahead of the 2012/13 campaign and has gone on to make around 50 appearances.

Darlow described Lingwood as a ‘smart player’ who will work alongside youngsters looking to progress with the club.

(Image permission: Gary Apsley)