More Aggression Needed
ULTIMATE WINDOWS sponsored Billingham Stars need to start picking up points in National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 and must take advantage of a home tie against basement side Sheffield Senators on Sunday evening to keep in touch with the playoff chasing pack.
It has been a miserable season thus far for the Senators, effectively the Steel Cityâ€™s fourth club. Promoted from Division 2 last season, Sheffield have found life at the higher level much harder than the two teams promoted alongside them, Telford and Solihull sitting third and fourth in the League respectively. The statistics make grim reading for Head Coach Andrew Chapman â€“ no points and a goal difference of -91 tells its own story â€“ but there have been glimmers of hope lately that the Senators might yet pull off a few shocks. Last Sunday the South Yorkshiremen ran Telford Tigers very close, the game tied at 2-each until very late in the second period, when Sheffield ran out of steam and ended up on the wrong end of a 6-3 score line. Results such as this will encourage the Senators to keep pushing for that elusive win, regardless of opponent, and the Stars will have to be at the top of their game to repeat the 2-9 win they left iceSheffield with when they faced Sheffield in October.
Billingham will take nothing for granted on Sunday evening â€“ the League is the most competitive it has been for many a season. Last Sundayâ€™s derby defeat highlighted once again the Stars offensive problems, and shooting has featured highly in the weekâ€™s training sessions. The coaching team has also singled out winning more face offs as an area for improvement after being put under pressure too many times by the Warriors having lost crucial face offs in the defensive zone. Jamie Pattison remains on the long-term injury list and James Moss will miss out after a heavy fall during the Whitley game resulted in some damage to his shoulder.
Billinghamâ€™s Director of Coaching Terry Ward wants to see more aggression from his Stars on Sunday evening:
â€œWeâ€™ve looked at what didnâ€™t go quite right for us last Sunday and you will certainly see a lot more aggression on the puck from the guys this weekend. We didnâ€™t make their goalie work hard enough either, our shooting wasnâ€™t accurate enough, Lawson is a good netminder but we made things a bit too easy for him at times. Credit to the Warriors though, they tied our key men up very well indeed and we need to solve the puzzle of how we deal with that situation.
There are definitely no easy games in this League now. We came out clear winners when we faced the Senators at iceSheffield but since then they have put in some really hardworking performances and looked like they are starting to find their feet. We will not be taking them for granted thatâ€™s for sure, they will get the respect they deserve, but we do not intend to just turn up â€“ we need the points and we need to get our confidence back in front of goal. This game is the perfect opportunity for us to do just that and hopefully set ourselves up well for the trip to Blackburn in a fortnightâ€™s time.â€
Billingham host Sheffield Senators in National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 on Sunday evening, face off 6.30pm. Tickets can be bought from the box office from 5.30pm on game night priced at Â£10 adults, Â£6 concessions, Â£30 family [2+2].
Solway Sharks v Telford Tigers NIHL, 7pm Saturday
Whitley Warriors v Blackburn Hawks, 5pm Sunday
Solihull Barons v Sutton Sting, 6pm Sunday
Billingham Stars v Sheffield Senators, 6.30pm Sunday