Stars Aim To Draw Sting
ULTIMATE WINDOWS sponsored Billingham Stars will follow up last Sundayâ€™s draw at North East neighbours Whitley Warriors by aiming to go one better on the road on Sunday evening as they travel to iceSheffield to take on Sutton Sting in National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1.
A bogey team for the Stars away from home last season, Sutton had a relatively quiet off-season and did not reveal the majority of their squad until the eve of their campaign getting underway. With theÂ core of last yearâ€™s side retained, the Sting then upset rink-share rivals Sheffield Senators by poaching Latvian defenseman Sergejs Jegorovs just weeks into the new season. Despite having the usually impressive Dmitri Zimozdra between the pipes once again Sutton have so far failed to set the League alight, winning just two of their first eight games to leave them languishing just a place off the foot of the table. Their games at iceSheffield have all been tight, hard-fought affairs however, and Billingham will need to avoid putting in the sort of performances that saw them concede 14 goals whilst scoring just two in their games away to the Sting last year.
The Stars bounced back from a dismal run of form to grab a point at second-placed Whitley in last Sundayâ€™s North East derby on Tyneside. A shake-up of lines and tactics appeared to pay off as Billingham stuck to their systems and successfully forced their opponents to play much of the game out wide, thus reducing scoring opportunities. A four-all draw was a fair result for both sides, but a point at Hillheads has been a massive boost for the faltering Stars as they look to put their bad run behind them. The coaching team may have some selection headaches should both Michael Elder and Callum Davies pass late fitness tests, and in a further boost Billingham will welcome back Jack Davies after a month-long lay-off. With the under-20s available, the Stars should travel with a full bench, only long-term injury victim Jamie Pattison certain to miss out.
Billinghamâ€™s Director of Coaching Terry Ward reiterated his sideâ€™s commitment to trying to win every game:
â€œWe donâ€™t ever go into a game and not think we canâ€™t win it. This is an important tie for us and we have to go into it thinking that we can get the points. Sutton destroyed us in two games there last season, but we need to remember that we beat them twice at the Forum. iceSheffield has proved tricky for us in the past but the room we get to play should mean more space for our more skilful players to do some real damage.
Changing the lines around seemed to work quite well for us last week, so I canâ€™t see us just going back to how things were. Itâ€™s important that everyone keeps on their toes and continues to put in full shifts every time they step onto the ice. If the whole squad pulls its weight then thereâ€™s absolutely no reason why we canâ€™t beat anyone in this League.â€
Billingham travel to iceSheffield to take on Sutton Sting in a National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 clash on Sunday afternoon, face off 5.15pm.
Sheffield Senators v Whitley Warriors, 3.45pm Saturday
Telford Tigers NIHL v Sheffield Spartans, 5.30pm Saturday
Sutton Sting v Billingham Stars, 5.15pm Sunday
Blackburn Hawks v Sheffield Senators, 5.45pm Sunday
Solihull Barons v Telford Tigers NIHL, 6pm Sunday
Solway Sharks v Blackburn Hawks, 7pm Saturday