Stars Aim To Swat Sting In Final Home Game
ULTIMATE WINDOWS-sponsored Billingham Stars go into their final home game of the regular season in National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 on Sunday evening targeting second place and a revenge mission as they take on Sutton Sting.
Sutton are in a fight to the death with rink-share rivals Sheffield Spartans for the final play-off place, Billingham and Solway Sharks having qualified last weekend. The two teams are locked on 21 points with two games each left to play. Both sides have tough games this weekend â€“ Spartans are at home to League champions Blackburn Hawks on Saturday afternoon before the Sting travel to the Forum on Sunday. Should the teams remain level after this weekend, then a nailbiting end to the season is guaranteed as the two sides face each other at IceSheffield in their final game in two weeksâ€™ time. Sutton will feel confident of their chances on Sunday evening, having thrashed the Stars twice this season on home ice. As usual they will rely on the netminding skills of Russian wall Dmitri Zimozdra to keep them in the game whilst their forward lines, led by Shaun Ashton and James Spurr, will hope to put away some crucial goals at the other end.
Billinghamâ€™s place at the end-of-season play-off showdown was assured last weekend, as was that of Â their semi-final opponents. The Stars will face Solway Sharks in Dumfries next month as neither team can now be caught in their current second and third positions. The Teessiders sit a point behind Solway but have a game in hand over the Scots and are looking to finish the regular season on a high by snatching second place. Billingham have hit form at just the right time and are returning to full strength with Jamie Pattison icing for last Sundayâ€™s 6-2 win over Whitley Warriors. The Stars have no fresh injury concerns ahead of Sunday’s game, and will give a late fitness test to Garry Dowd. Andy Finn should also be available after missing last weekendâ€™s derby victory.
Billinghamâ€™s General Manager Allen Flavell believes that his side â€˜oweâ€™ Sutton for two humiliating defeats earlier in the season:
â€œWe wonâ€™t be doing the Sting any favours thatâ€™s for sure. We want second place and we wonâ€™t let up now weâ€™ve qualified for the play-offs. We need to keep up the momentum and keep playing the way we have been these last few weeks. If Sutton want the points then they are going to have to be on top of their game to get past us.
We are looking for revenge after the Sting put us to the sword at their place. We know they are a good side but we donâ€™t feel we were at anywhere near our best when we faced them at IceSheffeld â€“ itâ€™s time to put the record straight, get the two points and try to end the regular season as runners-up to Blackburn, who are worthy champions.â€
Billingham take on Sutton Sting in their final home National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 clash of the season at the Forum on Sunday evening, face off 6.30pm. Tickets can be bought from the box office from 5.30pm on game night priced at Â£8.00 adults, Â£5.50 concessions, Â£25 family [2+2].
Fixtures this weekend:
National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1
Sheffield Spartans v Blackburn Hawks, 4.30pm Saturday
Manchester Minotaurs v Whitley Warriors, 5pm Saturday
Whitley Warriors v Solway Sharks, 5pm Sunday
Blackburn Hawks v Manchester Minotaurs, 5.45pm Sunday
Billingham Stars v Sutton Sting, 6.30pm Sunday
Photos courtesy of Dean Reeve Photography.