Stars look to maintain form !!!!
The Ultimate Windows Billingham Stars have a two game weekend starting on Saturday evening with an NIHL 1 league fixture at Manchester, then home to Sutton Sting on Sunday night in the KD Flavell Welding Cup.
In the NIHL 1 Moralee conference second placed Billingham are still fending off third placed Blackburn Hawks and fourth placed Sutton Sting, but both the Hawks and the Sting have two games in hand to the Stars making Saturdays Manchester result a must win game.
The Stars will hope to maintain their winning ways with the on-going injury battle still causing coaching team Terry Ward and Michael Bowman a headache. Michael Elder`s ligament injury remains stubborn and fans favourite Andy Finn has spent a week in hospital following complications to an injury picked up in Sheffield. Blue liner Ben Davison makes a welcome return to the Stars line up, however Jack Davies and Jamie Pattison are doubtful for the trip to Manchester. It was confirmed this week that Stars youngster Luke Brown remains available for the senior team following a six game ban picked up in a very heated U18s game at Sheffield two weeks ago.
The visitors to Billingham Forum on Sunday night (18:30 face off) are Sutton Sting who like the Stars will have an eye on boosting their Cup table position. On paper the tie couldnâ€™t be any closer both Billingham and Sutton have played 4, won 2, lost 2 with 4 points each, although this is a cup game both sides will be looking to test each otherâ€™s metal with an eye on the run in to the league play offs.
The big NIHL 1 game of the weekend faces off in Dumfries on Saturday night when top of the table Solway Sharks host an on fire Blackburn Hawks. Other teams will look on with interest as a much improved Hawks face their biggest test. Hawks are aiming to extend their current winning streak into double figures, but Blackburn have failed to take any league points of Solway to date this season losing 2 -1 in Lancashire and 6 â€“ 4 in Scotland making this clash a potential sizzler.
Stars Manager Allen Flavell knows the Stars must make it three wins in a run to keep the chasing pack at bay;
â€œA win on Saturday night at Manchester is vital to keep our push for a top four play-off spot going. Manchester are tough work on their own ice. We have had two comfortable wins over the Minotaurs Â at Billingham, but in Manchester we were 3 -1 up and we should have been in control, The Minotaurs hit two very quick goals in the second and we were back all square, fortunately Stephen Wallace hit the game winner. A win would mean a 100% winning record against Manchester this season, but more importantly with the chasing pack having games in hand, itâ€™s vital to bag the points and keep our bid for a play-off slot on trackâ€.
The Stars manager is delighted that the Cup competition is still wide open at this point of the season;
â€œItâ€™s exciting that the KD Flavell Welding Cup competition is still wide open, we are in third place and Sundays visitors Sutton in fourth, however both us and Sutton have games in hand to Solway and Blackburn, so it is all still to play for. An agreement was reached this week that the Cup final will be played between the top 2 teams in a home and away format and the games have been scheduled to be played on 5th and 6th April 2014, we are also be exploring the prospect of extending an invitation to four of the southern clubs next seasonâ€.
Tickets for tomorrow nightâ€™s game against Sutton go on sale at the Billingham Forum Ice Arena box office from 17:45 priced Adults Â£7.50, Concessions Â£5, Family Â£22 (2+2).