Stars Tough Weekend Ahead !!
Ultimate Windows Billingham Stars head into a two game weekend with an outing on Saturday to Ice Sheffield (15:45) to take on Sheffield Spartans, and then a home match on Sunday night (18:30) against recently renamed Trafford Metros who are the all new Manchester Minotaurs.
With two single goal defeats and one club record setting win the Stars are sitting in third place and Spartans in fourth with a single win to date.
Spartans coach Martin White looks to have made some good additions in the closed season and is confident that he will be putting out three capable lines;
â€œThe 3rd line forwards led by James Maughan are coming together nicely which is great considering the guys have only been playing with one another for a few weeks following trials. I confident all 3 lines will contribute goals this season and the first line is looking potent and the second is also looking like they will be creating numerous chances which is especially pleasing as this unit hasnâ€™t had quite as much time playing together in the pre-seasonâ€.
James Maughan joined the Spartans from their Hull NIHL Two side; also impressing Coach White in pre-season trials was former Blackburn junior Michael Alexander who last season played for Canadian side Bradford Rattlers in the GMHL.
Combined with potent scorers such as Ollie Barron and Nick Manning this seasons Spartans appear to be an improved prospect.
The Stars return to home ice action on Sunday night as they take on former Trafford Metros now renamed Manchester Minotaurs. The name change was to align the team closer to the Premier league side Manchester Phoenix and hopefully attract new sponsors to the NIHL One side.
Along with the all new Minotaur branding the Manchester side are turning heads with some of their pre-season and opening on ice performances. With the best of some good closed season signings pointing towards Czech import Lukas Zeman.
The Minotaurâ€™s ran out 9 â€“ 8 winners in a feisty encounter at Sutton Sting with both sides imports dominating the scoring. Last weekend at reigning champions Solway Sharks the Minotaurâ€™s were 2 â€“ 0 up before a Solway fight back levelled the score early in the third however a 5 + game on Max Drakeley took its toll on the legs of the Manchester players and allowed the reigning champions to score two quick markers and run out 4-2 winners.
Lukas Zeman looks an early favourite to finish league top scorer, and early indications are that teams are going to have to keep the free scoring Czech on a tight rein. The very capable Max Drakeley has returned to the Manchester side and will be this seasonâ€™s skipper, with the unflappable Paul Maudsley returning to the Manchester pipes.
Stars assistant Coach Michael Bowman knows the Stars have a difficult weekend;
â€œSheffield are always hard on their home ice, they have some very talented experienced players and a good junior development set up, they work hard all game and on their home ice they are a hard side to break down, so itâ€™s going to be a tough gameâ€.
â€œManchester are picking up some really good results, they had a close game at Solway then beat Sutton. Lukas Zeman looks to be one to watch, we are going to need to know where he is all the timeâ€.
Stars hope a late fitness test for Adam Robinson will prove positive but it looks like being a fairly long layoff for Anthony Price who was injured at Whitley last weekend.
Sunday nightâ€™s game faces off at the normal time of 18:30pm Tickets will be available from the Ice Arena box office from 5.45 pm priced Adults Â£7.50, Concessions Â£5.00, Family Â£22 (2+2).