Billingham Stars take on Solway Sharks and Blackburn Hawks

:'Billingham Stars' Michael Elder (#32) watches for the puck against Blackburn Hawks at the Billingham Forum two weeks' ago. 'Image credit: Andy Baxter
:'Billingham Stars' Michael Elder (#32) watches for the puck against Blackburn Hawks at the Billingham Forum two weeks' ago. 'Image credit: Andy Baxter

Billingham Stars return with another league and cup double-header this weekend as they look to continue their recent good form.

After a weekend off, Billingham travel north of the border to take on Solway Sharks in the KD Flavell & Sons-sponsored Northern Cup in Dumfries today.

Then The Stars return to their home ice tomorrow evening for a National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Conference clash with current play-off champions Blackburn Hawks.

The two sides have faced each other twice already this season, with honours even thus far.

In the very first game of this league campaign, the Sharks bit and took both points in a nailbiting 3-2 tie on their home ice.

However, the Stars got revenge earlier this month when they dominated the current title holders to take the game 6-3 in an action-packed encounter at the Forum.

Billingham will make the journey north missing their junior contingent as the under 18 side have a game at Telford, but Director of Coaching Terry Ward anticipates no other selection worries.

Only long-term injury victim Anthony Price remains unavailable after Martyn Davies returned to the squad, plus a possible season debut for Dave Thomas who also resumed training this week.

Billingham comfortably saw off the Lancashire outfit in a Cup fixture two weeks ago with a 4-1 victory.

Stars juniors will be available for this fixture so a full bench is anticipated.

Blackburn should travel at almost full strength, however captain Chris Arnone will be missing after picking up a two-match ban from the English Ice Hockey Association for comments made on Twitter regarding an official at the Hawks game against Solway last weekend.

Speaking ahead of the weekend’s fixtures, Ward was confident that the weekend break will not have unduly affected his Stars side.

He said: “The lads are up for the weekend – they’ve had a chance to recuperate with a weekend off, the bruises and knocks have gone down.

“We’re looking forward to two really big games – Solway will be looking for revenge as we beat them here in the league, and so will Blackburn because we beat them last time out too.

“We have to be on top of our game, the boys all know that. Unfortunately we’ll be a bit short for the trip to Solway as the juniors have a game so we’ll be missing three or four of the guys.

“I spoke with the Solway coach after our last game and he was disappointed with the way they reacted, especially when we scored goals and they got penalties straight afterwards. “I think he will have corrected that straight away.

“I think we saw the true Blackburn in the Cup last time out, we have to take a lot of credit for the way we outworked and outsmarted them – we played really well. We have to do it all over again – you can’t afford to take a night off against anybody in this league.

“Blackburn have got a good side so we know we have to be on top form to take the points away from them.”

Face off for tomorrow evening’s game is 7pm. Tickets are priced at £7.50 adults, £5 concessions, £22 family [2+2].