The Nottingham Lions could be crowned NIHL Division Two North champions this weekend if they can gain maximum points from games against the division’s bottom two teams.
The Lions head to the Lancashire coast on Saturday evening to face the Fylde Flyers (5pm) before returning home to host Blackburn Eagles at the National Ice Centre on Sunday (7.15pm) in their first and only two-game weekend of the season.
Nottingham currently sit firmly in the driving seat at the top of the table, knowing just four more points from their remaining five fixtures will secure them promotion back to Division One North.
However, the Lions are aware that victories are far from a foregone conclusion against any team in their division and they will be have to be in good form to take anything away from Fylde’s intimidating and compact rink.
Nottingham have notched up two wins from two over the Flyers so far this season. In their first game of the season at the Sub Zero Ice Rink back in September, the Lions took away a 7-4 win. An Ollie Betteridge hat-trick helped them overcome a 2-0 first period deficit.
December saw the Flyers on the end of a 12-0 thrashing from Nottingham at the NIC, thanks to a four goal haul from Joe Wightman and two strikes apiece from Mikey Rose and Luke Branin.
On Sunday, a hapless Blackburn Eagles side are the visitors to the NIC, still searching for their first points of the season.
Nottingham came away from Blackburn Ice Arena with a 7-0 win back in September with Gareth O’Flaherty, Ben Wood and Mikey Rose among the goalscorers. November saw the Eagles on the end of a 13-0 hammering by the Lions at the National Ice Centre, thanks to braces from Joe Wightman, Christy Johnson-Brown and Ollie Betteridge.
Last weekend saw Nottingham hit double figures again as they ran out 13-2 victors on their return to Blackburn. Dan Hazeldine, Mikey Rose, Joe Wightman, Luke Branin and Gareth O’Flaherty all grabbing two goals each.
On paper, this Eagles side would seem like easy pickings for Matt Bradbury’s men but Blackburn represent tough, physical opposition and they will be relishing the chance to become party poopers should the Lions be able pick up two points in Fylde on Saturday.
Nottingham are hoping for the return of Christy Johnson-Brown and Jose Leon who missed last Saturday’s win through injury/illness, whilst netminder Alan Levers also returns and is available for selection.
If you are unable to make the trip up north to cheer on the boys this Saturday – don’t forget you can follow all the action as it happens by following the Lions’ official Twitter feed.
Ticket details for Sunday’s potential promotion party against the Eagles are available by clicking here. Entry for adults is just £5, whilst special discounts are available for children, OAPs, students and Panthers season ticket holders.
So get yourselves down to the NIC to help roar on the Lions to victory in what could be a night to remember and a very special evening in Nottingham’s hockey history!