Conference leaders and potential conference champions make their final visit of the season to the National ice Centre this Sunday in what hopefully will be a more evenly balanced game than when the Dragons last paid us a visit. Early in the season the Lions took the trip to Deeside and returned with the points with a comprehensive victory only for the Dragons to come to Nottingham to return the favour.
Since that early set back for the Flintshire outfit they have only experienced a couple of near misses when they tied games with Bradford and Blackburn both on the road. Other than the loss to the Lions and a couple points lost with the two tied games the Dragons have proved virtually unbeatable and now have put clear water between themselves and the chasing pack conference points wise.
In their two imports Adrian Palak and Filip Supa the Dragons have found a lethal strike force backed up by some high scoring Brits in Parsons, Furnival, and Lovell. At the back they have two very experienced netminders and potential game winners in George Cox and Matty Compton. All in all the Dragons are a formidable combination of skill and grittiness that just may lead to a championship winning team and promotion.
This may indeed be the Dragons final visit to Nottingham for some while should they achieve both promotion and, most importantly, should they manage to compete and establish themselves at the next level. Not always an easy task as Sheffield Senators found out when promoted last season.
Meanwhile the Nottingham Lions took on the other pre season candidate for a chance of promotion the Widnes Wild last Sunday, a game played on the Arena ice, and for the second time this season the Lions collected both points in a 3-2 thriller. Heading into the final five minutes and with a 3-1 lead the Lions hit double penalty trouble and with a 5 on 3 Scott McKenzie narrowed the gap. This game for the Wild was most disappointing as this certainly dented their narrow hopes of closing the gap on the Deeside Dragons and actually leaves them somewhat vulnerable. The saving grace might be that one of the up and coming teams, and other major competitor the Blackburn Eagles failed to take the points at Bradford Bulldogs in a bit of a shock result.
The Lions enter this game as, along with others in the conference, as the underdogs so have little to lose to the more heavily, Red Hockey funded, Deeside Dragons. The young Lions supported by the older heads in the team are inevitably going to gain as much experience as is humanly possible when playing teams of this calibre therefore a lot to gain and little to lose. I feel sure that the Lions are given only a small chance of taking this one but any chance however small just might be enough, one just never knows?
The Panthers have a home game before the Lions in the Arena so whilst down at the venue why not take the short walk over to the Olympic Rink and support the Lions, genuine hockey supporters are always welcome, face off is at 7.30pm.