The Nottingham Lions head to the Blue Ice Plaza to face the Solihull Barons in a bid to put the brakes on the Barons' seven game winning streak this Sunday evening (6pm).Two points would be a welcome boost to the Lions’ points tally, which depending on other results in the league, could see them jump to the Laidler D2 sixth spot.
Slawomir Kasprzak lines up a shot in last season's play off final.
This is their first official match-up of the season, with last season's mixed results being firmly logged in Nottingham's memory. The Lions took the first two wins of the regular season encounters, whilst the Barons took the final two. The Play-Off finals weekend was the back drop for the fifth and final encounter of the 2013/14 season, in a passionate and gritty encounter the Barons clinched the play off title with a shoot-out win over Nottingham in a game that no one will forget for some time.
With a rivalry built out of mutual respect, history and geography, this season is sure to spawn feisty clashes beginning this Sunday in Solihull. Back to the present and the Barons are demonstrating amazing form this season, they have won all their games by no less than four goals and have put puck to twine 88 times in just seven games, firmly establishing themselves as league leaders. One disadvantage the Barons hold will be facing the Lions a mere 24 hours after facing the second placed, surging Sheffield Senators. The Lions enter the clash with a week’s rest under their belt and skate coming off the back of their hard fought home win over Widnes Wild last Sunday.
There are not many former Lions amongst the Barons ranks however Thomas Soar does stand out. Soar developed through the Nottingham system from 2005-2011 and broke into the Lions line-up for the first time in 2008 before establishing himself in 2009. The Nottinghamshire native’s final Lions season was his finest accumulating 29 points over 25 games. Soar left the Lions to play in the EPL where he spent time with the Peterborough Phantoms and Telford Tigers before signing for the Barons for the 2014/15 season.
Lions captain Luke Thomas will once again face his former and hometown club.
Lions’ veteran defencemen Luke Thomas and Adam Andrews know the Barons all too well with both blue liners spending several spells each within the West-Midlands set up. Thomas began his senior career there with the Solihull Blaze in 1998, whilst Andrews first iced at the Blue Ice Plaza in 2004. The two former Barons led the team in 2011 when Andrews took up the mantle of captain with Thomas being selected as his alternate.
The Lions had eight points’ scorers on Sunday against the Wild, amongst them youngsters Dan Hazeldine, Hamish Hall and Joe Humphries in a demonstration of team work and dedication. All of the pride’s youngsters will have to play the full 60 minutes to stand a chance on Sunday and with Andrews, Thomas and Staurt Parker potentially icing and providing veteran leadership, there will be no shortage of motivation and encouragement.
Matt Bradbury’s boys enter this game as underdogs, with a shaky start the season, the Lions will be pressing hard to gain their third victory and make a statement to the league about what they are capable of. It won’t be easy by any stretch but a buoyant Nottingham side will be sure to show tenacity and give all they have over 60 minutes, to ensure whatever happens they leave the ice with their heads held high.
The Lions face off at 1800 at the Blue Ice Plaza and details of the tickets and directions to the rink are available by clicking here. If you can’t make it you can follow match night updates by following our official Twitter feed.