The Laidler Conference regular season comes to a close for the Solutions For Accounting Nottingham Lions tonight as they meet the 2016/17 Conference champions the Blackburn Eagles. During the pre season build up it was quite plain to see that Scott Barnett was quietly pulling together a well seasoned group of players in order to improve on their showing last season.
Finishing in the fourth place play off spot last season they met the then Conference champions the Deeside Dragons and met with the same fate as the third place play off team the Lions who met and lost out to the Widnes Wild.
Not that many seasons ago the Blackburn team were one of the whipping boys of the conference but they have gradually learned and developed having seen what was required to become a major force in the NIHL second tier and have worked hard to achieve their present status.
Virtually from day one the Eagles stamped their authority on the Laidler Conference with a run of eleven games unbeaten. In that run of results the Eagles took out the pre season favourites the Widnes Wild who had put together a massively experienced team having picked up a number of seasoned players from the Sheffield Spartans. During that run they also dealt the Lions a blow as they came to Nottingham and went home with the points.
The Lions did redeem themselves later in the season as they travelled to Blackburn on two occasions and left with a point from each tied game.
That early season run came to an end as the Eagles lost two games but then hit back going the rest of their season, to date, without losing another game.
The record shows that the Lions have not achieved maximum points against the Eagles, yet, so they will be looking for that position to change as they meet for this last time this season and before the Eagles deservedly move up to the Moralee Conference for the 2017/18 season.
Last Saturday the Lions travelled to Bradford to meet the Bulldogs and after a very closely fought game the Bulldogs finally conceded the points but all agree it was a touch and go game that ended 5-6.
Star of the show for the Lions was Ondrej Pniok who earned his mom with a magnificent 4+1. Other scorers Jamie Hovell 1+0, Joseph Gretton 1+0, Luke Thomas 0+2, Adam Andrews 0+1, Joseph Hazeldine 0+1, Cameron Pywell 0+1, and Benjamin Wilson 0+1.
Face Off tonight vs Blackburn at the National Ice Centre 7.30pm