Tonight sees the Deeside Dragons make their first visit of the season to the National Ice Centre in what could turn out to be a crucial game as Deeside look to consolidate their position at the top of the Laidler Conference.
At the start of the season both Deeside Dragons and Widnes Wild were considered the hot favourites for the title with little chance given for any of the remaining teams other than possibly Altrincham Aces who, at the end of last season, suffered relegation and were looking for a speedy return to the Moralee Conference.
As we reach the halfway point in the season we have the Dragons returning to the top of the Laidler Conference a couple of points ahead of the Nottingham Lions and with a game in hand. Widnes Wild are currently in third place and requiring a good run to overhaul the Dragons, but having lost twice already to the Flintshire outfit, this might prove a tall order?
It would be true to say that the support from Red Hockey has helped change the fortunes of a Dragons team who in the recent past whilst showing great promise could not quite make it over the winning line, The Dragons have been revitalised by the added experience of players such as Filip Supa and Adrian Palak two imports who are in the top five scorers and really making an impact in the NIHL. The Brit pack of Furnival, Parsons, Lovell amongst others have racked up a fair number of points also. Accompanying the changes the Dragons brought in Lol Paul as Head Coach who took over from Steve Fellows. Steve Fellows remains with the team assisting Lol Paul whilst also on the playing staff on defence.
At this halfway stage the Dragons have only lost one game and tied one other but it would be very true to say that the loss at home to the Nottingham Lions hurt the Dragons tremendously, and along with elephants I feel sure these dragons have long memories of what Lol Paul stated ‘was a humiliation in front of the home fans’. A repeat is definitely not on their agenda, but hockey is a funny old game at times.
Deeside Dragons come to Nottingham with a formidable well financed team and some really loyal, whilst possibly long suffering, fans looking to secure promotion, at last. The holy grail of fourth tier British ice hockey might be in their grasp, or not, we shall see?
Nottingham Lions enter this game with nothing to lose and everything to gain as this eager young squad use games such as these to aid their development and their experienced senior players supporting their more junior players efforts along that road. The Nottingham Club is about development and moving the game of ice hockey to new heights and a sound future based on home grown talent, and long may that continue.
With no Panthers game this evening with them having been north of the border for the weekend it would be great to see as many Panthers fans to get along to the game to see a battle of the top two in the Laidler Conference get down to the National Ice Centre Olympic Rink at 7.30pm.