Last weekend we travelled to Solihull for the first of our two pre-season games. The game was a good opportunity for us to have a look at one of the new teams in the league for the 2015/16 season and also to have a look at some of the u20’s and u18’s which will be available to play up this season.
We faced a full strength Solihull, bar one forward in front of a decent crowd at the blue ice arena for our first foray back on to the ice after the close season. We spread our younger players over all 3 lines with the intention of everyone seeing as much ice as possible and entered into what was a close fought game against capable opponents.
Despite the 5-3 score in favour of the Barons the lads had a good first skate and our younger players performed well, especially with no one being on a settled line. The fixture gave all the lads valuable game time, which is hard to replicate on training where the game intensity is not quite there.
This weekend we travel to Billingham to face the Stars who are now without Thomas Stuart-Dant following his move to Cardiff in the southern league. Despite losing Dant the Stars will offer a stern pre season test. They have replaced Dant with Sweedish forward Dennis Boström, who has further strengthened the squad that made the playoff final last season.
We will be fielding more senior players than against Solihull as the lads return from their holidays. One addition we’re all keen to see take to the ice in a Spartans shirt is Martin Finkes, and I’m sure he’ll quickly fit in to the team, and a trip to Billingham will be good acclimatisation to the league and give him an idea of the level of opposition we’ll be looking to beat this season if we’re to secure back to back play-off appearances.
Making the play-offs back to back will be a tough ask this season as the vast majority of teams have strengthened over the close season, with most retaining their squads and bringing in extra players. We’ve lost a few players who have either moved on to a higher level or been unable to commit due to work and family commitments. Despite losing senior players we’ve retained a large portion of our squad and with the addition of Martin Finkes and some younger players such as Tom Barry and Cole Shudra we’ll be looking to make our mark in the opening fixtures vs our sister team the Senators and get some early points on the board in what will no doubt we a difficult and closely fought league campaign. If we can add one or two more players to the team before the opening league games we’ll be well placed to compete with last seasons top three.
Our first league fixture is ‘away’ at ice Sheffield vs the Senators on Saturday 12th Sept, followed by the reverse fixture on Sunday 13th. Make it a hockey filled weekend and catch both games in the opening round of games between the Spartans and the Sens.