Spartans 2015/2016 campaign kicks off with a double header against SIHA sister club, the newly promoted Senators. It means an intriguing opening weekend for both clubs with home ice holding no advantage for either team. Both teams will be looking to bag the bragging rights in this all Sheffield contest but more importantly they will both see this as an opportunity to make a positive start to the season; a season that will be much tougher than the last one with the addition of Solihull, Telford as well as the Senators.
Most clubs have retained the services of key players and the core of last season’s squads but all have made the odd tweak here & there. Some have been forced, others by choice but on paper every team from last year’s Moralee Conference has been strengthened and with the addition of the promoted teams whom have strong squads too it’s going to be a good hard battle to secure a play-off spot let alone win the league.
With Spartans going into that battle for the first time this season, Coach Martin White took time out to reflect on the road ahead, including this weekend’s double header against Sheffield Senators…
Martin commented:“The 2015/16 season promises to be a long and difficult one for all the teams in the division, and most likely travelled down a winding road full of potholes and obstacles as although the majority of teams have seen comings and goings over the close season all the top teams are stronger than in 2014/15; this will make for a closely contested league. Slip-ups will be costly and consistency key. The opening fixtures of the season Billingham vs. Blackburn (0-4) and Whitley vs. Solway (7-4) have shown that everything changes but some things stay the same.
We’re under no illusions as to the difficultly of repeating last season’s 4th spot in order to make the play-offs, but we’ll be looking to do so nethertheless.
Despite losing JK to Hull Pirates we’re looking stronger in depth at the moment, have signed Martin Finkes our first import to cover the loss of JK which shows just how good a player he was for us – we wish him all the best in the EPL and hope he goes on to bigger and better things in the future. We have secured the core of last season’s squad and also added Maros Stefanco, who’s registration has just gone through in time for the weekends games.
We’ve played two pre-season challenges against Solihull and Billingham, and had a good look at the newly promoted Barons and last season’s bogey team Billingham. Both opponents fielded virtually full strength squads giving us an indication of what we’ll be facing, with ourselves under strength in both fixtures, more so against Solihull than Billingham. Both games gave us the chance to look at some of the 20’s and 18’s players available to play up and we’re including the younger players on our trainings to see which will stay with us over the course of the season”
Opening Fixtures vs. Senators: Our opening two games are against our sister team the Senators, newly promoted from the Laidler division where they finished 3rd to the dominant Solihull and Telford squads. We’ve faced each other once before in a non-competitive game which was the charity fund raising Winter Classic held in December 2014, although I think both squads know to expect a different type of game on both the 12th and 13th of September.
No doubt both teams will be looking to put down an early marker and the get first points of the season on the board, I’m sure both sets of players will be giving it their all.
Although our lines are not yet settled we’ll be finalising our plans on the training session prior to our opening weekend, much will depend on player availability. We’ll also be without the influential Scott Morris who’s on holiday, prompting further tinkering across the main 3 lines. Regardless of the changes required we’ll be ready on the 12th and 13th.Make sure you get down to both games to see how the teams fair in their opening fixtures.
It certainly will be interesting at least to see how both teams are shaping up this weekend in what promise to be passionate games…
Sat 12th Sept: Senators vs Spartans – 3.45pm Face Off
Sun 13th Sept: Spartans vs Senators – 2.15pm Face Off
Both games are of course at Ice Sheffield…we look forward to seeing as many of you as possible for this weekend’s games