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Stars look to get their mojo back.

Byline: CAROL WHITE

BILLINGHAM Stars need to find their groove again whilst still coping with a lengthy injury list for another busy schedule this weekend.

A chance for immediate revenge comes the Ultimate Windows-sponsored Stars' way this evening when they travel north of the Border to take on Solway Sharks in the National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1. Coming up against the Scots last Sunday at the Forum with just 12 skaters, Billingham eventually ran out of gas and the Sharks took both points home with a 3-5 victory, their first over the Stars this season.

Solway continue to prove somewhat schizophrenic this time out, their win on Teesside preceded by an unexpected 3-6 loss to surprise package Sutton Sting on home ice the previous night, so much will depend upon which Sharks team turn up tonight.

Billingham host a Hull Pirates side thrown into last-minute turmoil in the North Cup at the Forum on Sunday, the muchfancied former English Premier League outfit pitched a curveball on Thursday evening with the decision to ban import netminder Tomas Fucik for ten games.

Disciplinary action was taken against Fucik after his initial unsportsmanlike conduct penalty incurred in last Saturday's 2-1 defeat at Sheffield Steeldogs was upgraded to Abuse of Official after the goaltender lost his temper and threw a net peg.

As Hull's only import this season, it remains to be seen what action the Humberside club take to cover his absence, netminding previously seen as the 'weak link' in an otherwise formidable line-up that now includes former Elite League defenceman Kevin Phillips.

The Stars need to find a way to survive without several key players again this weekend as their long-term injury list stubbornly refuses to reduce.

Only Richie Thornton looks likely to return to the side, with Cal Davies, Jack Davies and Cain Taylor all still undergoing treatment for their various knocks. A bigger bench is expected for both games however, with the coaches adjusting their lines to get around a shortage of centres especially.

Now on a three-game losing streak, Billingham need to rediscover both form and confidence as they contemplate 17 games to play before Christmas.

The Stars' Head Coach Tom Brown wants to see a reaction to last weekend's losses regardless of who ices: "We go with what we've got and we go for the win in both games - that's the message.

"All teams will go through patches where players are injured, we have systems in place and we need to stick to them. We are not in the business of giving points away - we owe Solway after last Sunday and we've proved we can stay with the 'big three',' we need to believe that two wins are absolutely possible."

| Billingham travel to Solway Sharks for a National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 clash in Dumfries tonight, face off 7pm. It's back to the Forum for a North Cup match-up with Hull Pirates tomorrow evening, face off 6.30pm tomorrow evening.

Tickets for tomorrow's encounter can be bought from the box office from 5.30pm priced at PS10.50 adults, PS6.50 concessions, PS32 family [2+2]. Weekend Fixtures: NIHL(N)1: Solihull Barons v Telford Tigers, Saturday 5.15pm; Solway Sharks v Billingham Stars, Saturday 7pm; Sutton Sting v Sheffield Steeldogs, Saturday 7.30pm; Nottingham Lions v Whitley Warriors, Sunday 5.30pm; Telford Tigers v Sutton Sting, Sunday 6pm.

North Cup: Hull Pirates v Blackburn Hawks, Saturday 6pm; Blackburn Hawks v Sheffield Steeldogs, Sunday 5.30pm; Solway Sharks v Murrayfield Racers, Sunday 5.30pm; Billingham Stars v Hull Pirates, Sunday 6.30pm

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Another close battle is expected between the Stars and the Sharks tonight in Dumfries LINDA CRABTREE
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Oct 20, 2018
Words:618
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