Campaign starts a-blaze for Whitley Warriors

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WHITLEY Warriors will begin their National Ice Hockey League campaign away to Coventry Blaze on Saturday, September 8.

And they follow that up with a trip to Sheffield Spartans eight days later before clashing with old rivals Solway Sharks in the opening home game of the season 24 hours later on Sunday, September 16.

The final game of the first month sees Altrincham-based Trafford Metros make the trip to the north east on September 23.

And coach Garry Dowd is looking forward to getting his side on the ice.

“There’s always an extra buzz in the locker room once the fixtures come out, and it is an interesting opening four games,” he said.

“We have a pretty good record at both Coventry and Sheffield over the years, but that doesn’t mean either are easy fixtures; both sides finished towards the wrong end of the table last season and will be looking for a good start this time round.

“And we certainly couldn’t have a better opening home fixture than against a Solway side that carried all before them in division two last season.

“But they did come to Hillheads for a Northern Cup game in September last year and we inflicted what would prove to be a rare defeat on the Scottish outfit, so we will be looking for a similar result.”

Although that Solway game is not until the middle of the month, Dowd has confirmed that the Warriors are looking to play a pre-season game at Whitley Bay Ice Rink on Sunday, September 2.

“We have invited a side to Hillheads and are just waiting for confirmation from them that the game will go ahead,” the coach said.

“But I’m pretty certain the match will happen.”

In other fixtures, newly promoted Sutton Sting are scheduled to make their first league visit to Hillheads on November 18, although the two sides – along with Billingham Stars – have been drawn together in the same North Cup group, fixtures for which have yet to be announced.

Off the ice, coach Dowd is continuing with his efforts to add more players to the Warriors’ roster ahead of the forthcoming season.

“I would still like at least a couple more players and am in talks as we speak,” he added.

Meanwhile, the club has confirmed that the Romna Tandoori Restaurant in Whitley Bay has agreed to continue its sponsorship deal with the club into the 2012-13 campaign.

This means the sponsor will once again host the Warriors Tandoori Night at some point in the season.