WHITLEY WARRIORS are gearing up for a busy weekend of ice hockey as they face Blackburn Hawks twice in the English National League play off semi-final.
The Warriors play the Hawks in the north west tonight, before returning to the north east tomorrow to complete the second leg at Hillheads.
The team go into the game in less than ideal circumstances with illness and injury, but coach Garry Dowd still believes his team can win.
“We have a very depleted squad at the moment. There is a sickness bug in the team and a few of the players have picked up the virus I had last week.
“We are playing it by ear, the illness can effect people for just 24 hours, or in my case four days!”
This isn’t the best preparation going into the play-offs as Whitley are unsure who can play in the important fixture.
“We need to work out who’s available and what team we can play,” said Dowd.
Despite this, Dowd is upbeat about the fixture and believes this type of encounter will suit the Whitley Warriors.
“We can win. We have a good chance even with a depleted squad. It will be tough and that is our style of play.”
When asked about the threat their opponents might pose, Dowd said: “Blackburn have a very good squad – they have been on fire since Christmas but they never seem to fulfil their potential. We’re above them in the table so we will let them worry about us.”
Two games in as many days will be a test for the players and Dowd revealed the squad have upped their training in preparation.
“We have gone the extra mile, we have been holding extra sessions and have been trying to rotate our squad recently. We have been spreading the work around.”
The teams have played each other six times this season and have won three games apiece.
Face-off for the first game is at 5.45pm tonight while the return fixture is scheduled for 5pm at Hillheads.