BLACKBURN Hawks kick-off a ‘massive’ spell of their season at home to Solihull Barons on Sunday (5.45pm face-off).

Coach Dan MacKriel is urging his side to push on and show the rest of the league what they are capable off after having a fortnight off ahead of the Blackburn Ice Arena clash with the Barons, who are fourth in the league.


Between now and the New Year the Hawks face the Barons twice, second-placed Whitley Warriors three times and third-placed Telford Tigers once as they seek to maintain their grip on the Moralee Conference, having won all nine matches so far.

“It’s massive,” MacKriel said of the next few weeks. “If you look at who we’re playing, Whitley have started off really well and we’ve got them over Christmas, we’ve got Telford who are up there and Solihull who are doing well.

“We’ve got some big games coming up and we need to be on the ball really, starting from Sunday.

“The lads appreciate the chance to rest their bodies but we’ve got quite a hectic schedule coming up between now and the New Year so hopefully they’ve used their rest time wisely and will come back recharged.”

MacKriel is a former Solihull player and he is expecting a tough test from a side who won promotion last year and have continued that good form in the higher division.

“I used to play for Solihull back in 2003 and I’ve played with a few of the players who are there now,” he said.

“They came up last year from the Laidler Conference and they didn’t lose a game. They were like us, the Invincibles, they walked their league.

“They’re a good outfit, they’ve got some good forwards who can shoot the puck and then defensively they’re very strong as well.

“It will be a battle, it will be tight. Some people are saying they’ve surprised us, but they haven’t surprised me, I know what they’re capable of, but it’s up to us to up our game on Sunday and start pushing on a little bit and show what we’re capable off.”

The Hawks maintained their 100 per cent record with a 4-2 win over Solway Sharks two weeks ago, coming from 2-1 down to secure the victory.

MacKriel was pleased with the character his team showed on the day as they continue to battle against a defensive injury crisis.

“We had a lot of injuries, we’ve got a few players coming back slowly but surely,” he said.

“We’ve played players out of position, we’ve played younger players, we’ve called players up from the Eagles, we’re really using the resources we’ve got.

“Everybody pulled together, the character was there to pull it back, which was pleasing.

“We’re still missing about 50 per cent of our defence.

“I think Sunday will be too soon for Chris Butler, Andy Dunn and Max Drakeley, but fingers crossed Andy will be back the weekend after.

“It will be touch and go for Chris and Max, but slowly but surely they are on the mend.

“It’s always nice to get a bit of a rest and try and get some injured bodies back.

“The other side is you haven’t been playing so you haven’t been keeping your hand in in terms of match fitness.”