In the build up to this Sunday’s top of the table clash with Deeside Dragons, James Morton caught up with the Lions’ top points-scorer – Joe Wightman. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: How was it scoring a hat trick in the first period last time out against Solihull? And how much did it mean to you, being in such an important match?
A: I was very pleased with how the Solihull game went. We knew it was a big game for us, so to score the hat in the first period and put us on the front foot made my week. The first goal went in on my first shot of the game and that gave me so much confidence that the other two felt like it was all out of a textbook.
Q: With you already scoring over twenty goals this season, and nearing forty assists, surely this season has gone better than expected for you?
A: After last year, just finishing outside the top point scorers, I had set myself a target of at least 50 points this season. I’m on 38 right now so there’s still some way to go but as long as I keep the belief and confidence in my game then I don’t see it being a problem. Obviously I couldn’t have don’t so well without a cracking group of players to link up with, I’ve been really lucky with the guys on my line.
Q: As the season draws further to the close, is promotion as the forefront of everyone’s mind, or is it still one game at a time mentality?
A: It’s really all about one game at a time, maybe even just one period at a time. I do dare to dream that we will be league champions… but all we need to think about right now is Sunday’s game against Deeside – we really can’t take anything for granted. It’s great we’re sitting on top of the league with three games in hand.
Q: With Ollie Betteridge leaving, your line still continues to cause sides problems, has Parker improved the side, do you think?
A: Betts’ was a great player and a big loss for the team. We needed to replace him and Parker was a great signing by Bradbury, I really enjoy playing with both Stu and Luke (Branin) and right now we’re tearing it up, which I’m sure will continue.
Q: Has the week break come at the right time for you? Or would you have liked to carry on playing games?
A: For me it’s always good to take the weeks rest, possibly not for some of the younger guys though. Consecutive weeks game are good for keeping the boys sharp and focused but we’ve been working so well together in training that I’m positive about this weekends top of the table clash.
Q: With Sam Gospel being unavailable, how easy has Alan Levers settled back into the dressing room?
A: Alan has been a long-standing player for the Lions and we hope that he will always feel comfortable dropping into the setup. I think the way he’s played in recent games proves he has. But that doesn’t take away from how good Sam has been for us he’s one of the best goalies in this league and I hope he recovers from his concussion sharpish.
Q: With the majority of the squad being twenty-one and under, how bright a future do you think this side has?
A: Nottingham have always had a great junior development program and we’ve always heavily relied on the youngsters. In fact, today I was listening to the Winter Olympic qualifiers and it was one of our former players, Robert Lachowicz, who scored the goal of the game against France. It’s players like him and others still in our team that can push us up through the leagues with possibly an eye on the EPL in the future.
You can catch Joe and the boys in action at the National Ice Centre this Sunday (7.15pm face off) Ticket details are available here.