DEESIDE DRAGONS should ‘play with freedom’ and ‘express themselves’ in the remainder of the season, says player-coach Marc Lovell.

A morale-boosting 8-4 victory at Laidler Conference rivals Telford Tigers last time out provided a timely boost for the Flintshire club, whose play-off dreams have effectively disappeared.

Sunday’s home clash with basement side Blackburn Hawks presents another chance for the sixth-placed Dragons to boost their points tally and Lovell has called for a ruthless display.

“The Telford result should give the players a lot of confidence for the five games we’ve got left this season,” he said.

“We all realise that the play-offs are probably out of our reach now.

“That’s disappointing, but it also means that the pressure is off now and that we can play with a bit more freedom than we have at times this season.

“That’ll be the message to the players now: ‘Go out there, enjoy your hockey and express yourselves’.

“Just because we can’t break into that top four doesn’t mean the season’s over. We’re looking to win every game between now and the end of the season and finish on a high if we can.”

All three of the Dragons’ highest scoring victories this season have come against the Hawks.

The Lancashire club have been the division’s whipping boys this term, losing 10-1, 9-0 and 11-0 in their respective clashes with Deeside.

However, Lovell says his side cannot afford to be complacent, with Blackburn strengthening their side of late.

“They’ve had players guesting for them in some of their recent games,” he added.

“That’s had an effect, particularly when they only lost by four against a strong Altrincham side. But whoever they draft in, we have to be confident.

“It’s a game we should be winning, especially with us being at home, and I’m sure that everyone who played last week will be desperate to be involved again on Sunday.

“We’re looking to build a strong winning streak, which is something we’ve only really done once this season.

“Hopefully we can start to build another one this weekend.”

Mike Jones misses the game after collecting a one-match penalty for fighting at Telford, though Gavin Austin could return to the side.

Tomorrow’s league action sees Bradford Bulldogs host Widnes Wild. Leaders Hull Jets go to Telford on Sunday while Altrincham host Senators.