Weekend Report 27th-28th October 2018
Ultimate Windows sponsored Billingham Stars stretched their unenviable losing streak to seven games this weekend with two insipid displays in National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 and the North Cup that left coach Tom Brown fuming.
Stars’ League game against Sutton on Saturday saw the visitors short of key players once again at IceSheffield, and they were on the back foot from the off as Jordan Griffin rifled a wrist shot past James Flavell in the Billingham net from the point with just 1.32 on the clock. The Teessiders welcomed back Cain Taylor to the line-up and he almost grabbed an equaliser in the fourth minute when his speculative shot almost bobbled over the line, but some desperate defending cleared the puck in the nick of time for the home side. Sutton were dominating play however, and they moved further ahead on 9.49 when Scott Morris collected a fortunate bounce off the boards and roofed past Flavell who seemed not quite set for the incoming shot.
Sting got the early drop on the Stars again in the second period, Flavell failing to smother the puck at his near post sufficiently for a Stanislav Lascek effort to creep over the line on 21.51. Billingham showed only brief flashes of their capability, Jack Emerson just scraping the far post on the halfway mark, but in truth they were making life very easy for their hosts who put the game out of sight on 31.06 with a one-timer from Ryan Johnson. This fourth goal saw the end of Flavell’s night, Mark Watson taking over between the pipes. Watson had not had chance to make a save before Sutton notched a fifth, Lascek left free on the back stick to fire over the committed netminder for 5-0 on 32.21.
With nothing to play for except pride, Billingham came out looking a little more purposeful in the final session, Michael Elder seeing one wrist shot caught high before he finally got the visitors on the board on 44.42. The Sting had no need to force the game and the Stars could not find a way through despite showing some increased effort, 5-1 the final score and some scratching of heads in the dressing room.
Man-of-the-Match for Billingham was Michael Elder.
Stanislav Lascek 2+1; Ryan Johnson 1+1; Scott Morris 1+1; Jordan Griffin 1+0; Craig Elliott 0+3; Dominic Martin 0+2; Joe Colton 0+1; Craig Wallis 0+1
SOG: Warren Gilfoyle 18 (4 / 4 / 10)
Michael Elder 1+0; Cain Taylor 0+1
SOG: James Flavell 20 (10 / 10); Mark Watson 11 (7 / 4)
Back at the Forum for a Cup clash with Blackburn Hawks on Sunday evening, Billingham could add Matthew Campbell back to the bench after his suspension for fighting. It was clear from early on that the Stars were not going to be turning in a performance like the previous Sunday’s heroics against Hull Pirates as an error in the neutral zone let in Aaron Davies to fire past Watson’s glove for the visitors’ opener on 2.15. The home side had barely had time to recover when Adam Barnes got off his knees to slot past Watson and double the lead before three minutes had elapsed. An immediate response was required, but Billingham seemed unable to muster the effort needed to break down a Hawks outfit that had come to take the game to their opponents. Eventually they were handed a power play opportunity when Ric Ravey was despatched for high sticks, James Moss making the breakthrough with a shot from the face off that flew straight past Niks Trapans in the Blackburn net. In what was to become a recurring theme, the Hawks came straight back to restore the two-goal advantage, James Royds on the mark with the Stars defence all at sea. Watson was replaced by Flavell in the net, but the attacks kept coming and Danielius Nomanovas bagged a fourth when he finished a clever move unmarked at the back post on 12.22.
Billingham needed something early in the second and they got a goal back on 25.12 when Elder skated from behind the net to roof the puck on the backhand. Again Blackburn responded almost immediately, Kieran Brown given too much space to pick his spot just over a minute later. The Stars demoralised, it was left to Flavell to make the stops that kept the score line respectable going into the final twenty.
There was to be no third period rally this evening, and Brown stretched the lead on 45.37 with a wrist shot from the face off that Flavell did not see through traffic. Kevin Boyd danced his way through the defence and unleashed a shot too hard for Trapans to hang onto to get a goal back on 46.48 but for the third time the Hawks cancelled it out immediately through James Riddoch less than a minute later. Ravey’s night came to a premature end on 50 minutes as he was caught in the face by Ollie Lomax’s stick, a delay in the game as the ice surface was cleared of Ravey’s blood. From the restart Blackburn turned defence into attack, nice interplay between Barnes and Nomanovas releasing Brown for his hat trick marker on 50.24. The score line took on an embarrassing look two minutes later when Davies netted his second and his side’s ninth. It was left to Chris Sykes to slot home a consolation with three minutes remaining, 4-9 a deserved defeat for what was a poor showing in front of the Forum faithful.
Man-of-the-Match for the Stars was Shaun Galloway.
Chris Sykes 1+1; Michael Elder 1+1; Kevin Boyd 1+1; James Moss 1+0; Ben Davison 0+1; Ethan Hehir 0+1
SOG: Mark Watson 6 (3); James Flavell 28 (5 / 11 / 12)
Kieran Brown 3+0; Aaron Davies 2+0; Danielius Nomanovas 1+2; Adam Barnes 1+2; James Riddoch 1+1; James Neil 0+1; Ric Ravey 0+1; Ollie Lomax 0+1; Jack Murray 0+1; Lee Pollitt 0+1
SOG: Niks Trapans 38 (14 / 9 / 15)
Billingham Stars TV caught the very different moods of both camps after the game:
The Stars must dust themselves down in time for a tough double header next weekend. They travel to Sheffield Steeldogs for a National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 game on Saturday 3rd November (face off 7.30pm) before returning to the Forum a North Cup clash with Telford Tigers on Sunday 4th November, face off 6.30pm.
Solway Sharks 3 Whitley Warriors 2 (after overtime)
Sutton Sting 5 Billingham Stars 1
Whitley Warriors 3 Solihull Barons 1
Sheffield Steeldogs 6 Nottingham Lions 2
Blackburn Hawks 1 Hull Pirates 3
Telford Tigers 2 Sheffield Steeldogs 5
Hull Pirates 4 Solway Sharks 0
Murrayfield Racers 1 Telford Tigers 9
Billingham Stars 4 Blackburn Hawks 9
Images: Tony Burgum Photography