Weekend Report 10th-11th November 2018
Ultimate Windows sponsored Billingham Stars had an eventful weekend in National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 as their patchy form continued and they extended their losing run to eleven with defeats to Hull Pirates and Telford Tigers.
Hull arrived on Teesside on Saturday night looking to keep up the pressure on the League leaders, whilst the Stars continued to battle unavailability issues with Edgar Protčenko, Callum Davies, Mark Watson, Andy Finn and Jack Emerson all missing. An action-packed first period ensued, Pirates Player/Coach Jason Hewitt the first to register a shot in anger as his third minute effort came off the bar. Billingham hit penalty trouble - disputed and missed calls would become a running theme throughout the night as referee Steve Brown found himself the centre of attention. With the Stars looking for a high stick infringement that never came, Ethan Hehir was despatched on a delay the game call swiftly followed by James Moss for tripping. Hull took full advantage and opened the scoring on 7.43, Bobby Chamberlain slotting home through James Flavell’s pads. With seconds remaining on Moss’s penalty James Archer made it two to give the visitors the early advantage. More controversy was to follow in the 16th minute as Kevin Boyd broke down the left wing, his charge halted by a linesman who would not move out of Boyd’s way. The Pirates collected the puck and – with Billingham distracted by protests towards the officials – Kevin Phillips roofed past Flavell for 0-3. The Stars incensed, Chris Sykes picked up a ten-minute misconduct call as Hull celebrated. Worse was to follow for the home side – a nasty challenge on the boards behind the net by Chamberlain on Ben Davison prompted a reaction from Flavell. Scuffles broke out and when the dust settled Flavell had been sent off for fighting, leaving Billingham with no choice but to give young netminder Thomas Brown his senior debut between the pipes. Although born in the UK, Brown has not had sufficient junior training in this country so is classed as an import, the ‘one import on the ice at any time’ rule meaning the Stars also lost Boyd for the remainder of the game.
Referee Brown still whistle-happy, Billingham started the second session on the powerplay but fell further behind when an attempted clearance fell to Hewitt on the point who in turn found Lee Bonner on the back stick for the one timer on 24.31. The Stars’ response was swift, former Hull man Cain Taylor potting home a rebound on 25.54, then from the restart Ethan Hehir let fly with a bullet of a shot to reduce the deficit still further. It was back to a one-goal game on 28.51, Michael Bowman getting his first of the season with a shot into the bottom of netminder Ashley Smith’s goal from a face off. Billingham’s tails up, they had more reasons to feel aggrieved just two minutes later when Bonner bagged his second with the Stars looking for an offside call. There was nothing they could do about the visitors’ sixth, Bonner netting a second-period hat trick with a shot over Brown’s shoulder to restore the three-goal advantage going into the final twenty.
Hull rounded off their scoring just 18 seconds into the last period, Hewitt slotting past Brown for an unassailable lead. This did not stop Billingham attempting to reel in their guests, and they almost managed it as they netted twice in the final five minutes. First Bowman got the goal of the game on 55.07 as he fired past Smith from just over the red line into the top corner on a delayed penalty, then a minute later Sykes buried a rebound to make the final few minutes more than slightly nervy for the Humberside outfit. In the end they were able to hold on and skated off with both points from a game with too many talking points to list.
Man-of-the-Match for the Stars was Michael Bowman.
Michael Bowman 2+2 ; Cain Taylor 1+2 ; Ethan Hehir 1+1 ; Chris Sykes 1+0 ; James Moss 0+2; James Hellens 0+1; Michael Elder 0+1
SOG: James Flavell 20; Thomas Brown 34 (7 / 13 / 14)
Lee Bonner 3+1; Jason Hewitt 1+2; Kevin Phillips 1+2; James Archer 1+1; Bobby Chamberlain 1+1; Jonathan Kirk 0+2; Lee Haywood 0+1; Sam Towner 0+1; Harry Harley 0+1
SOG: Ashley Smith 22 (2 / 7 / 13)
In complete contrast, Sunday’s game at Telford had little in the way of action other than plenty of goals for the home side. A hugely depleted Stars squad of just 12 skaters made the journey, Mark Watson and Callum Davies returning but Flavell, Michael Elder, Darren Stattersfield, Josh Reynolds and Shaun Galloway all missing. Watson between the pipes meant that Boyd was able to ice, but against an almost full strength Tigers outfit the game was always likely to be an uphill struggle for the Teessiders. Telford started the game as they meant to go on, putting Billingham on the back foot and peppering Watson with shots. It looked like Adam Taylor had opened the scoring in the eighth minute, but the referee had blown the whistle before the puck entered the net to save the Stars. In the end they held out until 13.51, Taylor the man in the right place to fire home a Doug Clarkson rebound. Watson time and again proved too difficult to beat, but he was left high and dry for the home side’s second as a defensive error let in Dan Mitchell to make it two on the backhand on 17.59.
A nice passing move was finished into the top corner by Andrew McKinney to make it 3-0 on 23.52, but the Stars were not out of the game – largely thanks to Watson – and got themselves on the board nine seconds into a five-on-three powerplay when Sykes slapped home from the blue line on 28.03. Billingham fought hard to stay with their hosts for the remainder of the period and it closed out with Telford just two ahead.
Watson and the Stars defence continued to frustrate the Tigers for the opening ten minutes of the final session, but it all started to fall apart on 49.34 when Clarkson let rip into the top corner. Seconds later Mitchell tapped home from close range, then a rare mistake from Watson let in Clarkson for his second on 52.17. Three minutes later Scott McKenzie found himself free on the back stick for Telford’s seventh, then Brodie Jesson closed the game out in the final two minutes when he stripped the defence of the puck and potted past Watson to give the score line a one-sided look.
Man-of-the-Match for Billingham was Mark Watson.
Doug Clarkson 2+2; Daniel Mitchell 2+0; Andrew McKinney 1+2; Scott McKenzie 1+1; Adam Taylor 1+0; Brodie Jesson 1+0; Jordan Stokes 0+2; Jonathan Weaver 0+1; Henry Adams 0+1; Nick Oliver 0+1
SOG: Thomas Hovell 19 (8 / 6 / 5)
Chris Sykes 1+0; Kevin Boyd 0+1
SOG: Mark Watson 56 (17 / 16 / 23)
Interviews and highlights from Saturday's game will follow shortly via Billingham Stars TV.
The Stars have the luxury of a one-game weekend coming up when they travel to Nottingham Lions for a National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 fixture next Sunday 18th November.
Solihull Barons 2 Sheffield Steeldogs 7
Billingham Stars 5 Hull Pirates 7
Solway Sharks 3 Blackburn Hawks 7
Sutton Sting 2 Telford Tigers 8
Whitley Warriors 6 Nottingham Lions 1
Blackburn Hawks 6 Sutton Sting 1
Telford Tigers 8 Billingham Stars 1
Sheffield Steeldogs 4 Solway Sharks 6
Hull Pirates 11 Murrayfield Racers 0
Images courtesy of Linda Crabtree.