Match Report 9th December 2018
Ultimate Windows sponsored Billingham Stars were once again undone by one period of mistakes and lack of application as they crashed to their second heavy National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 defeat to Telford Tigers in as many weeks at the Forum on Sunday evening.
Missing key players all over the ice but specifically at the back, the Stars handed a full senior debut to 16-year-old Dylan Hehir to take their under-18 contingent to five. Their opponents started with two-way signing Sam Gospel between the pipes, missing just Joe Hazeldine and Brodie Jesson from the line-up. In an end-to-end start, Billingham netminder James Flavell was called into action in the fourth minute to catch a laser heading for the top corner, then seconds later Ethan Hehir broke clear but put his shot straight at Gospel. A contentious misconduct call against Edgar Protčenko put the hosts on the back foot and Telford dominated on the power play, keeping possession of the puck almost completely until 90 seconds into the penalty when Chris Sykes stole away and tapped across to the lurking Kevin Boyd who almost squeezed his backhand effort past Gospel at the far post. Play switched back to the other end and the Tigers made the breakthrough their possession play deserved, Jonathan Weaver letting fly with a bullet high past Flavell to open the scoring on 6.53. Back at full strength, the Stars began to press forward, Sykes sending one just past the post in the 11th minute. Flavell made a goal line stop to keep Telford out a minute later, then Craig Thurston tested Gospel with a near post effort in the 15th minute. The home side looked like they would hold their guests to a single goal advantage going into the break, but in the final minute a wayward pass from the corner found Scott McKenzie out front, a slide pass from Weaver to Doug Clarkson for the finish past the committed Flavell.
If the first period was closely fought, the second was anything but as Billingham collapsed. The sucker punch of the late goal in the first was compounded by a first-minute goal in the middle session, Adam Taylor breaking clear and finishing coolly low down for 0-3. A rare power play opportunity presented itself in the 24th minute as Daniel Rose sat out a delay the game penalty, but the Tigers worked hard to keep the Stars at bay and got a lucky break seconds before the penalty elapsed when Clarkson came from behind the net and found McKenzie through traffic on the back stick to tap home a short-handed effort. A visibly demoralised Billingham outfit found themselves further behind on 30.25 when they lost possession in their own zone, Weaver feeding Jason Silverthorn for the one-timer past Flavell. The goal saw the end of Flavell’s evening, Mark Watson coming on for the remainder of the game. Watson had not had chance to handle the puck when Clarkson made it six on 31.23 with a wrist shot past his glove. The Stars tried to rally, Boyd breaking in the 33rd minute but without the finish, then Josh Reynolds forced Gospel to stack the pads to deny his one-time effort in the 36th minute. Telford were having things all their own way however, including the luck as a fortunate bounce set Silverthorn away for his second on 38.25. Just 25 seconds later the Tigers made a miserable twenty minutes complete for the hosts as a backhand from Clarkson found Taylor unmarked at the near post for the simplest of tap-ins.
Thomas Hovell replaced Gospel at the start of the final period, the game won and the home side with little more than pride to play for. They finally broke their duck on 46.35 as captain Michael Elder fired home from the blue line just six seconds into their second power play chance of the evening. In a more evenly matched period, both sides had further chances before Clarkson bagged his hat trick on 53.03, beating a screened Watson stick-side to earn his team’s Man-of-the-Match award. Hovell kicked away a Thurston effort as the game ticked away. In the last minute Shaun Galloway had a gilt-edged opportunity to score his first senior goal but he got the puck caught in his skates with the goal at his mercy. Telford were able to regain possession and took the puck up the ice, Jed Moreland finishing the move to make it 1-10 and a crushing defeat for the home side.
Man-of-the-Match for Billingham was Dylan Hehir.
Michael Elder 1+0; James Moss 0+1; Chris Sykes 0+1
SOG: James Flavell 20 (13 / 7) Mark Watson 18 (8 / 10)
Doug Clarkson 3+3; Adam Taylor 2+1; Jason Silverthorn 2+0; Scott McKenzie 1+4; Jonathan Weaver 1+3; Jed Moreland 1+0; Richard Plant 0+2; Daniel Rose 0+1
SOG: Sam Gospel 20 (11 / 9); Thomas Hovell 10
Billingham Stars TV was on hand with the camera after the game:
Billingham will travel to Edinburgh to complete their North Cup fixtures with a game against Murrayfield Racers on Sunday 16th December, face off 6pm.
Hull Pirates 7 Whitley Warriors 2 Saturday 6pm
Telford Tigers 12 Blackburn Hawks 1
Solway Sharks 5 Solihull Barons 3
Whitley Warriors 3 Hull Pirates 5
Blackburn Hawks 8 Nottingham Lions 3
Sheffield Steeldogs 5 Solway Sharks 1
Billingham Stars 1 Telford Tigers 10
All images courtesy of Tony Burgum Photography