Weekend Report: Stars Bounce Back After Mauling
ULTIMATE WINDOWS sponsored Billingham Stars bounced back from a mauling at the hands of National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 leaders Telford Tigers on Saturday to secure their play off place with a win over Nottingham Lions the following evening.
At the Forum on Saturday, Billingham fought well for the opening ten minutes and had their chances to get their noses in front. Chris Sykes saw his first shot come off netminder Denis Bell’s mask within the first half-minute of play, then in the fourth minute Michael Elder took a quick shot from the face off that Bell did well to scoop at his near post. Jack Emerson slid his effort just past the far post in the 12th minute, and then a minute later Tom Keeley tried his luck from the point, Bell just hanging on. Telford had been threatening on the break however, and it was the title chasers who got the breakthrough in the 14th minute, Jason Silverthorn holding off his man well to get his shot away, Dale White on hand to knock in the rebound. Jack Davies found himself warming the penalty bench a minute later for some choice words aimed at referee Alexander Stewart and the Tigers were quick to capitalise, Scott McKenzie finding the roof of the net in the 16th minute. Late chances fell to both sides but the Stars were unable to narrow the gap and the visitors took a two-goal lead into the dressing room.
If Billingham fought hard in the first session, then it all fell apart in the second as the Tigers ran riot. Silverthorn made the most of a dubious tripping call against Deniss Baškatovs in the 22nd minute, finding the bottom corner just 17 seconds into the power play. McKenzie bagged his second power play goal in the 27th minute as referee Stewart despatched Jack Davies on a soft cross checking call. Two minutes later and it was five, Daniel Mitchell into the bottom corner prompting the shell-shocked Stars to call their time out. Whatever was said had little effect as just 38 seconds later Warren Tait fired low past netminder Mark Watson to make it six. Just past the halfway mark the Teessiders replaced Watson with youngster Callum Reynolds, a for a short spell the home side made a fight of it, Sykes hitting the post in the 31st minute then a minute later Baškatovs got one back when he picked up an Emerson rebound and fired into the unguarded net from a tight angle. The purple patch didn’t last however as Rick Plant and Silverthorn combined nicely in the 34th minute for the Canadian top scorer to slot home. A minute later and a terrible period was complete as a poor defensive clearance found Daniel Rose whose point shot got past Reynolds to bring up eight goals for the visitors.
The game gone, the third period was all about damage limitation, but the plan went awry from the start as White fired home through Reynolds’ pads with just two and a half minutes played. The Stars picked themselves up and tried to give some respectability to the score line, Matthew Campbell sending a wrist shot into Bell’s middle in the 44th minute then Sykes hit the post on the backhand in the 50th minute. A minute later and Telford hit double figures, Rose picking off a rebound from Filip Supa. Billingham eventually got a goal back in some style in the 54th minute as Andy Finn unleashed a rocket of a slap shot that Bell did not see, the goaltender replaced at that point to give back up Ryan Lewis some ice time. The scoring wasn’t quite finished, Rose got his hat trick in the 56th minute, then Artūrs Ozols grabbed another consolation goal two minutes later. The last word went to the visitors however, White with his hat trick marker just 10 seconds after the Ozols goal to make the final score 3-12.
Man-of-the-Match for the Stars was Ross Hanlon.
Billingham Stars TV caught all the post-game reactions:
Deniss Baškatovs 1+1; Andy Finn 1+0; Artūrs Ozols 1+0; James Moss 0+2; Chris Sykes 0+1; Jack Emerson 0+1; Callum Davies 0+1
SOG: Mark Watson 28 (18 / 10); Callum Reynolds 22 (5 / 17)
Daniel Rose 3+0; Dale White 3+0; Jason Silverthorn 2+4; Scott McKenzie 2+2; Warren Tait 1+1; Daniel Mitchell 1+0; Jonathan Weaver 0+3; Rick Plant 0+3; Filip Supa 0+3; Nick Oliver 0+1
SOG: Denis Bell 24 (12 / 3 / 9); Ryan Lewis 4
Needing a response immediately, Billingham travelled to Nottingham on Sunday evening without any of their Under 20 contingent except Ethan Hehir, the 20s with a game in Kingston. Also missing from the previous night’s squad were Andy Finn and Josh Nertney. The home side started the brighter, playing their spoiling game well and coming forward at will in the opening exchanges. Watson made a kick save from Cameron Pywell with a minute played then smothered at the feet of Elliot Perrin two minutes later. In the fifth minute Paul Stanley just failed with a wraparound attempt. The Stars were beginning to find their feet and moved ahead in the ninth minute, Sykes receiving a pass from Campbell in the neutral zone and carrying it forward before finding the top shelf. The goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of the hosts, and it was two just a minute later as Sykes tipped the puck past his marker and fed Elder on the near post for the tap in. Nottingham unravelling, Billingham made it three in the 16th minute as Jack Davies got the final touch on a Hehir effort. The Stars now well on top, netminder Sam Gospel needed to be at his best to keep out Sykes in the 18th minute and then Jack Davies in the final minute of play.
The visitors continued to keep the Lions on the back foot in the middle session, Baškatovs blasting into Gospel’s middle on the spin in the 22nd minute, then Jack Davies sending his backhand effort over the bar a few seconds later. A feisty period saw its first minor skirmish on 27 minutes as Luke Thomas took exception to a Ben Davison trip, both men incurring double minors for fighting. This was followed six minutes later by an incident started by Hanlon throwing his man to the ice by his face cage, Paul Lofthouse taking him to task, then in the resulting melee Sykes engaged Marc Levers. All four men received fighting double minors for their efforts, Hanlon with an additional 2+10 minute penalty for a check to the head. Despite much toil neither side had managed to get past the goaltenders until the 35th minute when Hehir returned to the ice after serving part of Hanlon’s penalty to collect the puck and found James Moss, who in turn set up Michael Bowman – his initial shot saved, Bowman followed up his dropped rebound to slot into the unguarded net. A minute later and the Stars moved out of sight, Emerson poking home after hard work from Baškatovs to set up Moss for the tight angle shot.
Billingham started the final period with a goal seemingly out of nothing, Emerson firing high into the net in the 41st minute when there appeared to be no imminent danger. The game now safe, Billingham were content to play out the remainder of the period by absorbing any pressure and keeping possession as much as possible. Chances limited, Sykes had two bites of the cherry at the near post in the 53rd minute but both straight at Gospel. A flurry of late chances came the way of the Lions as they sought a consolation but it was not to be and Watson earned his second shut-out of the season, 0-6 the final score.
Man-of-the-Match for the Stars was Mark Watson.
SOG: Sam Gospel 51 (15 / 18 / 18)
Jack Emerson 2+0; Chris Sykes 1+1; Michael Bowman 1+1; Michael Elder 1+0; Jack Davies 1+0; James Moss 0+2; Deniss Baškatovs 0+2 Ethan Hehir 0+1
SOG: Mark Watson 31 (10 / 8 / 13)
Speaking after Sunday’s game, Billingham’s Director of Coaching Terry Ward was pleased to see his side react in the right way after being given such a lesson on Saturday:
“Nottingham made us work hard in the first period but once we got the goal the confidence came flooding back and there was only going to be one winner. We know the importance of getting the puck wide when we play the Lions because we know that’s where the space is. You could see the determination to get a result after last night too, we reacted in exactly the right way.”
The Stars entertain title contenders Sheffield Steeldogs at the Forum in National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 next Sunday 18th February, face off 6.30pm.
Solihull Barons 7 Whitley Warriors 3
Billingham Stars 3 Telford Tigers 12
Blackburn Hawks 2 Hull Pirates 6
Sheffield Steeldogs 8 Nottingham Lions 1
Whitley Warriors 3 Solway Sharks 1
The Dragons 4 Hull Pirates 23
Blackburn Hawks 4 Telford Tigers 3 (after overtime and penalty shots)
Solihull Barons 2 Sheffield Steeldogs 3
Nottingham Lions 0 Billingham Stars 6
All images courtesy of Linda Crabtree.