Ultimate Windows sponsored Billingham Stars

Ultimate Windows sponsored Billingham Stars looked out of sorts as they failed to secure one of their ‘must win’ National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 fixtures with a 4-7 defeat to Sutton Sting at the Forum on Sunday evening.

Down an import but with players returning, Billingham chose to run a deliberately shorter bench than was available. An end-to-end first twenty ensued, Stars netminder James Flavell the first to see meaningful action with a point-blank stop between the pads in the second minute. Opposite number Warren Gilfoyle made a shoulder save from Chris Sykes a minute later as both sides sought an early opener. Sutton looked dangerous on the counter, with much going through their two imports Stanislav Lascek and Jonas Fredriksson, Lascek forcing a diving save from Flavell in the sixth minute. Billingham were handed a power play when Fredriksson sat for a cross checking minor and they capitalised just 20 seconds into the power play, James Moss finding Sykes free on the back stick to pot into the unguarded net on 8.34. The Sting’s equaliser – just ten seconds into their own power play – had a touch of controversy about it as Sykes had his stick slashed from his hands moments before Craig Elliott found the back of the net to square the game. Craig Thurston hit the bar with less than two minutes to play, but the score remained level going into the break.

The visitors made the perfect start to the middle session as just 22 seconds in Flavell could only parry a Dominic Martin effort, Scott Morris on hand to tap the loose puck home. They stretched their lead on 24.41, Lascek on the wraparound making it look all too easy as the Stars defence went missing. Billingham hit back within 17 seconds however, Michael Bowman taking the puck up the left wing and finding Ethan Hehir on the far post for the one-time shot into the bottom corner. The game was tied up once again on 27.26, Sykes going for the wraparound himself to bag his second of the game. In truth Sutton were starting to gain the upper hand however, and the home side gifted them the lead on the 33-minute mark when they failed to clear their zone and allowed the Sting to keep possession for the set-up, eventually finished into the roof of the net by George Crawshaw. The advantage was back to two on 36.37, Lascek delaying his shot and with Flavell too far out of his net the Slovakian forward lifted the puck over him. With less than a minute to go, the hosts gave themselves a boost going into the dressing rooms when Sykes found captain Michael Elder free out front and he made no mistake to narrow the gap.

An early slashing call against Tom Keeley gave Sutton the chance they needed and they duly reasserted themselves when Ryan Johnson fired high to beat Flavell on 44.18. The luck clearly not with the Teessiders, Moss hit the post in the 47th minute. Flavell was doing his best to keep the Stars within distance, but he could do nothing but watch the Sting’s seventh from the bench as Billingham pulled him off with 75 seconds to go – the move backfired as a Hehir shot just missed the far post and the puck came around the boards to Johnson who fired home from the red line, final score 4-7.

Man-of-the-Match for the Stars was James Moss.

Stars Stats:

Chris Sykes 2+1; Ethan Hehir 1+1; Michael Elder 1+0; James Moss 0+1; Michael Bowman 0+1; Cain Taylor 0+1; Callum Davies 0+1; Tom Keeley 0+1; Craig Thurston 0+1

SOG: James Flavell 36 (12 / 13 / 11)

Sting Stats:

Stanislav Lascek 2+2; Ryan Johnson 2+1; Craig Elliott 1+3; Scott Morris 1+0; George Crawshaw 1+0;  James Goodman 0+2; Peter Toth 0+1; Jonas Fredriksson 0+1; Dominic Martin 0+1

SOG: Warren Gilfoyle 34 (12 / 12 / 10)

Billingham Stars TV was on hand for the post-game reactions:

The Stars travel to Solihull Barons on Saturday 19th January (face off 5.15pm) before welcoming Blackburn Hawks to the Forum next Sunday 20th January (face off 6.30pm).

 

Weekend Results:

NIHL(N)1:

Solihull Barons 3 Hull Pirates 12

Telford Tigers 10 Sutton Sting 2

Sheffield Steeldogs 11 Blackburn Hawks 2

Blackburn Hawks 2 Telford Tigers 6

Hull Pirates 9 Solihull Barons 1

Nottingham Lions 0 Whitley Warriors 4

Sheffield Steeldogs 7 Solway Sharks 2

Billingham Stars 4 Sutton Sting 7

 

Images courtesy of Linda Crabtree