Match Report 27th October 2019
Ultimate Windows sponsored Billingham Stars eased to a comfortable National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 win on the road at Nottingham Lions on Sunday night, a result that moves them up to fourth spot in the League table.
The Stars arrived at the National Ice Centre missing Andy Finn and Ben Davison from the back line, with Mark Turnbull replacing the absent Mark Watson between the pipes. Nottingham came into the game having not won a League game for over a year, and a current record of lost five, conceded 47. In search of their second League victory, Billingham went on the attack from the first drop of the puck, James Moss hitting his effort straight at netminder Thomas Hovell within the first 80 seconds of the game. Although largely one-way traffic, the Lions did have what would have been a shock opening goal washed out on 3.02 as Turnbull was knocked into the net illegally along with the puck. The visitors eventually opened the scoring on 4.57, Dylan Hehir with an initial air shot that he was able to retrieve and feed Craig Thurston who finished into the bottom corner. Still the Stars kept up the pressure, Hovell flashing the glove to deny Thurston his second in the eighth minute. Hovell was again in the thick of the action on 8.36 as he made an initial save from Tomáš Rubeš incoming from behind the net, but unfortunately for him the puck came back out to Rubeš and he lifted it over the prone netminder for 0-2. The Lions pinned in their own zone, it was no surprise when Thurston added his second and his side's third on 14.52 when he collected a loose puck and looped it into the top corner over the despairing glove of Hovell. Thurston had a chance of a first period hat trick with a short-handed breakaway in the 17th minute but once again Hovell was on hand to make the impressive glove save.
The second session started with Hovell pulling off the seemingly impossible to keep out Moss, Nottingham buoyed by his heroics and starting to apply some pressure of their own. Billingham tried to reassert their authority, Michael Elder with time and space in the 25th minute to find a gap past Hovell but his effort was straight at the keeper. The Stars fared better not long after as Thurston's point shot was tipped in by Darren Stattersfield on 25.40. Two quick goals from Rubeš and Callum Davies in the 28th minute took the game away from the home side, but to their credit the heads stayed up and they were rewarded on 28.03 when Thomas Palmer netted with the Billingham defence in disarray. Joshua Crane had replaced Hovell after the Stars' sixth and he had to be alive to a Scott Cooper point shot in the 30th minute. Thomas Brown now on for Turnbull in the Stars net, Nottingham capitalised on another calamity in their guests' defence on 30.54 when Jack Crowston was left free to pot home on the back stick, but the last word on the session went to Billingham as they swarmed around the Lions net on 37.45, the puck coming out to Michael Bowman who skated in and picked his spot.
Billingham looked to take the game further away from their hosts early on in the third and got their eighth on 41.13 when Stattersfield found Moss for a crisp finish. The game turned scrappy as both sides tired, a lot of effort used for very little end product. In the final ten minutes the Stars picked up the tempo once more as Lewis Crisp, Jack Emerson and Dylan Hehir all went close. Thurston tried hard to secure his hat trick but Crane smothered his best chance in the 56th minute. The Stars wrapped up the scoring on 56.10 when Emerson picked out Chris Sykes for the Teessiders' ninth and complete a comfortable 2-9 win over the League's basement side.
Man-of-the-Match for the Stars was Craig Thurston.
Jack Crowston 1+0; Thomas Palmer 1+0; Jamie Hovell 0+1; Harry Hopkins 0+1; Bailey Challans 0+1
SOG: Thomas Hovell 30 (19 / 11); Joshua Crane 27 (10 / 17)
Tomáš Rubeš 2+2; Craig Thurston 2+1; James Moss 1+1; Darren Stattersfield 1+1; Chris Sykes 1+0; Michael Bowman 1+0; Callum Davies 1+0; Dylan Hehir 0+2; Daniel Silar 0+2; Jack Emerson 0+1; Scott Cooper 0+1; Michael Elder 0+1
SOG: Mark Turnbull 9 (6 / 3); Thomas Brown 9 (2 / 7)
Coach Stephen Foster had nothing but praise for his opponents:
“We got the job done, which was the most important thing. It’s good to see the youngsters getting so much ice time for the Lions and in years to come they’ll see the benefit. Tonight we just stuck with what we’ve been doing, Lewis Crisp moved up onto the third line and Michael Bowman moved back into defence to make sure everyone saw ice.”
Catch the full interview, plus Man-of-the-Match Craig Thurston on BBC Tees Sport Extra from 7pm, Tuesday 29th October.
Billingham return to the Forum next Sunday 3rd November when local rivals Whitley Warriors are the visitors for a North Cup clash, face off 6.30pm.
Solway Sharks 8 Sutton Sting 2
Nottingham Lions 2 Billingham Stars 9
Whitley Warriors 3 Solway Sharks 4 (after overtime and penalty shots)
Image credit: Linda Crabtree