Ultimate Windows sponsored Billingham Stars

Ultimate Windows sponsored Billingham Stars finally got some of the luck that has eluded them all season in National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 when they recorded a 4-1 win over Solihull Barons at the Forum on Saturday.

Both sides not in good recent form and precious playoff points up for grabs, the opening twenty was cagey and tense with few clear-cut scoring opportunities. Jack Emerson’s first shift almost yielded a couple of goals when he tried to force the puck home at the near post, then 30 seconds later he hit the opposite one as it seemed the Stars would encounter the same difficulties finding the back of the net. It was Kristers Bormanis with two chances either side of the seventh minute, but the Latvian forward was denied twice by Barons netminder Sam Hewitt. Solihull squandered a chance of their own in the 15th minute, Billingham goaltender James Flavell getting down well to stop a Paul Stanley backhand effort. The deadlock was finally broken on 18.10: Hewitt lost his stick making a slash that went unpunished but left him exposed, Cain Taylor came up with the initial shot that Hewitt could not smother and Craig Thurston was on hand to roof the puck, the home side with a slender advantage going into the break.

The second session was much more open as both sides pushed forward. The Stars looked the more threatening, and they moved further ahead on 26.11 when Bormanis sniped a shot from the left looking for the top corner but it hit Hewitt’s shoulder on the way and looped up over the keeper to drop over the line. The visitors fought back, and the ever-dangerous Niklas Ottosson went close in the 30th minute before being given a power play opportunity a minute later as Ben Davison sat out an interference call. The Barons took full advantage just 16 seconds into the penalty as the Billingham box failed to spot Adam Brittle lurking with intent, the former Blackburn marksman finding the far corner to narrow the gap. It took the hosts less than two minutes to restore the two-goal advantage, Chris Sykes drifting past the Solihull defence and picking out Bormanis for the one-timer on 33.34. Stars newest recruit capped a fine individual performance with his hat trick goal in the final minute, the angle looked impossible but Bormanis managed to squeeze his shot past Hewitt stood just level with the goal. Solihull had a late flurry of chances as the clock counted towards the buzzer but Flavell stood firm to keep the score at 4-1.

The lead established, Billingham looked to shut up shop in the third and were content to absorb the pressure that inevitably came from their guests. Flavell was on hand to stop the shots that got through, a Marcus Maynard wrist shot from the point covered at the far post in the 46th minute. The Stars were not without their own chances, Thurston perhaps should have doubled his personal tally a minute later when he was released by Matthew Campbell, but he squared the puck to the onrushing Bormanis and Hewitt got across well for the pad stop. Flavell twice kept out Luke Brittle with the glove as time got away from Solihull and they were unable to make a dent in the Billingham lead, 4-1 the final score and two vital points in the Stars fight for a playoff berth.

Man-of-the-Match for Billingham was Kristers Bormanis.

Stars Stats:

Kristers Bormanis 3+0; Craig Thurston 1+0; Chris Sykes 0+2; Cain Taylor 0+2; James Moss 0+1; Andy Finn 0+1; James Hellens 0+1

SOG: James Flavell 31 (5 / 14 / 12)

Barons Stats:

Adam Brittle 1+0; Elliot Perrin 0+1; Niklas Ottosson 0+1

SOG: Sam Hewitt 27 (12 / 9 / 6)

Billingham Stars TV spoke to some of the main players post-game:

It’s a double game weekend in National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 next up for Stars with a home clash against Telford Tigers on Saturday 9th February (face off 6pm) followed by a trip to Sheffield Steeldogs on Sunday 10th February (face off 5.30pm).

 

Weekend Results:

NIHL(N)1:

Billingham Stars 4 Solihull Barons 1

Whitley Warriors 12 Sutton Sting 6

Solihull Barons 8 Nottingham Lions 2

 

Images courtesy of Colin Edwards Photography