Match Report 3rd March 2019
Ultimate Windows sponsored Billingham Stars had their lingering National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 playoff hopes comprehensively killed off on Sunday as they crashed to defeat against Blackburn Hawks with an insipid display in front of the Forum faithful.
Two almost full-sized squads took to the ice with the Hawks looking to make absolutely sure of their playoff berth whilst at the same time condemning their hosts to watching the end-of-season showcase from the sidelines. Blackburn started at a canter and had the Stars on the back foot from early in the game, Craig Lutkevitch opening the scoring on 3.54 with a long range effort that Billingham netminder James Flavell wasn’t set for. A chippy game boiled over just past the 12-minute mark when Hawks’ Lee Pollitt took exception to a Kristers Bormanis slash and departed the game early for dragging Bormanis to the deck from behind and throwing punches at his unwilling opponent prone on the ice. Seconds later Blackburn were further ahead, Robin Kovar slotting home on the breakaway. Tails up, less than a minute after the original incident the Hawks had scored again, Kovar unchallenged finding the gap in Flavell’s pads. It was three goals in 81 seconds on 13.44, Flavell unable to smother at the near post and Jared Dickinson was on hand to stab it home. A two-minute flurry of goals was completed on 14.12 when Dylan Hehir found the top of the net for the Stars’ opener and his first senior goal.
Needing to score early to get back into the game, James Moss slid his effort past the far post in the first minute of the second session. Blackburn continued to have the better of the play however, Petr Valusiak with two gilt-edged chances squandered to put his side further ahead before the halfway mark. The bad feeling between the two sides saw tempers flare again on 32.11 as Chris Sykes took Ross Kennedy to task for trying to pick a fight with Ethan Hehir. The Hawks eventually put the game to bed late in the period, a two-man breakout on the penalty kill finished by Kovar for his hat-trick on 36.22, then just seconds from the buzzer Luke Boothroyd’s blue line slap made it 1-6.
Bormanis’ eventful evening came to a premature end two minutes into the final stanza as he went off injured after an incident in the corner with Dickinson, both men drawing minor penalties. A further call against Sykes a minute later put the home side on the penalty kill and the Hawks capitalised, Kovar in the slot with the one-timer for a personal tally of four goals. 40 seconds later on 44.46 Aaron Davies tucked one in at the near post, then a minute later Blackburn completed another three-goal blast when Jordan Bannon waltzed through to give the score line an embarrassing look. A late consolation on 54.57 gave the home fans a little to cheer about, Ethan Hehir lifting a rebound over Harrison Walker in the Hawks net, but it did nothing to hide what was a poor performance, Blackburn taking the points and the plaudits with a 2-9 drubbing.
Man-of-the-Match for the Stars was Dylan Hehir.
Dylan Hehir 1+0; Ethan Hehir 1+0; Edgar Protčenko 0+1; Josh Reynolds 0+1; Chris Sykes 0+1
SOG: James Flavell 38 (15 / 14 / 9)
Robin Kovar 4+2; Craig Lutkevitch 1+1; Luke Boothroyd 1+1; Aaron Davies 1+0; Jordan Bannon 1+0; Jared Dickinson 1+0; Ross Kennedy 0+3; Petr Valusiak 0+2; James Neil 0+1; Ollie Lomax 0+1; James Royds 0+1
SOG: Harrison Walker 29 (12 / 10 / 7)
Billingham’s General Manager Allen Flavell was unimpressed with his side’s approach:
“We knew the playoffs were a distant dream but we knew we at least had to win this one, unfortunately we had long spells where we just couldn’t do a thing right. It was a free-for-all for them at times. Some of our players have given their all tonight and some just didn’t play as well as they should have done. Blackburn played with more passion, more speed and a more physical game that we couldn’t live with. The younger players have all stepped up again tonight, but we’re missing too many senior players and it shows.”
The Stars spend next weekend on the road in National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1, a trip to Hull Pirates on Saturday 9th March (face off 6pm) followed by the Tyne-Tees derby against Whitley Warriors at Hillheads on Sunday 10th March (face off 5pm).
Blackburn Hawks 4 Nottingham Lions 0
Solway Sharks 19 Sutton Sting 0
Whitley Warriors 2 Sheffield Steeldogs 9
Sutton Sting 4 Solway Sharks 6
Billingham Stars 2 Blackburn Hawks 9
Images courtesy of Linda Crabtree