Ultimate Windows sponsored Billingham Stars

Ultimate Windows sponsored Billingham Stars head coach Stephen Foster praised his side’s character
as they fought back from 0-3 and 3-5 deficits to tie the Tees-Tyne derby on Sunday night.

Whitley Warriors snatched the extra point in overtime for a thrilling 6-5 win in front of a capacity Forum crowd.

Billingham opened brightly, forcing their rivals into taking three successive penalties. However Warriors’
penalty kill was solid and kept the scoresheet blank.

The visitors opened arguably against the run of play in the tenth minute while they were operating with a
man advantage. Smart passing down low saw Ross Murray set up Phil Edgar and he found the top
corner from close range at 9.21.

The fast and furious pace of a derby game continued before Whitley doubled their lead in the final
minute of the period. Craig Johnson’s shot from the blue line found its way through traffic and into the
net at 19.08 making it 2-0 Warriors at the first break.

Two became three early in the middle frame, Murray and Edgar combining well again for the latter to
rifle home his second of the night at 22.55.

Billingham were not lying down despite the deficit and continued to press, coming up against a resolute
defence and goalie in Richie Lawson. Just past the half hour, though, the defence was breached.

Taking advantage of a powerplay opportunity, Stars quick passing around the zone created the
opportunity for Callum Davies to open the home team’s account, with assists to Thurston and Rubeš
timed at 32.04.

With momentum on their side, Stars poured forward again and Craig Thurston skated at pace through
the neutral zone and into the attacking zone before backhanding the puck past Lawson in net and
Billingham were within one. Two goals scored in less than a minute, the second timed at 32.55.

From being in control, the visitors were now shaken and unable to control Stars fast, skilful forward line.
Billingham drew another penalty and went to the powerplay again on 36 minutes.

Coach Foster opted to use five forwards on the special teams, and this paid off inside a minute. James
Moss set up Tomaš Rubeš at the far post and he rifled the puck into the net and it was a tied game at
35.51, the Forum was absolutely jumping.

Arguably the second break came at the wrong time for Billingham as they had all of the momentum with
them, and the interval allowed Whitley to regroup before the final stanza.

The see-saw encounter swung back in Whitley’s favour as Ben Campbell netted a brace to restore the
visitors’ lead. The first on 44 minutes was set up brilliantly by player-coach David Longstaff who
threaded a pass through several players straight to the stick of Campbell at the top of the crease for a
one-timer past Watson in the Billingham net.

Campbell’s second came on the power play at 49.10. The initial shot from Harry Harley was saved but
Campbell picked up the rebound and forced the puck home from a tight angle to open up a two-goal
lead for the Warriors.

Billingham had to dig deep once more and they had their lifeline with just over six minutes to play. Set
up in the attacking zone, the Stars moved the puck back and forth to create an opening, finally Rubeš
found captain Michael Elder and his slammed his first time shot into the net to cut the deficit to a single
goal.

With supporters of both sides in the packed Forum shouting themselves hoarse, the Stars had one last
throw of the ice with two minutes remaining.

Having an offensive zone faceoff, coach Foster called timeout with 2.12 on the clock and pulled goalie
Mark Watson for an extra attacker.

Whitley had a couple of half chances on the empty net but Billingham’s defence held out and regained
possession. With time running down a scramble in front of net saw the puck on the stick of Craig
Thurston and the hometown boy forced it home for the equaliser at 58.25.

There was still time for either side to snatch the win in regulation but time ran down and the Tees Tyne
derby was heading for overtime.

OT has just three skaters per team on the ice and this period saw the play move quickly one way then
the other. Whitley called their timeout to set up and after the restart, Phil Edgar grabbed his hat-trick
and the game winner with a slapshot just inside the blueline.

A breathless 63 minutes of end to end action finishes with Warriors taking a 6-5 win and two points back
up the A19. Billingham have to contend with a single point for their tie at 60 minutes.

Stars Stats: Craig Thurston 2+1, Tomaš Rubeš 1+3, Michael Elder and Callum Davies 1+0, James Moss 0+2, Daniel Silar 0+1. Net: Mark Watson 38 (15 / 10 / 12 / 1)

Warriors Stats: Phil Edgar 3+1, Ben Campbell 2+0, Craig Johnson 1+0, David Longstaff and Ross Murray 0+2, Harry Harley 0+1. Net: Richie Lawson 29 (10 / 9 / 10 / 0)

After the game, head coach Stephen Foster praised the character and resilience of his troops to battle
back twice from multi goal deficit: “It was a great show of character to come back as we did, and I think that’s the kind of team we are this year.

"We don’t give up and will always go looking to score goals. It was a great game for the spectators I’m sure, and the players certainly gave their all. We have a lot of depth in our forwards this season,
that’s our strength and we will continue to play that way.”

Billingham Stars TV was on hand for the post game interviews:

Stars man of the match Mark Watson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDEWyS1f4l0
Stars head coach Stephen Foster: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URmZQVC5dvA
Warriors captain Dean Holland: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sd3ZO7tTYEE 

Billingham return to the Forum in two weeks time but before that they travel to Hillheads on Sunday 6
October for the next derby game against the Warriors, face off at 5pm.

Weekend Results:
NIHL(N)1:
Solihull Barons 6-4 Blackburn Hawks
Billingham Stars 5-6 Whitley Warriors (OT)

Main image: Linda Crabtree