Weekend report: 8 March 2020 - Sting succumb to super Stars
Ultimate Windows-sponsored Billingham Stars recent good form continued as a hat-trick from captain
Michael Elder lifted them to a 6-4 win over Sutton Sting at the Forum on Sunday.
Billingham came flying out of the blocks in the first period but were denied by goalie Nick Winters and
the period ended scoreless. Thomas Brown in the Stars net also had to come up big on occasion when
Sutton hit on the counter attack.
Into the middle period, Sutton carried forward a powerplay and made the extra man count as Adrian
Palak fired across the net and into the top right corner to open the scoring at 20.57. More penalty woes
for Billingham - Dylan Hehir sitting for charging - put the visitors back on the power play and again they
took full advantage.
Sting forward Stanislav Lascek layered a wrist shot into the roof of the net and gave Brown in net no
chance, doubling the visitors’ lead at 26.32.
Billingham, at first reeling from trailing on the scoreboard, found their feet and there the proverbial
kitchen sink at the Sutton net for the remainder of the period. A combination of inspired goalkeeping
and strong shot-blocking from the defence kept Stars off the scoresheet and frustrations grew on the ice
and in the crowd.
The deadlock was finally broken as Stars found the net twice in the space of 26 seconds. First Tomaš
Rubeš forced the puck over the line after a goalmouth scramble to open Stars’ account at 37.21. Then
as the crowd had barely sat down, Michael Elder repeated the trick at 37.47 and the game was tied at
2-2 heading into the second interval.
With the swing in momentum firmly on their side, Billingham were into action straight from the restart of
the final period. The go-ahead goal on the face of it defies the laws of physics. Elder had the puck in
the corner, some six feet behind the goal line, he fired a wrist shot at the net which pinged off the post
and found its way into the net off the back of goalie Winters. Just 30 seconds into the period, a perfect
start for the home side.
It became a natural hat-trick for Elder five minutes later, Stars #32 slamming home from a set-up pass
by Rubeš and Billingham had a two-goal lead.
If Sutton-Billingham games have told us anything in recent years it’s that no lead is safe. And so it
came as no surprise when Sutton pulled a goal back ten minutes from time. Sam Jones was given
space on the left hashmarks and he netted Sting’s third at 50.33.
Less than a minute later, operating on a power play, Billingham restored their lead. A well worked move
saw James Moss’ initial shot saved, but Chris Sykes was on hand to pot the rebound at 51.02.
Still the goals continued, a breakaway from Cameron Glasby brought the gap back to one at 52.40
before hat-trick hero Elder turned provider for Rubeš to net his second five minutes from time to, finally,
seal the win for the Billingham Stars.
The win puts Stars three points clear in fifth place heading into the final weekend of the regular season,
Billingham have a home game against Solihull Barons next Sunday.
Man-of-the-Match for the Stars was Michael Elder.
Stars Stats: Michael Elder 3+1, Tomaš Rubeš 2+3, Chris Sykes 1+0, James Moss and Callum Davies 0+1. SOG: Thomas Brown 53 shots, 49 saves (14 / 19 / 20)
Barons Stats: Adrian Palak 1+1, Sam Jones, Cameron Glasby and Stanislav Lascek 1+0, Jamie Scott 0+2, Warren Tait, Thomas Relf and David Pyatt 0+1. SOG: Nick Winters 36 shots, 30 saves (9 / 17/ 10)
Speaking after Sunday’s game, head coach Stephen Foster was pleased to keep the side’s recent
momentum going: “We knew Sutton would be a challenge as they have a very experienced roster, but I was very pleased with the way we played and we are able to keep our good run going.
“At 2-0 down we didn’t let our heads drop and took the chances when they came and then kicked on in
the third period. The mentality of the squad in the last few weeks has been excellent and we’re all
pulling in the same direction as we head into the playoffs.”
POST GAME INTERVIEWS
Billingham welcome Solihull Barons for a National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 clash at
the Forum on Sunday 15 th March, face off 6.30pm.
Weekend Results in NIHL North 1:
Blackburn 3-12 Solihull
Solway 13-3 Whitley
Whitley 5-2 Blackburn
Solihull 9-0 Nottingham
Billingham 6-4 Sutton