Match Report: Warriors v Stars 19/09/21
BILLINGHAM STARS resumed rivalries with nearest neighbours and tournament favourites Whitley Warriors in the National Ice Hockey League Moralee Cup (North) on Sunday evening, their young side going down 9-5 in a much closer game than many had predicted.
A wounded Warriors outfit took to the ice for the first time in front of their home crowd this season after suffering an unexpected 4-2 loss on the road at Solway Sharks the previous evening. Predictably they came flying out of the blocks, with the Stars’ youngsters seemingly overawed by the intensity and a large crowd it was no surprise when the home side took a second minute lead, Callum Watson firing low past an unsighted Thomas Brown in the Billingham net. Just over a minute later and the lead was doubled, Brown unable to smother a loose puck and Adam Finlinson on hand to poke it into the net. Whitley continued to pile on the pressure, the Stars failing to register a single shot on goal until the eighth minute when Chris Sykes finally tested Warriors netminder Dean Bowater. Tommy Spraggon drew the first penalty of the game in the ninth minute, Harry Harley punishing the transgression just nine seconds into the power play to open up the gap still further. Whitley veteran Shaun Kippin took a trip to the box in the 13th minute, but from the face off the Warriors broke up the ice and Harley bagged his second short-handed. Billingham finally responded with seconds remaining on their man advantage, captain Michael Elder forcing the puck past Bowater, but the hosts had the final say to cap their dominant first-period performance when Kyle Ross tapped home a rebound after an unlucky bounce left Brown stranded.
Heads could have gone down but the Stars rolled up their sleeves and came at their opponents in the middle session. Their progress was curtailed when they found themselves two men down in the 26th minute, Michael Bowman and James Moss both sent to the sin bin and gifting Whitley the chance to increase their lead through Great Britain international Robert Farmer. Unfazed, Billingham stuck to the task and were rewarded when Jack Emerson poked the puck home on the power play in the 30th minute. Three minutes later and the lead was cut once again as Sykes chased the puck the length of the ice and won it in the corner, taking it calmly out front and backhanding under Bowater for 6-3. The home side looking shaky at the back and a man down, a bullet from the blue line from James Hellens in the 37th minute reduced the deficit to two goals, however a Harley hat trick marker with less than two minutes to the buzzer gave Whitley some breathing space going into the break.
Billingham continued to press in the final twenty, but were put on the back foot in the 44th minute when Harley fed Phil Edgar who fired home with the Stars looking for an offside call that never came. The visitors weren’t about to give up and responded less than two minutes later when Ben Davison let fly to worry the hosts once more. Chances came and went for both sides, but the Warriors made the game safe in the 55th minute, Steven Chalmers capitalising on another power play opportunity to make the final score 9-5.
Man-of-the-Match for Billingham was Joe Walls.
Harry Harley 3+2; Philip Edgar 1+5; Robert Farmer 1+3; Callum Watson 1+2; Kyle Ross 1+0; Steven Chalmers 1+0; Adam Finlinson 1+0; Craig Johnson 0+1; Jordan Barnes 0+1
SOG: Dean Bowater 27 (6 / 9 / 12)
Chris Sykes 1+2; Michael Elder 1+1; James Hellens 1+0; Ben Davison 1+0; Jack Emerson 1+0; James Moss 0+2; Alex Preston 0+1
SOG: Thomas Brown 53 (26 / 15 / 12)
Coach Stephen Foster and captain Michael Elder spoke to BigRedMachine Radio after the game: click here to find out what they had to say.
Billingham welcome Sheffield Scimitars to the Forum for their opening National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 fixture next Sunday 26th September, face off 5.30pm.
Nottingham Lions 2 Widnes Wild 7
Blackburn Hawks 4 Solway Sharks 5
Solway Sharks 4 Whitley Warriors 2
Whitley Warriors 9 Billingham Stars 5
Solihull Barons 1 Sheffield Scimitars 8
Photos courtesy of Colin Edwards (CJE Photos).