WHITLEY Warriors were in action twice last weekend, taking on the Telford Titans away from home on Saturday evening before entertaining Sheffield Spartans at Hillheads on Sunday night.
For their first game they travelled to Shropshire with a strong squad and were almost at full strength defence, with senior goaltender Richie Lawson started in nets and a wealth of talented offensive players such as DJ Good, Callum Watson, Mark Good and Harry Harley all in the line-up.
The game got off to an explosive start as Warriors’ Callum Pattison dropped the gloves with Telford’s Owen Bennett after only two seconds of the contest.
Once the hockey got under way Whitley took the lead through teenage forward Harley, however, Telford levelled the game up before the end of the first period.
The middle session of play saw Titans net twice to take a 3-1 lead before Mark Good fired home with around two minutes of the second period remaining.
And Warriors levelled shortly into the third when captain DJ Good lit the lamp.
But Telford got the better of Warriors netminder Lawson three times in a ten-minute spell which saw Titans take a significant 6-3 advantage.
Whitley never gave the game up, though, and DJ Good netted again with just 25 seconds remaining in the contest, which saw Telford take the two points on offer thanks to a 6-4 scoreline.
Christian Johnson picked up Warriors’ man of the match award after the youngster put in an accomplished display in defence having been switched from his normal forward position back to the blue line.
On Sunday evening Warriors got off to great start against the Sheffield Spartans as they held a 2-0 lead after 12 minutes thanks to two Mark Good efforts, the first strike coming on a Warriors powerplay opportunity.
In the middle session, Whitley again took the period by two goals, with Nathan Ryder netting his third goal of the campaign after some nice build up play from Callum Watson and Jordan Barnes after 23 minutes, before DJ Good grabbed his 17th strike of the season towards the end of the period.
Shortly into the last period Mark Good netted his third of the evening when he tapped a rebound in from close range after Spartans netminder Rob Browne had only been able to parry Phil Pritchard’s powerful shot from just inside the blue line.
Warriors were in total control at this point and Christian Johnson made it 6-0 three minutes later when the youngster fired home from distance.
With around ten minutes of the game remaining, Whitley power forward Callum Pattison dropped the gloves with Sheffield’s Nick Whyatt. Pattison got the better of the contest to the delight of the vocal crowd at Hillheads.
Warriors continued to create offensive opportunities as the game wore on and Mark Good netted his fourth of the match when he finished off another well worked move after 51 minutes of play.
Spartans did prevent Lawson from picking up a shut-out late on though as Alex Harding and Ollie Barron both netted in the last 90 seconds of the game.
Warriors’ 7-2 win lifts them above Sheffield and into fifth place in the NIHL North division one standings with just four games of the regular season remaining.
Lawson collected the Warriors man of the match award for an excellent display in goal.
After the win, Warriors coach Dave Holland said: “A really good result, they had Andre Payette on the bench who’s an English Premier League coach and he’s got them firing.
“Spartans have been getting some impressive results of late so for us to go out and get that victory against them is great.
“I’m really pleased with our lines, we put Christian Johnson back onto ‘D’ last week and I was really impressed with him.
“He played ‘D’ yesterday and got man of the match and he was solid again today. Changing those lines round a little has made a big difference.
“We suffered badly with injuries today, though. Simon Hehir took a skate blade to the ankle and he’s off to hospital. Anthony Price picked up a back injury and Nathan Ryder has got a neck injury, Price and Ryder should be fine for next week. We will have to wait to see with regards to Hehir’s injury though.”
This weekend sees Warriors in action on just one occasion as Billingham Stars travel to Hillheads for a Tyne Tees derby on Sunday evening (5pm face-off).
This will be the last derby of the 2012-13 season and Billingham need to take the points on offer to keep pressure on the Solway Sharks at the top of the table, while Whitley will be wanting the victory so that they can move further away from the relegation play-off place and into mid-table security.