WHITLEY Warriors suffered a 3-0 home defeat to Sutton Stong on Sunday night.
This was Sutton’s first ever visit to Tyneside for a league game, though Sting had made the trip for a trophy game back in late September.
The Warriors roster was missing a few familiar names as netminder Richie Lawson was still out, along with forwards Christian Johnson and Martin Crammond, while blue liner Ali Brummit is unavailable.
Whitley coach Dave Holland has boosted his squad significantly though as youngsters Ben Richards, Callum Clark, Daniel Anderson and Callum Read all made their debuts against Sutton.
Sutton impressed during the early exchanges and the away side took the lead on 13 minutes when Simon Butterworth fired home after neat build up play from Shaun Ashton.
Both sides created numerous scoring opportunities throughout the remainder of the first period however both netminders, Alan Levers, Sting, and Liam McAllister, Warriors, were at the top of their games.
Whitley were dealt further blows as forward Paul Shanks was unable to ice after the opening 20 minutes and then key defenceman Phil Pritchard took a puck to the face which saw the former Billingham Bombers blue liner helped from the ice after a lengthy delay to play.
Young forward Richards deputised for Shanks on Warriors’ third forward unit and the teenager showed some nice touches.
On defence Clark got a number of shifts as Holland had to shuffle his resources following the loss of Pritchard.
Sting quickly took advantage of Warriors’ problems at the back as Ben Lowe and Ryan Johnson both netted in quick succession towards the end of the second session.
Warriors tried to take the game to Sutton in the third period and Whitley came close to scoring on a powerplay opportunity after 48 minutes when Sting’s Aaron Dad had been penalised for clipping.
DJ Good, Jamie Tinsley and Garry Dowd all saw their efforts turned away by the impressive Levers.
Whitley themselves picked up a penalty after 54 minutes when Nathan Ryder was also called on a clipping penalty.
Warriors successfully killed the penalty, unfortunately there was not enough time to get themselves back into the contest.
Man of the match for Warriors went to teenager Richards.
After the game, Holland said: “It’s very disappointing, but I knew it was going to be a tough game as Sutton are a really good team.
“They’ve got a lot more depth and experience than our team at the moment, and it showed tonight.
“We were missing some key players and then Philly (Phil Pritchard) took a puck to the face, that didn’t help us at all.
“They did have some luck while we had none; we hit the bar and the puck just didn’t land right at times.
“No one on my team had a howler and everyone played their heart out, what more can you ask. Their keeper also had a blinder.”
Pantrini’s Fish and Chips sponsored the Sutton game and are also the club’s main sponsor.
This weekend sees Warriors in an away double header as they travel to Blackburn on Saturday for a league contest before taking on Billingham Stars on Teesside the following evening in a trophy encounter.
Warriors next home game is on December 9 when Whitley host Billingham in a league game at Hillheads (5pm face-off).