WHITLEY Warriors put in a disciplined and committed performance to earn a well deserved point as they made the short journey to Teesside to take on league leaders Billingham Stars.
The game began at a frenetic pace, and from the opening face-off Warriors’ power forward Callum Pattison dropped the gloves to take on Billingham blue liner Thomas.
Despite the Whitley man getting the better of the bout it was the Stars who took the initiative as veteran forward Paul Windridge fired home after a minute to send the Stars into an early lead.
Warriors drew level fortuitously after five minutes of play when DJ Good saw his shot fly back off goaltender James Flavell and ricochet into the back of the net off a Billingham defenceman.
Stars enjoyed more possession during the remainder of the opening session, however, but Warriors goaltender Richie Lawson was able to turn away every effort the Stars had on his goal.
Whitley ran into a little penalty trouble in the first period as Dean Holland was twice penalised for roughing in the opening exchanges of the game, however, Warriors were able to kill off both penalties successfully.
The game continued to be a physical end to end affair and it came as no surprise when Whitley’s Shaun Kippin was involved in an altercation midway through the middle session of play.
Warriors lost Callum Pattison from the game after 33 minutes when the youngster was given a five-minute plus a game penalty for an off the puck slash on a Billingham player.
Both sides were unfortunate not to add to their score as Callum Watson went close for the Warriors while Billingham had a goal chalked off for a high sticking offence.
Both sides continued to create numerous offensive opportunities in the third period but both netminders were in top form and it appeared that only a stunning strike would get the better of either goaltender.
With just over two minutes of the game remaining, Whitley went down to four men when Shaun Kippin was sent to the sin bin for a delay of game call.
This gave Billingham the perfect opportunity to claim that elusive game winning goal, however, the Stars were unable to find a way past the in-form Lawson, even with the man advantage and the game ended all square at 1-1.
Fittingly both net minders, Lawson and Flavell were adjudged to be the top performers on the night.
The result means that Billingham still lead the Warriors by five points at the top of the English National League division one.
Whitley take on Nottingham Lions in the east Midlands this weekend when they will be hoping to collect both points on offer to continue to pressure the Stars at the top of the standings.
Billingham do have the opportunity to increase their lead over Whitley next weekend though as the Stars travel south to Telford on Saturday night before facing strugglers Solihull Barons the following evening on Teesside.