Warriors arrange challenge games against Billingham Stars

Whitley Warriors celebrating a goal in a previous game against Billingham Stars. Picture by Colin Edwards
Whitley Warriors celebrating a goal in a previous game against Billingham Stars. Picture by Colin Edwards

Following Whitley Warriors qualification for the NIHL North Moralee Conference end of season play-offs, they have arranged to play two challenge games against local rivals the Billingham Stars.

The aim is to allow Whitley to go into the play-offs in mid-April well prepared and match sharp.

Warriors’ home game against Billingham is this coming Sunday – face off 5pm at Hillheads Ice Rink in Whitley Bay.

The following weekend they travel down to Teesside to take on the Stars on Saturday, April 5, at their Forum base.

Looking ahead to the two challenge games, Whitley coach Simon Leach said: “I don’t think we could get better preparation for the play-offs than the two games we’ve arranged.

“They are obviously going to be two local derby games, and despite there being no points at stake, I can’t see them being played in an exhibition manner at all.

“The series between the two teams is tied at two each so we would like to get two further victories.

“Winning becomes contagious and it would be a boost going into the play-offs on the back of some good form.”

Away from NIHL North hockey, two of the younger members of Warriors 2013-14 roster have been selected to play for Great Britain Under-18s in the World Championships that are being held in Dumfries this coming week.

Skilful winger Ben Richards and solid ‘D’ man Callum Read will both be in the Scottish borders to represent GB against countries such as Croatia, Korea, Holland, Romania and Lithuania.

Both youngsters first appeared for Warriors in the 2012-13 campaign, however, the teenagers have gone on to establish themselves as senior players this campaign.

Richards has managed to contribute an impressive 15 points in the 21 appearances he has made during the season while Read has proven himself to be a dependable blue liner who can deal with all NIHL North hockey has to offer on a weekly basis.

Warriors coach Leach will be able to help Warriors two youngsters throughout the tournament as he is one of GB under-18s assistant coaches, and he will be present in Dumfries throughout the week long round robin tournament.

Action in the under-18 World Championships got under way on Monday and concludes on the evening of Sunday, March 30, so both Richards and Read will miss the Billingham challenge match up as they will have the honour of representing their country against Lithuania in the final match of the World Championships for their age group.