COVENTRY made their first trip to Hillheads since losing to the Whitley Warriors in last season’s Championship final.
And on Sunday night, they fared no better in the English National League contest as Whitley got back to winning ways after surrendering their 38 game unbeaten run at Telford the week before.
The home side were certainly out of the blocks quickly and ahead in almost their first attack as DJ Good blasted the puck beyond the Coventry keeper after just 72 seconds.
However, despite plenty of good play from both sides there was no further scoring in the first session.
Although the visitors took the first penalty of the middle period, it was the Warriors who would spend most time in the sin bin and with two home players sitting out, Coventry seized their opportunity to draw level when Gareth Owen scored from distance at 25.16.
Back came Whitley and they went in front again 10 minutes later as the Blaze defence were unable to clear the puck and it was Shaun Kippin who turned it home with a neat finish.
The final period saw the Warriors begin in dominant fashion, pinning the visitors in their own area for spells and it was no real surprise when they scored what would be the winning goal at 43.32, Jordan Barnes finding the net when he latched onto a Kevin Bucas pass out of defence.
There was still time for Coventry to grab one more goal, although it seemed to have a little fortune about it.
There looked no danger initially, but when the linesman inadvertently became entangled with two Whitley defenders that left the visitors with a man over and Rikki Bryniarski stabbed the puck into the back of the net with a little under four minutes remaining.
Afterwards skipper Rob Wilson it was important they got the Telford result out of their system: “I was pretty confident we would turn it around.
“We have a lot of talent in the squad and too much experience for one result to affect us too much; but it is still very pleasing to get a win under our belts again.”
However, Coventry always seem to provide tough opposition and last night was no different, Wilson adding: “They give nothing away and always work hard, but in the first period we played especially well and were unlucky to be only a goal ahead.
“But we were a little too complacent in the second, and took our foot off the gas a little, which allowed them to get back into the game.
“And once again we seemed to have trouble with penalties in the middle period; it happens time and time again and is something we have to cut down on.”
“But it was two poor goals from our point of view,” Wilson continued, “because we had very little time with everyone on the ice in the second and gave away a goal because of that.
“And then there was the incident with the linesman who somehow managed to get involved in the play and that led to Coventry having a couple of men over.”
It was not a vintage Whitley performance for sure, but Wilson was pleased with the way his side dug in to get the result.
“It is frustrating that everyone can’t be on form all the time, but that’s just the way it is,” he said, “because if we can put on a performance when everyone plays to their max, we are more than good enough to beat any side in the league.
“We worked hard and got through it though, but there is still a lot more room for improvement and I think we can only get better as the season progresses.”
However, one player Wilson was certain played at his best was netminder David Lawrence: “He was simply outstanding.
“He has been fantastic for us this season and there were some shots tonight where he was screened and couldn’t have seen them until very late, but he still managed to come up with the save.
“He is a very important part of this team right now and deserves his chance with the Warriors.”
The Warriors are at home again this Sunday when Blackburn Hawks are the visitors to Hillheads and with the Lancashire outfit often backed by a noise contingent of fans, there should be a good atmosphere at the rink once again.
Tickets are available on the night, priced at Adults £7.50, Under 16s & Concessions £5.50, while a Family Ticket is available for £22. The game gets underway at 5pm with the doors open 30 minutes before face-off.