WHITLEY Warriors picked up a home victory over the Sheffield Spartans on Sunday night in their only fixture of the weekend.
Warriors were without netminder Richie Lawson and blue liner Ali Brummit, who were both ruled out due to injury, but Dean Holland and Callum Watson were both fit enough to take to the ice after missing the previous weekend’s defeat at Trafford due to injury problems.
Warriors took an early lead when Callum Watson tapped into an empty net after superb build up play from Harry Harley.
Sheffield had a number of powerplay opportunities in the first period but Whitley’s penalty killing unit was able to see them all off.
Midway through the second session, Whitley ran into more penalty trouble when Josh Maddock and Nathan Ryder both picked up minor penalties.
Spartans’ powerplay unit clicked into gear this time and they levelled the game just before the 30-minute mark when captain Oliver Barron fired home unassisted.
Sheffield took the lead less than a minute Iater when Alex Harding netted with a wraparound goal.
Warriors netminder Liam McAllister looked a little shell shocked at Sheffield’s two quick-fire goals, however, their scoring spree was not over as Barron netted his second just before the 32-minute mark.
Warriors managed to pull a goal back before the end of the middle period when youngster Harley finished from close range after build up play from line-mate Watson.
Shortly into the third period, Spartans’ Barron picked up a minor penalty for hooking.
Warriors exerted a great deal of pressure on Sheffield’s defence and equalised when Mark Good found the back of the net after 47 minutes.
Less than 30 seconds later Whitley took the lead with a breakaway goal as Holland sped away from the Spartans defence to present Jamie Tinsley with a great opportunity and the former Newcastle Vipers forward made no mistake with his finish.
Warriors were now playing some of their best hockey so far this season and player/coach Garry Dowd got his name on the scoresheet when he fired home on 51 minutes to the delight of the partisan home crowd.
Sheffield had a late opportunity to get back into the game when they got yet another powerplay after Alex Lawson picked up a slashing penalty, however, Warriors were able to thwart Spartans’ forwards even when the visitors pulled their netminder late on, which in effect gave Sheffield a two-man advantage for the final minute or so of action.
After the game, Holland said: “It was good to get back to winning ways, we’ve just got to build on that and take it into next weekend.
“We’re settled now with our squad we’ve just got to try to take it forward.”
Whitley now sit third in NIHL North 1 with nine points from the opening eight games of the season.
The home game against Telford Titans postponed last weekend has been awarded to Warriors as a 5-0 victory as the Shropshire side could not make the trip to the north east.
Warriors thanked Norham Garage and All American Treats, who are the latest two local businesses to take out a sponsorship package with the club this term.
Warriors are in action in Sheffield this weekend when they take on Sutton Sting at Ice Sheffield on Sunday, 4.45pm face-off.
Whitley’s next home game is on Sunday, November 11, against Coventry Blaze.