Warriors fight off Blaze and Barons

Dean Holland scores the winning goal for the Whitley Warriors at Coventry. Picture by Colin Edwards.

Dean Holland scores the winning goal for the Whitley Warriors at Coventry. Picture by Colin Edwards.

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WHITLEY Warriors picked up four points at the weekend with a Saturday night success at Coventry Blaze followed up 24 hours later with a win over Solihull Barons at Hillheads.

Warriors had two new names on their team sheet as Stuart Gibbons made his Whitley debut after moving to Tyneside from the Billingham Stars while coach Garry Dowd decided to lace up the skates once again to add some experience to his side’s defence.

The presence of Gibbons and Dowd on the Warriors roster is a great boost as the Hillheads squad has lacked depth at times during the current campaign.

On Saturday night Warriors showed great character to come back from 3-1 down to claim a 4-3 victory.

Mark Good, Stuart Gibbons, Nathan Ryder and Dean Holland were all on target as Whitley picked up an impressive win at the Sky Dome in Coventry.

On Sunday evening Warriors took on bottom of the table Solihull Barons in a bad tempered clash that saw both sides making regular trips to the penalty box as the two-man referring system seemed to stifle the on ice action.

However, despite running into penalty trouble the Warriors had more quality in their line up to get the better of the Midlands outfit.

First period strikes from Shaun Kippin and Dean Holland saw Whitley establish an early lead though Solihull did reduce arrears on 12 minutes when Rob Eley fired home to keep the away side in the contest.

Jamie Tinsley made it 3-1 to the Warriors on 24 minutes but the Barons quickly reduced the deficit once again as Adam Andrews fired home a powerplay marker after Warriors captain Rob Wilson picked up 14 minutes in penalties for an attempted spearing.

Whitley rallied once more and Warriors were able to grab another two goals before the end of the middle session as Kippin netted his second of the game before a shorthanded effort from defenceman Nathan Ryder saw Whitley lead 5-2 at the end of the second period.

Michael Roger beat Whitley goaltender Richie Lawson after 43 minutes making the score 5-3, which gave Solihull a little hope that they may yet be able to pull off a shock result against the title chasing Warriors.

But Roger was then involved in a battle with Warriors’ Kevin Bucas as both players saw the red mist and went toe to toe.

Barons’ hopes of picking up a positive result at Hillheads evaporated late on as goals from Jamie Tinsley and Dean Holland extended the home side’s margin of victory.

Whitley coach Dowd he was pleased with his side’s displays against Coventry and Solihull.

“I’m pleased with both performances over the weekend, to go to Coventry and get a win after we were 3-1 down, we kept our composure and came back to win 4-3,” he said.

“Solihull have signed a few players and have been getting a few good results.

“I knew it was going to be a difficult game as they came to spoil our game.

“We kept our composure and worked hard for 60 minutes and got a good result.”

Whitley only take to the ice once this weekend when they make the short journey south to Billingham to take on the Stars at the recently refurbished Billingham Forum on Sunday in a top of the table clash, face-off 6.30pm.

Warriors are now only five points behind the Stars after Billingham suffered a shock 3-1 away defeat against the Blackburn Hawks.