Warriors hold table toppers Solway Sharks at Hillheads

Whitley Warriors netminder Jordan Boyle. Colin Lawson - IceHockeyMedia
Whitley Warriors netminder Jordan Boyle. Colin Lawson - IceHockeyMedia
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Whitley Warriors secured a point in a 3-3 draw with runaway NIHL North Division 1 leaders Solway Sharks at Hillheads on Sunday evening.

The home side were able to name a strong roster including import Andre Payette, D-men Josh Maddock and Dan Pye and forwards Dean Holland, DJ Good and Callum Watson.

Whitley Warriors' Shaun Kippin drops the gloves in the game with Solway Sharks. Colin Lawson - IceHockeyMedia

Whitley Warriors' Shaun Kippin drops the gloves in the game with Solway Sharks. Colin Lawson - IceHockeyMedia

In the opening minutes young forward Niall Simpson went close for Whitley after a precise centre from his linemate Payette.

However, Sharks opened the games scoring on nine minutes when Jordan Bues, who is on a two-way deal with Sharks and the Braehead Clan, fired past Warriors goaltender Jordan Boyle, who was selected after impressing in the previous weekend’s games.

Just 28 seconds later Warriors drew level when Jordan Barnes scrambled the puck home after Whitley had put a great deal of pressure on Solway netminder Callum Hepburn.

Whitley continued to match Sharks for the remainder of the opening session as both Barnes and David Longstaff forced Hepburn into smart saves.

Jordan Barnes in action for Whitley Warriors against Solway Sharks. Picture by Colin Lawson - IceHockeyMedia

Jordan Barnes in action for Whitley Warriors against Solway Sharks. Picture by Colin Lawson - IceHockeyMedia

The second period saw Daniel Abercrombie fire Solway in front after he picked up the puck just inside the Warriors zone after a defensive mistake and fired past Boyle into top corner.

Warriors continued to create openings with the new look third line looking particularly impressive as Payette linked up well with Martin Crammond and Niall Simpson on a number of occasions.

However it was Sharks who grabbed the next goal when young Abercrombie once again netted when he was afforded too much room in front of the Warriors net.

There had only been three penalties called in the contest until the 57th minute when Sharks’ Ross Murray was given a two-minute penalty for cross checking. Following the infringement Murray exchanged blows with Warriors’ Shaun Kippin and both players were given four minutes in fighting penalties.

Following the fight the game’s momentum changed and Whitley’s powerplay unit only took three seconds to find the back of the net when Holland fired home having been fed the puck by Payette.

Warriors continued to pressurise the visitors defence and with under a minute remaining in the game Watson drew the scores level when he fired past Hepburn.

This was only the third occasion this season that Solway have not won a NIHL North Division 1 match, illustrating just what an excellent display Warriors had put in.

Whitley made use of their large roster as the likes of Lawson Glasby and Stu Tomlinson logged minutes back on the blue line while youngsters Anthony Wetherall and Ross Douglass got a number of shifts up front as they utilised the options available at every opportunity.

Netminder Boyle also impressed as the youngster saved over 91 per cent of the shots that came his way in a high pressure game.

Warriors’ ever dependable blue liner Maddock was selected as their man of the match while Ross Murray was chosen as Sharks’ best player on the evening by the Warriors coaching staff.

Whitley are in action this coming weekend on Sunday, face-off 6.30pm, when they travel down the A19 to take on the Billingham Stars in what could be the final Tyne-Tees derby of the 2016-17 campaign.