Warriors in dramatic late fight back to beat Blackburn 4-3

Action from the Whitley Warriors Blackburn Hawks game. Picture by Colin Edwards
Action from the Whitley Warriors Blackburn Hawks game. Picture by Colin Edwards

Whitley Warriors scored with less than six seconds on the clock to secure an incredible come from behind win over Blackburn Hawks on Sunday evening.

Trailing 3-0 with nine minutes remaining, the Hillheads side turned the NIHL Moralee Conference encounter on its head with four late goals.

The winner came from DJ Good with almost the final action of the game.

Warriors had gone into the game without a number of experienced players as Ryan Sample, Joe Harley and Richie Lawson were unavailable while hard-working forward Jamie Tinsley did not take to the ice after aggravating a groin injury in the warm-up.

Youngster Mark Turnbull was Warriors’ only netminder so the teenage goalie started between the pipes in the absence of Lawson and Harley.

Due to the missing regulars, a number of young players got significant game time including defenceman Callum Read and forward Ben Richards.

Early in the game Warriors were put on the back foot when Richards was given two minutes in the penalty box for tripping. Hawks’ powerplay looked impressive, however, Jared Owen’s side were unable to find a way past Turnbull in Whitley’s net during the time they had the man advantage.

Later in the opening period Blackburn did break the deadlock when new signing Jake Nurse fired home to the delight of the large number of travelling fans who had made the journey up to Tyneside.

Warriors got a powerplay opportunity of their own after eight minutes when Chris Butler picked up an interference penalty for impeding Richards, but Whitley were unable to take advantage.

Hawks started the second session positively when Canadian import Jonathan Adams fired home after being set up by player coach Owen and Adam Brittle.

Blackburn increased their lead late in the second when Adams again lit the lamp when he tapped home a rebound after a Scott Robson shot had been saved by impressive Turnbull.

Going into the final period, Whitley altered their offensive lines and tactics as youngster Richards joined Adam Reynolds and Karl Culley on the first line.

Warriors were also looking to leave a man up front as much as possible.

Richards had an opportunity to get a goal back when he was awarded a penalty shot three minutes into the third period, however, Hawks goalie Daniel Brittle was able to save the effort.

Warriors’ change in approach and personnel did pay off, though, as skipper DJ Good grabbed Whitley’s first goal of the evening on 51 minutes when he curled the puck into the corner of the net after being set up by linemate Callum Watson.

Visibly lifted by their first goal of the evening, Whitley launched attack after attack on the Blackburn net and Reynolds made it 3-2 after 57 minutes when he fired past Daniel Brittle in the visitors net.

Whitley then levelled the game up around 30 seconds later when Reynolds blasted home from distance after blue liner Rob Wilson found his team-mate in just enough space for him to get his shot away.

Whitley coach Simon Leach called a time out with just over a minute left with the scores level. Then with just five seconds remaining DJ Good found the back of the net after being set up expertly by Reynolds and Watson, which saw Warriors claim an amazing 4-3 victory.

Warriors’ man of the match award went to blue liner Christian Johnson while Rick Ravey was chosen as Hawks best player on the evening.

After the game coach Leach said: “We put them under pressure in the third period and when we got the second goal we started to take control of the game.

“They were turning the puck over, which is what we wanted and our confidence built, and for the last few minutes the boys were absolutely unbelievable.

“We were missing quite a few influential players tonight, young Mark (Turnbull) in net was fantastic for us in his first full game, the five defenceman we had were superb, and our forwards really opened Blackburn up towards the end of the match.

“I’m so proud of the effort and commitment my side has showed out there and our youngsters are improving every week.”

Warriors are not in home action until January 5 when Solway Sharks visit Hillheads, however, they do have two away games before Christmas when they take on the Sutton Sting on Sunday, December 15, and Sheffield Spartans on Saturday, December 21. Both games will be played at Ice Sheffield.

Supporters are being reminded that tickets are available for the Legends Night on December 27 at 42nd Street in Whitley Bay where Warriors coach Simon Leach will be hosting an evening where fans will get the opportunity to ask Terry Matthews, Paul Matthews, Martin King, Dave Ross, John Iredale and Alfie Miller questions on their careers in the maroon and gold.

Tickets can be purchased online at http://shop.ww-sc.co.uk/product/legends-night-ticket/ or from the supporters club.