WHITLEY Warriors were only in action on one occasion last weekend when they took on the Sutton Sting in a NIHL North division one at Hillheads on Sunday evening.
Warriors went into the contest with a strong squad though they were without Simon Hehir, Martin Crammond and Josh Maddock who were all out of action due to either illness or injury.
Senior goaltender Richie Lawson started the game while DJ Good, Callum Watson and Jamie Tinsley were on Whitley’s principle forward unit.
The match got off to a superb start for Warriors as Jamie Tinsley netted the game’s opening goal after only two minutes after some neat build up play from Mark Good and ‘D’ man Christian Johnson.
Sting created plenty of chances, though, and Shaun Ashton levelled the game up with 11 minutes on the clock.
Sutton went on to take the lead shortly before the first intermission when youngster Craig Thurston fired home after being set up by the veteran Simon Butterworth.
In the middle session of play, five minor penalties were called, with Warriors picking up penalties for kneeing and tripping while Sting were penalised for interference, hooking and having too many men on the ice, which led to numerous powerplay opportunities which neither side was able to take advantage of.
Warriors were forced into a personnel change just after the half hour mark when goaltender Lawson left the ice after picking up a leg injury.
Young netminder Joe Harley replaced him and the youngster was quickly called into action as he made a number of fine stops moments after taking to the ice.
Whitley went into the third period with everything to play for as the match was intriguingly poised at 2-1 to the visitors.
But Sutton quickly extended their lead as Simon Butterworth netted his eighth goal of the campaign just two minutes into the final session of play.
Shortly afterwards Whitley’s Nathan Ryder picked up a minor penalty for tripping and on the resulting powerplay opportunity Sutton’s prolific forward Chris Sykes fired home.
Warriors continued to create plenty of openings, however, Sutton goalie Dmitri Zimzodra was in scintillating form as he made several top class saves which ensured his side left Tyneside with the two points on offer thanks to their 4-1 victory.
Warriors coach Dave Holland said: “A disappointing result but a good performance, we dominated that game in spells and took the game to them.
“We started the game well, however, our level then dropped a bit but then we got the intensity going once more.
“Their goalie was great today and you can’t take that away from them.
“Martin Crammond was a miss tonight as the line of him, Harry Harley and Mark Good normally works well, but unfortunately he was unavailable as he wasn’t well.”
Warriors will be hoping to get a positive result next weekend when Telford Titans visit Hillheads for Whitley’s final home fixture of the 2012-13 campaign (face-off 5pm).
This will be the Titans’ first visit to Tyneside this season as the Telford side were unable to travel to Whitley Bay back in October due to transportation problems.