WHITLEY Warriors were in action twice last weekend, travelling to Lancashire to take on the Blackburn Hawks on Saturday in a league game before making the short trip to Teesside to face the Billingham Stars on Sunday in an East/West Trophy match up.
Warriors were without several senior players on Saturday night as netminders Richie Lawson and Liam McAllister, defencemen Garry Dowd, Simon Hehir, Phil Pritchard and Ali Brummit, forwards Jamie Tinsley, Alex Lawson, Jordan Barnes were all unable to make the trip.
Whitley’s depleted line up acquitted themselves well in the opening period against Blackburn as both sides created a number of chances however only the home side were able to get on the scoresheet as Blackburn’s import Ivo Dimitrijevs found the back of the net after 14 minutes.
Hawks started the second session in great form and they held a 3-0 lead by the 24th minute as Danny Mackriel and Dimitrijevs both beat Whitley’s teenage goalie Joe Harley.
Warriors’ most threatening spell of the contest came after 30 minutes of play when Whitley had a 5-on-3 powerplay opportunity. DJ Good and Callum Watson both caused problems for the Blackburn defence however the visitors could not find a way past Hawks impressive netminder Daniel Brittle.
Whitley struggled to match Blackburn in the third period of the contest as Warriors short bench began to tire. Blackburn netted five times in the last session with Latvian Dimitrijevs getting a final period hat-trick to take his tally for the night to five.
Goaltender Joe Harley was named Whitley Man of the Match as the youngster made some superb stops even though his side went down to a 8-0 defeat.
The following evening Warriors were able to ice Liam McAllister, Jordan Barnes and Jamie Tinsley against the Billingham Stars which added a great deal of experience to the line up.
However, once again the opening period of hockey only saw a solitary goal going to Whitley’s opponents as James Udell fired home for Stars after nine minutes.
The second period saw Stars increase their lead to 3-0 through strikes from Adam Robinson and Stephen Wallace before Callum Watson got a goal back for Warriors.
Billingham were still creating plenty of chances though and Callum Davies restored the home side’s three goal advantage after 33 minutes following some nice play from James Moss and Andy Finn.
Stars got their fifth goal of the evening with three minutes left to play when Scott Ward netted his first goal of the 2012/13 season.
Warriors were still creating openings though and Paul Shanks fired home a superb goal late on which saw the game end 5-2 in favour of Billingham. Shanks’s first ever Whitley goal saw him named as the Warriors Man of the Match at the end of the contest.
Despite the two defeats over the course of the weekend Whitley’s depleted roster gave all they had for their club with Josh Maddock, DJ Good and Callum Watson all impressing over the 120 minutes of hockey that was played.
Warriors Captain DJ Good gave his views on a tough weekend of hockey.
“It was a very difficult weekend as we had both coaches and our first and second goalies missing,” he said.
“Also only one of our regular defencemen was able to play. Regardless of the scores I think we made some improvements defensively which will help us when we have a full team.
“We should have Hehir and Dowd back next week and Ben Richards looks a big talent so we should be able to run three lines in future games.
“Thinking long term, we can be positive because we have been working on certain things in training and the effort and passion is picking up. We have just got to keep improving, sort out the problems and make sure we are there and ready for the playoffs.”
Warriors will be hoping to get back to winning ways next weekend when they take on the Sutton Sting in a Trophy match up away from home on Sunday.
Whitley’s next home game is on December 9 (5pm face off) when the Billingham Stars are the visitors to Hillheads.
Club sponsor Pantrini’s have been running a promotion in recent weeks where fans can win tickets for Warriors home games, supporters should check out Pantrini’s facebook page for the chance to snap up some free tickets.