Whitley Warriors beat title holders Solway Sharks at Hillheads on Sunday evening.
The home side were boosted by the return of long term absentee Adam Reynolds who was able to ice after being out of action for around three months with a broken ankle.
Warriors started the game on the front foot and took the lead five minutes in when Rob Wilson fired home from just inside the blue line.
Later in the opening period Callum Watson came close to extending their lead but he saw his powerful shot cannon off the post with Sharks netminder Jordan Boyle beaten.
The second period saw both sides creating offensive opportunities with Rick Bentham looking dangerous for the visitors while Reynolds and Alex Lawson were causing problems for the Solway defence.
With 35 minutes played Alex Lawson fired home the second goal of the game after some nice approach play from Kyle Ross and Scott Cooper.
Just over a minute later Whitley were on the scoresheet again when Watson netted from close range.
Warriors were now in the ascendancy and Reynolds scored his first goal of the campaign to make it 4-0 with 37 minutes on the clock.
As the period was coming to a close, Sharks’ Ross Murray was ejected from the game for checking to the head.
Solway opted to switch their netminders after 40 minutes with former Whitley goaltender Jordan Boyle being replaced by fellow youngster Andrew Little.
Warriors started the final session on an extended powerplay due to Murray’s misdemeanour at the end of the middle period, but Sharks were able to successfully kill off the five-minute powerplay.
However, Sharks did concede a powerplay marker shortly afterwards when Watson fired home while Solway’s Joe Coulter was in the penalty box for a high sticking infringement.
Coulter had caught Whitley blue liner Dan Harris in the face with his stick and the Warriors number three was unable to play any further part in the game.
Warriors then ran into penalty trouble of their own with Lawson and Jamie Tinsley both taking minor penalties.
Solway took advantage and grabbed their opening goal when Struan Tonnar fired home.
The visitors continued to look dangerous and a Rick Bentham effort caught out Richie Lawson in the Warriors goal to make it 5-2 with under ten minutes left.
With time ticking down Solway opted to pull their goaltender and the tactic paid off when Stevie Moore lit the lamp late on, however, Sharks were unable to add any further goals to their tally and the game ended 5-3 in Whitley’s favour.
Callum Watson was named Warriors’ man of the match while Sharks’ Rick Bentham was selected as Solway’s top performer.
Warriors head coach Simon Leach said: “The two points were pleasing, however, the way we played was disappointing at times.
“We’ve had a two-week break and maybe because of that we were a little rusty and that showed.
“Adam Reynolds was back in action he hasn’t trained that many times, but he did well and he got some time on both the penalty kill and powerplay.
“He’s done a good job for us and he’s been calm on the puck when we needed that, he was eager to get back on the ice and it was great to have him back for us.
“Dan Harris got caught in the third period, I didn’t see the incident so I can’t really comment, but it does seem like it was accidental, Dan’s a tough lad and he should be fine for our games next weekend.”
Warriors have two road games next weekend with fixtures against Sheffield Spartans on the Saturday and Billingham Stars on the Sunday.
Whitley will be travelling to both games at almost full strength with just Jordan Barnes and Paul Matthews missing through injury.