Whitley Warriors claim Stinging victory over visitors Sutton
Whitley Warriors entertained the Sutton Sting on Sunday evening at Hillheads and secured a 4-2 victory.
The home side dedicated the game to supporter Bobby Dixon and his family after he passed away recently.
Bobby was well known throughout hockey circles and a minute’s applause took place in his honour prior to the face-off.
Warriors were able to take to the ice with a strong, although import Andre Payette was missing from the line-up due a hand injury while Ben Richards was unavailable.
Sting travelled to the north east with a relatively short bench, however, all their prominent players did make the trip to Tyneside.
Once the action got under way Warriors were able to establish a quick lead as Jordan Barnes fired them ahead with five minutes on the clock after he had been nicely set up by player-coach David Longstaff.
Under a minute later it was 2-0 when DJ Good fired home from close range to the delight of the home support.
Whitley continued to pressurise the visitors and Shaun Kippin almost made it 3-0 with 15 minutes on the clock but Sutton netminder Dmitri Zimzodra was just able to deny him.
With only seconds left in the opening period Sting got themselves on the scoresheet and back into the game when they launched a swift counter attack with resulted in Charlie Thompson firing past Whitley netminder Richie Lawson.
Sutton went onto level the scores just after the midway point of the game when a deflected effort from Matt Jeffcock found its way into the back of the Warriors net.
The announcement of the assists on Sutton’s second goal were met with amusement on the visitors’ bench as youngster Joe Coulter was given an assist despite playing no part on his side’s game levelling goal.
Whitley then ran into trouble as referee Wardell handed out three minor penalties to the home side in quick succession with Martin Crammond, Dean Holland and Dan Pye all fouling foul of the officials.
Warriors’ penalty killing unit were at the top of their game, though, as they were not only able to kill off the penalties but they also grabbed a short handed goal when the in-form Callum Watson fired his side back into the lead with 35 minutes played.
Warriors got their first powerplay opportunity of the night four minutes into the third period and made full use of their man advantage as Watson grabbed his second of the evening when he lit the lamp with the assists going to Longstaff and Shaun Kippin.
Both sides had further powerplay opportunities but no further goals came and Whitley were able to claim a 4-2 victory and their second success over Sutton on home ice in the last fortnight.
Callum Watson was chosen as the Warriors man of the match for his brace and energetic display on the wing while Stings long serving d man James Goodman was selected as the visitors’ best player by the Warriors coaching staff.
After the game, Warriors power forward Jordan Barnes said: “It was a good result for us, the whole team played well, we got the win which is the most important thing.
“It was a little nerve wracking playing with Lobby [David Longstaff], however, I grabbed the early goal and that settled my nerves a bit.
“I’ve played with Lobby a few times in the past and it’s great as he can just set players up like he did with me for my goal.
“We trained hard during the week going into this weekend’s game and we will be training hard again this week going into the double header with Telford and Solihull next weekend.
“The game down at Telford will be tough as they are strong at home. Games against Solihull are always feisty ones, the kind of games I like, so that should be a great physical game as well.
“We are on a great winning streak at the minute so we just have to keep doing what we are doing, Andre [Payette] should be back next weekend as well, so that’s a further boost for us all as well going into our double header of games.”
Warriors take on Telford Tigers on the road next Saturday night in a league fixture down in Shropshire before taking to home ice once again next Sunday when Solihull Barons are the visitors for a NIHL North league encounter that gets under way at 5pm on North Tyneside.