Whitley Warriors edge out Sutton Sting
Whitley Warriors entertained Sutton Sting on Sunday evening at Hillheads and earned a 4-2 win.
The home side welcomed Ali Brummitt back into their line-up as the blue liner has returned to the roster after a spell away from competitive hockey.
Whitley were able to select an almost full strength squad, although Liam Brown missed out after taking a puck to the face in the previous weekend’s game in North Wales against Deeside Dragons.
Warriors almost grabbed an early lead as David Longstaff twice went close, however, the home side only had to wait till the sixth minute for the opening goal through Callum Watson.
Sting created openings of their own, though, and levelled the scores with ten minutes on the clock when Joe Coulton fired home from distance.
Whitley went close to regaining the advantage late on in the opening period when Sutton netminder Dmitri Zimzodra somehow kept out a stinging effort from Harry Harley.
The second period saw Whitley regain the lead on 32 minutes when Lawson Glasby grabbed his fourth of the season from close range.
But once again Sutton were able to equalise quickly as Charlie Thompson levelled the scores after being nicely set up by the impressive youngster Coulton.
Warriors lead after two sessions of play as Watson fired the home side back into the lead on 36 minutes when his sharp stick handling was just too quick for the visitors’ rearguard.
Whitley import Andre Payette took a heavy blow towards the end of the period which resulted in the experienced Canadian playing no further part in the match.
The final period saw Warriors come close to extending their lead when Jordan Barnes’ effort after some nice work from Glasby was kept out by Zimozdra.
Sutton were still firmly in the contest and Warriors netminder Richie Lawson had to be at his best to keep out efforts from Johnson and Thompson as the visitors exerted some pressure on the Whitley defence.
Late on Sting opted to take a time out and pull their netminder for an extra skater as they looked for the game tieing goal, however, Warriors were able to fire into an empty net through Harley to claim a 4-2 victory over a very well organised and disciplined Sting outfit who were a credit to their coach Simon Butterworth.
Watson was chosen as Warriors’ man of the match for his display up front, while Sutton’s Lloyd Gibson was selected as their best player on the night.
Following the contest, Warriors assistant coach Dave Holland said: “It is a pleasing result, they are a well drilled side and they’ve come back in a good number of their previous games against good teams.
“For us to be able to get a 4-2 win against them is a good result as we always knew this was going to be a tough game.
“There netminder is one of the best in the league and he made a number of top saves, we’ve played against him for a number of years now so we expected him to be on his game.
“You can’t take anything away from Sutton, they worked hard right up until the end of the game.
“Ali Brummitt came back for us, we weren’t sure how many shifts he’d get, but he got a number of shifts and we were happy with how he did for us out on the ice.
“He’s a good solid defenceman, he plays hard and passes the puck well, so he should be a good addition.
“Looking ahead to next weekend we should have a similar squad available, Andre took a knock which was to his ankle, but he should be OK going forward.”
Warriors are in action on Sunday when Blackburn Hawks head to Whitley Bay for a cup encounter, which gets under way at the normal 5pm face-off time.
Whitley have had the upper hand against the Hawks so far this season, however, the cup encounter promises to be a feisty affair between two of the more established sides in the NIHL North set up.