A Soar way for Whitley Warriors’ season to end in play-off defeat

Whitley Warriors' Ben Richards. Picture by Colin Lawson - IceHockeyMedia
Whitley Warriors' Ben Richards. Picture by Colin Lawson - IceHockeyMedia

​Whitley Warriors’ came to an end on Saturday night when they lost their NIHL North play-off semi-final 5-3 against Solihull Barons.

Two goals in the final period saw the side from the Midland​s take their place in Sunday’s final while for the Warriors it is a case of beginning preparations for the 2016-17 campaign.

Whitley Warriors' Harry Harley. Picture by Colin Lawson - IceHockeyMedia

Whitley Warriors' Harry Harley. Picture by Colin Lawson - IceHockeyMedia

Whitley took a strong roster into the play-off weekend at ​Ice Sheffield, with Callum Queenan returning to the squad after a spell out through injury, and this enabled them to ice four forward lines during the contest.

Warriors started​ on the front foot and had an early goal from Harry Harley disallowed for a player in the crease by referee Emerson.

​But ​Harley soon got his name on the score sheet when he fired home after ​six​ minutes​ of play.​

Whitley continued to create openings as DJ Good went close minutes later after ​being set up by player​-​coach David Longstaff.

At the other end of the ice​,​ netminder Richie Lawson made several fine stops to ​deny the Barons ​in ​the opening ​period.

The middle ​20 minutes of play saw Warriors go on the penalty kill early and Solihull took advantage when Thomas Soar fired home to level​.

At this stage the ​Barons were creating a number of openings and Perry Doyle’s side took the lead on 36 minutes when Soar grabbed his ​seco​nd of the game with a sweet strike.

Warriors then opted to pull netminder Lawson​, ​who looked to have picked up an injury following Solihull’s ​seco​nd goal​, ​which gave young netminder Mark Turnbull the opportunity for some ice time in a crucial game.

It took Whitley under a minute to level the scores when young winger Ben Richards scored from close range following a scramble in front of the Barons goal.

Richards had been lively throughout and his goal was just reward for the endeavour and perseverance he had shown out on the ice.

With the​ ​sides tied at ​two-all, the game was intriguingly poised with 20 minutes​ remaining​.

Solihull ​went in front when the impressive Soar netted precisely to c​omplete a memorable hat​-t​rick for the Barons forward.

Warriors regrouped quickly​ ​and Callum Watson netted a superb wraparound goal just over minute later when his shot had too much power and precision for Solihull netminder Hewitt.

Warriors looked to have regained their initiative​,​ however​, ​Barons managed to regain the lead just ​two​ minutes later when Soar netted his ​four​th goal of the game.

Warriors gave everything they had to find a way back into the match ​but were unable to find that elusive equalis​er,​ and late in proceedings Solihull sealed their victory when Josh Bruce netted ​his side’s fifth of the evening.

Ben Richards was selected as Warriors​‘ m​an of the ​m​atch for an energetic display ​i​n front of the large travelling support from the ​n​orth ​e​ast.

​Not surprisingly ​Soar was selected as Barons​‘ m​an of the ​m​atch for his goalscoring exploits.

Warriors​‘​ momentous 2015​-​16 season has now come to an end​,​ however​, supporters will have fond memories of David Longstaff’s first season back on Tyneside as Whitley finished runners​-​up in Division 1 and comfortably qualified for the end of season play​-​offs.