Derby win for Warriors over Stars

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Christmas came early for Whitley Warriors on Sunday evening as the Tynesiders picked up a resounding 7-3 derby victory over Billingham Stars in NIHL North 1 Moralee action.

A double from Shaun Kippin and further goals from Jordan Barnes, Dean Holland, Kyle Ross, Harry Harley and Ben Richards helped Warriors to a deserved victory over their local rivals in front of a bumper crowd at Hillheads ice rink.

Warriors picked up a narrow 4-3 away victory when the two teams met down at the Forum in October when Adam Finlinson proved to be the match winner, and David Longstaff’s team went in to the derby on the back of last weekend’s spirited home defeat to league leaders Sheffield Steeldogs.

A scrappy opening ten minutes saw both sides struggling to find any sort of attacking rhythm, with no clear opportunities of note meaning minimal work for netminders Lawson and Flavell.

The Maroon & Gold struck the first blow timed at 11:27 , when new man Sam Zajac and Shaun Kippen set up Jordan Barnes, who tapped home for 1-0.

Billingham had started the game in determined fashion, however, and levelled the game less than two minutes later on the powerplay thanks to Latvian forward Deniss Baskatovs.

Whitley restored their lead almost immediately through Holland and the period scoring was completed in spectacular fashion in the final minute thanks to a rasping slap shot effort from Kippin.

The Stars pulled a goal back in the second period through Sykes for 3-2, but Warriors restored their two-goal cushion through Harley before Kippin added a fifth.

Stars grabbed a third courtesy of Baskatovs on the powerplay to make it 6-3 just before the end of the second period.

In a fairly routine final period Warriors were in full control of proceedings. Any hope Billingham and their supporters had of launching the most unlikely of comebacks were extinguished almost immediately in the when Warriors struck for the seventh and final time when Zajac had time and space to shoot from the high slot and as the shot arrowed towards goal, young playmaker Ben Richards was able to grab the final touch.