Four-point weekend sees Whitley Warriors go top

Callum Queenan celebrating after scoring the first goal for Whitley Warriors against Billingham Stars. Picture by Colin Lawson
Callum Queenan celebrating after scoring the first goal for Whitley Warriors against Billingham Stars. Picture by Colin Lawson

Whitley Warriors moved to the top of the NIHL North Division 1 standings thanks to a four-point weekend as David Longstaff’s side picked up two superb road victories.

They headed to Shropshire on Saturday evening to take on the talented Telford Tigers, where they came out on top 4-3 thanks to strikes from Jordan Barnes, Longstaff, Callum Queenan and Dan Pye.

Dan Pye defending for Whitley Warriors against Billingham Stars. Picture by Colin Lawson

Dan Pye defending for Whitley Warriors against Billingham Stars. Picture by Colin Lawson

Pye’s game winning goal came on the powerplay with just over 90 seconds remaining in the contest.

Warriors then took to the ice to face Billingham Stars on Teesside on Sunday evening.

They were without a number of senior players including Dean Holland, Jamie Tinsley, Alex Lawson and Ben Richards, however, a strong roster travelled to show the overall strength of the squad Longstaff has assembled on Tyneside.

Warriors started on the front foot, pressurising the Billingham defence at every given opportunity.

Whitley Warriors netminder Richard Lawson loses his helmet in a goal mouth scramble against Billingham Stars. Picture by Colin Lawson

Whitley Warriors netminder Richard Lawson loses his helmet in a goal mouth scramble against Billingham Stars. Picture by Colin Lawson

Stars netminder James Flavell had to produce two fine saves to keep Whitley from taking the lead during the opening period when he somehow kept out efforts from Martin Crammond and Queenan.

The visitors netted the first goal of the game just 29 seconds into the second period when Queenan fired home after being set up by player-coach Longstaff and blue liner Harry Harley.

Stars were creating openings of their own, though, and the home side drew level just before the 30-minute mark when their import Dennis Bostrum struck a sweet shot past Warriors goaltender Richie Lawson.

Queenan almost grabbed his second of the game towards the end of the period when he again went close.

Warriors did regain the advantage shortly afterwards, though, when Shaun Kippin lit the lamp from close range with the assists being credited to the lively Queenan and powerful Longstaff.

The final period saw Warriors continue to impress and they almost extended their lead through Callum Watson, only for home netminder James Flavell to impress as he was able to thwart the speedy winger on two separate occasions.

Late in the game Stars opted to pull their netminder so they could have an extra outskater, however, the Whitley defence and netminder Lawson stood firm and Warriors took the points on offer thanks to a 2-1 victory.

Longstaff’s side now sit top of the NIHL North Division 1 standings with 24 points from 15 games played.

Harley was named man of the match for Warriors after an outstanding defensive display while Flavell was chosen as Stars’ top performer on the night.

Warriors are back in action on home ice next weekend when Blackburn Hawks visit Hillheads on Sunday, December 6, in a fixture that gets under way at 5pm.

Blackburn currently occupy second position in the table, three points behind Warriors, however, the side from Lancashire have four games in hand.

Tickets for the match are priced at £8.50 for adults and £6.50 for juniors while a family ticket is available for £24.