Whitley Warriors’ first home league game of the season saw them beat Sutton Sting 4-2 in front of a large and passionate Hillheads crowd.
Warriors were able to include Ben Richards in their line-up as the youngster was back to full fitness, but the experienced blue liner Rob Wilson was still out due to a back problem.
The home side started on the front foot and took the lead with just four minutes on the clock when Harry Harley fired home after being set up by line-mate Dean Holland.
Warriors continued to create openings during the opening period and Harley made it 2-0 on 15 minutes after Holland had once again created the chance.
Early in the second period Sutton’s Reece Cairney-Witter came to blows with Warriors Scott Cooper after Cairney-Witter was given a minor penalty for tripping Whitley defenceman Josh Maddock.
Cooper was given four minutes in the penalty box for his indiscretion while Cairney-Witter had to sit out of the game for six minutes.
Warriors’ young forward Kyle Ross picked up a two-minute penalty for tripping shortly afterwards and Sting made no mistake on their first powerplay opportunity as skipper James Goodman fired a powerful slap shot past Whitley netminder Richie Lawson.
Sutton looked a threat offensively with their Slovakian forward Ivo Celar impressing, however, it was Whitley who grabbed the game’s next goal when teenage winger Richards fired home unassisted to give his side a 3-1.
Sting’s Cairney-Witter continued to antagonise Warriors and he and Whitley forward Jordan Barnes dropped the gloves towards the end of the second period and both were sent to the sin bin on double roughing minor penalties.
Warriors’ skipper Jamie Tinsley extended his side’s advantage just 33 seconds into the final period when he netted after some pleasing approach play from Harley and Dan Harris.
Sutton were still in the contest, though, and Sting pulled a goal back with just over ten minutes remaining when James Goodman grabbed his second powerplay marker of the evening.
Whitley ran into some penalty trouble late on as Sting pressed forward in search of goals, however, despite the visitors calling a late time-out to adapt their tactics and opting to pull their netminder so they could have an extra out skater, they were unable to add to their tally and Warriors took the points on offer in this NIHL North division one encounter.
Warriors head coach Simon Leach said: “I thought the guys played well. Young Ben Richards and Kyle Ross both did themselves proud, as did Jordan Barnes.
“We’ve shown we have the character in our team tonight and we are hoping to take that sort of display into Sheffield next week.
“We had to mix and match a little towards the end with the penalties, we switched Dean Holland to defence just to add a little bit of experience at the back when we needed it.
“Adam Reynolds has injured his ankle and it’s quite badly swollen at the minute, so we’ll have to see how it is in the morning and go from there.
“Hopefully it won’t be too bad as we obviously don’t want him hurt and he’s an important part of the team.”
Richards was chosen as Warriors’ man of the match while Sutton’s Russian born goaltender Dmitri Zimzodra, who made a number of fine stops, was selected as the away team’s top player.
Whitley are in action next weekend when they travel to Ice Sheffield to take on the Sheffield Spartans on Saturday, October 4.
The next home game is on Sunday, October 12, when Warriors host Sheffield at Hillheads in a game that is scheduled to face-off at 5pm.