Narrow defeat for the Warriors at Billingham

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Whitley Warriors lost out in a narrow 5-4 overtime defeat to local rivals Billingham Stars at The Forum on Sunday.

Warriors soon found themselves shorthanded as Watson was sidelined for interference on 1:01. Hard work from netminder Boyle and his defence ensured that Billingham did not take the lead but Whitley were restored to full strength for all of 71 seconds before forward Kyle Ross was punished for holding the stick.

Warriors continued to build momentum after their return to full strength and opened the scoring on 11:38 as Player-Coach David Longstaff tapped home forward Shaun Kippin’s rebounded shot.

Billingham gained a 5-on-3 power play when Barnes was made to sit out for unsportsmanlike conduct whilst Kippin was punished for a slashing offence against Latvian forward Kristers Bormanis. Although unable to score with two additional skaters, the Stars equalised 56 seconds after Whitley had killed both penalties, forward Michael Bowman firing from a faceoff into the bottom right corner.

Taking heart from this, forward Cain Taylor sent his team into the lead 24 seconds later, tapping in Bowman’s blue line shot to make it 2-1 at the end of the first period.

Billingham scored again early in bthe second period to make it 3-1, but Warriors pulled it back to 3-2 whenBarnes drilled the puck home on 24:19.

Warriors were soon handed a power play when Bormanis was punished for hooking and six minutes later, on 30:17, Watson found the net for 3-3 and suddenly it was game on again.

Whitley found the target over three minutes after Billingham returned to full strength when Zajac tapped the puck into the bottom left of Flavell’s net to give the visitors a 4-3 lead on 36:42.

Just over a minute later, forward James Moss was punished for tripping but the Stars remained unfazed and fired at Boyle who pulled off an outstanding save to keep his team ahead.

The netminder’s efforts were in vain, however, as moments later Sykes drove the puck beneath Boyle to claim his second shorthanded goal of the evening courtesy of talented young prospect Ethan Hehir, making it 4-4 at the second interval.

Gaining a power play on 42:41 when Protčenko made way for holding, Whitley frantically searched for a winning goal, with Campbell, Longstaff and Kippin amongst those battling against Billingham’s resolute defence.

However, they were unable to find a way through the home defence and as overtime unfolded Edgar missed a fantastic opportunity to hand Whitley two points before Sykes found Bormanis, who netted with ease on 62:51 to present the Stars with their first derby win of the season.