Whitley Warriors entertained the Sheffield Steeldogs on Sunday evening on North Tyneside. Warriors were a little short benched as they were without a number of players including the influential duo of dependable d man Josh Maddock and free scoring import forward Phil Edgar.
Whitley started the game positively and took the lead 87 seconds into proceedings when Callum Watson got the better of Sheffield goaltender Dmitri Zimozdra to the delight of the loud home crowd in attendance. Warriors then ran into some penalty trouble with Dan Pye picking up a minor 2 minute penalty for kneeing and Jordan Barnes being thrown out of the game for a check from behind.
Warriors defended with everything they had to maintain their lead and kill off the Sheffield powerplay, goaltender Richie Lawson made a number of smart pad saves to preserve Warriors advantage. Later in the opening period of play Whitley came close to extending their lead when both Harry Harley and Dan Pye forced Zimozdra into smart saves with blasts from the blue line.
Steeldogs were again given further opportunities on the powerplay towards the end of the opening stanza of action when Callum Watson and Harry Harley were sent to the sin bin by referee Alsopp. Warriors used their shortened bench to great effect to kill off the 5 on 3 powerplay with the versatile Dean Holland switching back into defence and after 20 minutes of hockey Whitley held a slender 1-0 lead against the league leaders.
Sheffield drew the scores level on 24 minutes when Andrew Hirst got the better of Warriors in form netminder Richie Lawson. Dan Pye was penalised for boarding 8 minutes later and Steeldogs made their man advantage count when player/coach Ben Morgan fired his side into the lead for the first time in the contest. Morgan was again on the scoresheet 3 minutes later when he found the back of the net from close range with Thomas Relf picking up the assist on this occasion.
Warriors reshuffled their lines a little going into the 3rd period of play with Kyle Ross moving back into defence and Martin Crammond reverting to a forward role. A superb move involving Shaun Kippin and David Longstaff saw Ben Richards presented with a great opportunity in front of goal and the Whitley number 64 made no mistake and fired his side back into the contest, a well deserved goal given the energy and tenacity Warriors roster had brought to the game.
Two minutes later Warriors were presented with a powerplay opportunity when Sheffield d man Lewis Bell was given a 2 minute delay of the game penalty. Whitley set up their powerplay unit however import Milan Kolena was able to net a shorthanded effort for Sheffield after a defensive mix up from Whitley let the skilled forward in on goal.
Warriors pulled netminder Richie Lawson late on in effort to claw their way back into the game, Dean Holland came close to netting for Whitley however goalie Zimozdra was able to parry the shot to safety and Steeldogs took the points back to South Yorkshire thanks to a 4-2 victory.
Kyle Ross was named Warriors Man of the Match for an accomplished display in both defence and attack while Cameron Brownly was named as the Steeldogs best player on the night.
Whitley are back in action on home ice next Sunday when local rivals the Billingham Stars visit Tyneside for a NIHL North Division 1 encounter.