Whitley Warriors made the journey south to Ice Sheffield to take on Sutton Sting on Sunday afternoon.
Warriors were able to welcome Tommy Ralph, Richie Lawson and Jamie Tinsley all back into their line-up after the trio missed last weekend’s home game against Blackburn Hawks.
Young goaltender Mark Turnbull was selected to start the game in net after impressing on his full senior debut last weekend against the Hawks, with Richie Lawson acting as Warriors back-up netminder.
Warriors rotated five ‘d’ men throughout the contest and operated with three forward lines.
But they were without a number of their young players who were playing age group hockey at under-18 level.
Whitley made a promising start, however, it was the home side who netted the contest’s first goal when Chris Sykes fired home after five minutes of play with Simon Butterworth picking up the assist.
Warriors were not in arrears for long, though, as ‘d’ man Daniel Harris tied the game up at 1-1 on 15 minutes with a blast from the blue line which got the better of Sutton goalie Dmitri Zimzodra.
The visitors were on the penalty kill late in the first period and early in the second after Jordan Barnes was given a minor penalty for boarding, however, Warriors were able to successfully kill it off with Rob Wilson impressing when his side was short handed.
Whitley then took the lead after 29 minutes when Harris fired home his second goal of the game after some nice work from winger Callum Watson.
They continued to create openings in the latter stages of the middle period as all three of Warriors’ forward units were looking dangerous.
Jordan Barnes made it 3-1 on 38 minutes when he found the back of the net after the Sutton netminder Zimzodra could only palm out his initial shot, Martin Crammond and Tommy Ralph were both credited with assists on Barnes’ marker.
Warriors took a two-goal lead into the final session of play but Sutton had levelled the game up at 3-3 by the 45th minute thanks to two superbly taken Ryan Johnson goals for the home side.
Late in the game Whitley then ran into some penalty trouble when Daniel Murdy and Karl Culley were sent to the sin bin for interference and hooking respectively.
Warriors were able to keep the Sting powerplay at bay but Sutton took the lead on 55 minutes when import forward Movko fired home to the delight of the Sutton bench and their fans.
With little time left in the game Warriors coach Simon Leach opted to pull goalie Mark Turnbull to give his team the extra skater as they chased the equalising goal, however, despite their numerical advantage Warriors could not find a way past the impressive Zimzodra and Sutton claimed the two points on offer thanks to a victory by four goals to three.
Blue liner Daniel Harris was selected as Warriors man of the match while Ryan Johnson was chosen as Sutton’s best player on the night.
Warriors skipper DJ Good said: “We played well and we were unlucky not to come away with anything.
“Young Mark (Turnbull) in goal was strong again but we just didn’t capitalise on our chances.
“We should have won the game with given we were 3-1, however, they are a good team and hopefully we will bounce back and get a win next Saturday against Sheffield Spartans.”
Warriors’ sole game next weekend is an away fixture against Spartans on Saturday in Sheffield, which is Whitley’s last fixture in 2013 as they have a fortnight away from the ice over Christmas and the New Year.
Fans are reminded, though, that the club is holding a Legends Night on December 27 at 42nd Street in Whitley Bay, when current head coach Simon Leach will present a fun filled evening that will include a question and answer session with a host of Warrior greats such as Terry Matthews, Paul Matthews, John Iredale, Martin King, Dave Ross and Alfie Miller.