Warriors end the league on a high

Billingham Stars v Whitley Warriors, NIHL North Division 1, Billingham Forum, 11 March 2018
Billingham Stars v Whitley Warriors, NIHL North Division 1, Billingham Forum, 11 March 2018

Whitley Warriors had two games on the road over the course of the weekend as they travelled down to North Wales to face Deeside on Saturday before a shorter trip to Teesside on Sunday when Warriors took on the Billingham Stars in their final league game of the campaign.

Warriors enjoyed their travels on Saturday evening as Whitley were able to come away from Wales with a 9-5 success after 60 minutes of hockey. Jordan Barnes collected the Man of the Match award for Warriors for his hatrick while Ben Richards and Dean Holland both picked up 3 points during the course of the contest.

Warriors then made the short journey down the A19 to face Billingham on Sunday evening, Whitley were a little short benched as they travelled without the likes of Sam Zajac, Dan Pye, Mark Turnbull and Adam Finlinson. The first period was quite a physical one that Billingham were able to edge by 2 goals to 1, Warriors goal coming from import Phil Edgar who netted a powerplay marker.

The middle session of play saw Jack Emerson extend Stars lead to 3-1 early on before Warriors surged back into the game with a Shaun Kippin strike into the top corner and a a goal from Ben Richards when he picked up the rebound to his own shot and guided the puck past James Flavell in the Billingham net.

Stars were then able to go onto grab two quick goals of their own which saw the home side restore their two goal cushion with a 5-3 lead.

It was at this point Warriors made the decision to switch their netminders with youngster Jordan Boyle replacing Richie Lawson in goal. Boyle made a couple of smart stops soon after entering the game, however, Stars were soon back on the scoresheet as Sykes and Emerson grabbed further strikes.

Warriors were creating openings at the other end of the ice though which saw Ross Douglass test the reflex’s of James Flavell while Dean Holland fired narrowly wide having skilfully evaded the home sides defence with some smart play.

Referee Robin Elliott threw Jordan Barnes and Michael Bowman out of the game late in the second period for checking to the head and high sticking in separate incidents which saw both sides mix their line combinations up a little.

The final session of play saw Warriors go on an early powerplay when Stars Matthew Campbell was sent to the sin bin by the officials on duty and Whitley were able to grab a goal through Phil Edgar which saw them trail 7-4 with over 16 minutes in the contest.

Whitley went onto generate a great number of shots on the Billingham net however James Flavell pulled out a number of outstanding saves to prevent Warriors from grabbing any further goals in the final Tyne Tees derby of the season in NIHL North Division 1 league action.

Whitley ‘Man of the Match’ went to player/coach David Longstaff while Stars youngster Jack Emerson was chosen as the home side’s best player on the night.

Whitley now go into the Championship Play Offs next weekend (March 17/18) knowing they will be facing the Telford Tigers however at the time of writing it is not known which days the home and away legs will be played on.