Warriors fight back to beat Blackburn

Whitley Warriors v Blackburn Hawks, NIHL, 3 February 2013, Whitley Bay Ice Rink
Whitley Warriors v Blackburn Hawks, NIHL, 3 February 2013, Whitley Bay Ice Rink

WHITLEY Warriors were in action twice last weekend as they took on Trafford Metros away from home on Saturday evening before hosting the Blackburn Hawks at Hillheads the following night. Warriors travelled to Trafford with 19 players and two goalies though regulars Mark Good, Christian Johnson and Ali Brummitt were unable to make the trip.

Young netminder Joe Harley who picked up the man of the match accolade last weekend versus Billingham started the Trafford game in goal for Whitley. However Harley was unable to prevent Metros from taking a 4-0 lead after 27 minutes of play thanks to goals from Sean Day, Joe Greaves (2) and John Murray.

Warriors then got their own game going and Whitley netted three times in a four minute spell during the middle session of play. Whitley player/coach Garry Dowd blasted home the first goal on the powerplay before Jamie Tinsley and Jordan Barnes also lit the lamp.

Trafford made it 5-3 after 46 minutes of play when Jared Dickinson scored a superb individual goal on the powerplay. Whitley continued to battle away and Jamie Tinsley netted after 57 minutes which gave Warriors hope of a positive result however Trafford’s Joe Greaves confirmed Metros win with a late goal.

On Sunday evening Warriors were able to welcome Christian Johnson and Mark Good back into their line as Whitley took on the Blackburn Hawks on home ice. Warriors created several opportunities in the opening period of play however Whitley just couldn’t find a way past Hawks inform netminder Daniel Brittle. Blackburn led 1-0 at the end of the first session of play as David Meikle fired home a powerplay marker 11 minutes in.

Hawks extended their lead shortly into the second period when import winger Ivo Dimitrijevs got the better of Warriors netminder Joe Harley. However Whitley responded just 20 seconds later when player/coach Garry Dowd fired home from the blue line to keep his Warriors side firmly in the contest.

Blackburn were still creating plenty of openings though and youngster Myles Dacres made it 3-1 after 33 minutes of the game, once again Warriors responded almost immediately as DJ Good netted for Whitley just 30 seconds after the Dacres strike.

Warriors gave everything they had at the start of the third period and Whitley were rewarded for their endeavour and commitment when Callum Watson made it 3-3 with an extremely well taken goal after 50 minutes of play. Hawks regained their lead quickly though as Aaron Davies somehow scrambled the puck past Joe Harley to make it 4-3 to Blackburn.

Blackburn lost their impressive goaltender Daniel Brittle after 54 minutes of play as the Hawks netminder was ejected from the game on a misconduct penalty after arguing over a minor tripping penalty that referee Wardell had given against him. Brittle’s absence meant back up goalie Stu Ashton had to take to the ice for Hawks for the last few minutes of the game.

Shortly after Brittle’s departure Whitley took the brave decision to pull their own netminder Joe Harley as Warriors coach Dave Holland looked for a way to get his side back into the contest. The tactic worked brilliantly as Whitley’s six outskaters set up Mark Good who fired past Ashton to tie the game up at 4-4.

It seemed that Warriors were going to take a point from the contest as time ticked down however Whitley winger Callum Watson popped up to net the game winning goal with only ten seconds of the match remaining to the delight of the large crowd that had come along to Hillheads for the game.

Whitley coach Dave Holland gave his views on the Blackburn game: “Really good result, excellent result, especially against a team like Blackburn.

“Coming back from behind makes a massive difference and to beat a good quality team like Blackburn is huge for my team.”

Dave went onto speak about his tactical decision to pull netminder Joe Harley for a sixth skater towards the end of the third period: “We’d been practising using the sixth skater during the week and practising how we would work it. We got six against five and I was pleased with the outcome obviously.”

Dave finally spoke about the excellent support Warriors received from their fans: “It was really great for the fans to get right behind the team tonight, it makes a massive difference. There was a real good crowd in, it was loud and there was a drummer I think it makes a difference to the team as it gets them geed up.”

Whitley are only in action once next weekend as Warriors travel to Ice Sheffield to take on the Sutton Sting on Sunday afternoon in a game that is scheduled to face off at 2.30pm. Warriors next home game is on Sunday, February 17 (face off 5pm) when Coventry Blaze make the trip to Tyneside to take on Whitley.