Warriors in the play-off picture after victory over Manchester

Callum Queenan, left, scoring the second goal for Warriors watched by Callum Watson behind the net. Picture by Colin Edwards
Callum Queenan, left, scoring the second goal for Warriors watched by Callum Watson behind the net. Picture by Colin Edwards

Whitley Warriors’ sole game last weekend saw Simon Leach’s side take on Manchester Minotaurs on home ice on Sunday evening.

Warriors had a full roster available with ‘D’ man Dan Harris coming back into the squad after missing the previous weekend’s 4-4 draw with Blackburn Hawks.

The game got off to a great start from the Warriors point of view as Jamie Tinsley put the home side ahead short-handed after two minutes when his speculative shot from distance bounced high up into the air off Minotaurs netminder Nicole Jackson before dropping down into the goal with the goalie unaware of just where the puck was.

Whitley extended their lead six minutes later as youngster Callum Queenan grabbed his second of the season when he fired home impressively from close range after deceiving the Manchester defence.

Warriors were certainly having the better of the opening period of action and Harry Harley made it 3-0 after some precise build up play from linemates Adam Reynolds and Jamie Tinsley after 12 minutes.

Whitley continued to create plenty of offensive openings at the start of the second period and blue liner Dan Harris made it 4-0 when he scored a powerplay marker just three minutes into the middle.

Home captain DJ Good made it 5-0 just before the half hour mark after Minotaurs had been unable to clear their own defensive zone.

Manchester opted to switch their goaltenders at this point with young back-up netminder Harry Greaves taking over from Jackson.

Jackson wasn’t at her best against Warriors as the talented female goalie conceded five from the 21 shots faced.

The change did not halt Warriors’ scoring streak, though, as just six minutes after the change a cross ice pass from Reynolds found Harley in space at the back post and he was able to tap the puck into the net.

Warriors were put under a little pressure towards the end of the second period though as DJ Good was given a minor penalty for slashing and on the resulting powerplay Manchester almost got on the scoresheet when Joe Greaves hit the bar with a powerful strike from distance.

Warriors continued to run into penalty trouble at the start of the third period as Jordan Barnes and Paul Matthews were sent to the sin bin for tripping and holding respectively.

Minotaurs made the most of their two-man advantage when John Murray scored after 45 minutes to deny Whitley netminder Richie Lawson a possible shut out.

Whitley went on to get their seventh goal of the game with under two minutes left when veteran poacher Karl Culley shot past Greaves with youngster Ben Richards and DJ Good picking up the assists.

Warriors’ man of the match was goaltender Lawson, who has been in superb form of late, while Manchester’s best player was import forward Lukas Zeman, who showed some superb stick handling at times though he struggled to get the better of Whitley’s disciplined defensive unit.

The victory sees Warriors move up into fourth placein the Moralee Conference, a point ahead of play-off rivals Sutton Sting, although they have a game in hand.

After the win, Leach said: “We didn’t play to our full potential but we’ve won the game and that’s all that matters at this stage of the season, getting those points on the board.

“I felt the game was a little flat and we over-passed the puck a little, however, we were never really in any trouble and as I’ve said it is the result that counts.

“We played 13 forwards and seven ‘D’ men out there, so everyone is getting an opportunity, all the young lads are getting ice time and Kyle (H Ross), Callum (Queenan), Callum (Read) and Ben (Richards) are all improving, and that’s due to the ice time we’ve been giving them.

“We’ve got two games left now and we’ve got to win those and see what happens from there.”

Whitley’s next game is an away fixture in the NIHL North Moralee Conference against the Manchester Minotaurs next Sunday before they end their Conference campaign on Sunday, March 16, against Telford Titans on home ice at Hillheads.