Warriors into play-offs with win over Telford Titans

Whitley Warriors Callum Watson in action against Telford Titans at Hillheads. Picture by Colin Edwards
Whitley Warriors Callum Watson in action against Telford Titans at Hillheads. Picture by Colin Edwards
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Whitley Warriors secured their place in the end of season play-offs with a 11-0 win over Telford Titans at Hillheads on Sunday evening.

The home side went into the game knowing a victory would guarantee them a place in the finals weekend at Dumfries in April.

Warriors created chances from the opening face-off and just four minutes in a precise pass from teenage forward Callum Queenan found Callum Watson unmarked in front of goal and he lifted the puck over netminder Sam Gospel to make it 1-0.

Whitley continued to create openings in the first period, however, Gospel was in superb form as he made a number of smart stops to thwart Warriors’ offensive efforts.

They did manage to beat Gospel on a couple of occasions towards the end of the opening session, but the frame of the goal came to Titans’ rescue as a blast from the blue line by Christian Johnson was tipped onto the net by Daniel Murdy which clipped the post while captain DJ Good hit the bar.

But 41 seconds into the second period Warriors were able to increase their lead when Adam Reynolds got the better of Gospel.

Warriors continued to create numerous offensive opportunities and two quick-fire goals from Ben Richards and Watson saw them lead 4-0 at the 34-minute mark.

Then Mark Good picked up a two-minute penalty for hooking which saw Titans go on the powerplay,

But they struggled to make any in-roads on the Whitley defence, despite having the man advantage.

And a swift Warriors counter attack resulted in DJ Good netting a short handed marker after some slick interplay between the No.9 and his line-mate Karl Culley.

Warriors went on the powerplay themselves shortly afterwards when Titans’ Berwyn Hughes was given two minutes in the sin bin for clipping.

And the powerplay unit quickly clicked into gear and Harry Harley lit the lamp to make it 6-0 to the home side after two sessions of play.

Whitley continued to press the Telford defence in the third period of as Titans’ small bench tired and Martin Crammond made it 7-0 after 43 minutes when his low shot found its way into the back of the net.

With Warriors in command, coach Simon Leach elected to give back up goaltender Joe Harley some game time late on when he replaced Richie Lawson with 15 minutes remaining.

Telford did test Harley on a few occasions, however, the majority of the action was at the other end of the ice where Whitley pummelled Titans’ goal.

DJ Good grabbed his second of the game on 51 minutes after being set up by veteran forward Culley.

Just a minute later Watson completed his hat-trick when he fired home a rebound after Gospel had smartly saved a Josh Maddock effort.

Culley made it 10-0 on 54 minutes when he applied the finishing touch after some superb work from youngster Ben Richards.

Warriors then ran into penalty trouble late on when defence man Rob Wilson was given two minutes for holding, however, despite being a man down The home side still looked dangerous going forward and 16-year-old Kyle H Ross got his first goal of his senior career when he found the back of the net to the delight of the large crowd in attendance at Hillheads.

Warriors’ 11-0 success sees them qualify for the end of season play-offs ahead of rivals Sutton Sting.

Warriors’ man of the match was alternate captain Jamie Tinsley while the visiting goaltender Sam Gospel, who faced an incredible 80 shots, was deservedly chosen as Titans’ best player on the night.

After the contest, Whitley coach Leach said: “We were a little below par in the first period, however, after that we stepped it up, Telford got a bit tired and we were able to claim the victory we needed.

“We played four lines all night so all the lads got plenty of ice time and as young Kyle Ross was picking up some shifts across different lines we were hoping he would be able to grab his first goal at this level and he did so towards the end when he was up front with Adam Reynolds when we were short handed.

“Overall we are very happy to have qualified for the play-offs as that was one of our aims at the start of the season.

“We have worked hard to achieve that and we will play Solway in the semi final at their own rink, however, we will go up there with no fear and we will have a game plan that will hopefully work out.”

In preparation for the play-off weekend at Solway Sharks’ Dumfries Ice Bowl in mid-April, Whitley have arranged two challenge games against the Billingham Stars.

The home match-up is set to be played on Sunday, March 30, face-off 5pm, with the away game the following weekend on Teesside.