Whitley Warriors achieved a 6-1 win over Nottingham Lions at Hillheads on Sunday to move into fifth place ahead of Solihull Barons.
The game fast and furious, Whitley pounced on an early lead as left winger Ben Campbell opened the scoring thirty six seconds into the first period; forward DJ Good and defenceman Ross Connolly working with speed to assist. Almost scoring another on their second shift, the Warriors peppered netminder Miles Finney with shot after shot, enduring several misses before striking the bar.
When blue liner Lewis Jones was sidelined for crosschecking on 12:21, Nottingham found their successful penalty kill closely followed by the Warriors’ second goal as Campbell’s slap shot made it 2-0 on 15:40. Less than two minutes later, Latvian defenceman Rolands Gritāns unleashed a superb shot from just inside the blue line which was tapped in by Captain Dean Holland to add a third to Whitley’s tally. Feeling that a fourth goal was within touching distance, the Warriors persistently bombarded Finney who withstood the onslaught to keep the score line at 3-0 ahead of the second period.
Just fifty four seconds into the middle stanza, Holland made way for hooking but, untroubled by Nottingham’s advantage, the Warriors returned to full strength and quickly benefitted from a delayed penalty against Alternate Captain Kieran Raynor as forward Shaun Kippin buried the puck into the bottom left of Finney’s net on 23:15. Comfortable in their lead, the Warriors replaced shot stopper Richie Lawson with backup Jordan Boyle at the midpoint of the period to allow both netminders ice time. A late hit from Hopkins on 33:32 then awarded Whitley a power play but the home team could not capitalise. Buoyed by their defensive exploits, the Lions tried their luck ahead of the second interval but a collision caused import defenceman Ruslan Cernych to sustain a cut to his ear which brought Nottingham’s attack to a halt to leave their four-goal deficit unchanged.
Keen to beat Finney for a fifth time, the Warriors were placed on a power play in the early stages of the final period after a late hit from forward Connor Hardy but failed to make this opportunity count. Continuing to persevere however, Whitley netted just thirty six seconds after Hardy’s return to the ice as Watson coolly dispatched the puck with support from Good to make it 5-0 on 49:03. Calling a timeout, Nottingham reviewed their tactics and scored just over a minute later when Ruskin Hughes’ shot took a deflection into Boyle’s net. Instantly retaliating, Campbell and Alternate Captain Jordan Barnes worked together to assist Gritāns whose slick, long range shot completed Whitley’s 6-1 victory against the shortbenched Lions.