Warriors victorous in top of the table clash over Hawks

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Whitley Warriors have gone five points clear in the league after victory in their top-of-the-table clash with Blackburn Hawks.

Warriors went into the game with an extremely strong roster as captain Jamie Tinsley and the experienced Dean Holland were both passed fit to play after missing recent match ups due to injury.

Going into the game Warriors led the NIHL North Division 1 table by three points with opponents the Blackburn Hawks in second position.

Hawks were unbeaten in league action for around two years as Blackburn had not lost in a NIHL North game since midway through the 2013/14 campaign.

The game started at a fast pace, with both sides looking to grab the opening goal and with just under three minutes on the clock Blackburn took the lead when Aaron Davies forced the puck past Warriors goalie Richie Lawson from close range.

Warriors almost equalised on the powerplay six minutes later when a beautifully crafted move involving David Longstaff, DJ Good and Callum Watson saw Hawks netminder Danny Brittle pull off a superb save. Whitley continued to create openings and Callum Queenan also went close to grabbing Warriors first goal of the game.

Whitley did level the game up on their second powerplay opportunity of the evening when Longstaff (assisted by DJ Good and Dan Pye) netted a wrap around effort to the delight of the large crowd in attendance at Hillheads.

The first intermission was then taken a little early as player/coach Longstaff took to a blow to the face late in the 1st which saw blood on the ice.

Warriors did not let the unscheduled stoppage inconvenience them though as Callum Watson netted shortly after the restart with a well taken goal after some pleasing build up play from centre DJ Good and d man Harry Harley.

The middle stanza of action was goalless however DJ Good went close for Warriors when his close range effort was turned away by Hawks Danny Brittle.

The third period saw David Longstaff extend Warriors lead on 45 minutes, when he fired home a fine unassisted goal after some impressive stick handling had seen the veteran forward bamboozle the Hawks defence.

Blackburn got themselves back into the game on 53 minutes when Aaron Davies grabbed his second goal of the game with the assists being credited to Chris Arnone and Adam Brittle.

Hawks gave everything they had to preserve their long unbeaten run, however, Warriors played some superb disciplined hockey to retain the advantage and then late on Whitley were able to grab an empty net goal through David Longstaff which saw the home side claim a superb 4-2 victory over Blackburn.

Man-of-the-match for Warriors went to youngster Callum Queenan for his hard-working displa,y while Hawks goaltender Danny Brittle was chosen as the visitors top player during the contest.

Whitley face Blackburn again in a road game next weekend before they take on the Hawks once more on home ice on Sunda, December 20 (face off 5pm) in Warriors’ last home game of 2015.