Whitley Warriors secured a narrow 2-1 win over Sutton Sting at Hillheads on Sunday evening.
The home side went into the game short at the back as blue liners Harry Harley, Liam Smedley, Scott Cooper and Joe Stamp were all unable to take to the ice.
However, David Longstaff’s side were still able to ice five blue liners and three forward lines for the majority of the contest, showing just how much depth there is in the roster at present.
Both sides created chances in the early stages, but it was the visitors who grabbed the game’s first goal when Ryan Johnson fired home with nine minutes on the clock, the assists going to import Sergevs Jegorovs and alternate captain James Spurr.
Warriors changed the game around in the 18th minute when they netted two goals in just 38 seconds of play.
Callum Watson grabbed Whitley’s first goal of the evening when he fired home at the second attempt, having seen his first effort cannon against the post.
Watson then played a part in Warriors’ second as he picked up the assist as DJ Good lit the lamp with a powerful effort.
Whitley had to go on the penalty kill in the second period after referee Emmerson had sent Jordan Barnes into the sin bin on a boarding call.
Warriors’ specialist team were able to thwart Sting’s offensive moves and successfully kill off the penalty.
Callum Queenan went close for Warriors but Sutton netminder Dmitri Zimozdra was able to thwart the youngster’s effort.
In the early stages of the final period, Warriors almost extended their lead when Dan Pye’s powerful blast from the blue line was just kept out by the impressive Zimozdra, who was at the top of his game.
Whitley had the better of the third period, despite having to adjust their lines when teenage forward Queenan had to leave the ice due to injury.
Sutton were still in the game and the visitors pulled their goaltender late on in a bid to get the equaliser, but Warriors were able to see the game out and collect the victory to consolidate second place in the NIHL North Division 1 table.
Young Kyle Ross was named Warriors’ man of the match for an energetic display in which he gave everything he had for the cause, while Sutton goalie Dmitri Zimozdra was selected as the visitors’ top performer.
After the contest, Warriors goal scorer DJ Good said: “It was a close game that could have gone either way.
“We were missing a few bodies but we still played good three-line hockey. Everyone upped their game defensively to grind out another win against a very good team.”
Whitley are in action at the weekend when they take on Sheffield Spartans on the road on Sunday in a game that gets under way at 2.15pm at Ice Sheffield.
Warriors’ next home game is on Sunday, February 21, when Sheffield Senators visit Tyneside for a league game that gets under way at the normal face-off time of 5pm.