Whitley Warriors were on the wrong end of an 8-4 scoreline when they made the short trip down the A19 to Teesside on Sunday evening.
Despite having a strong squad to select from, it was not the North Tynesiders’ night as Billingham Stars won the NIHL Division 1 derby.
The visitors opted to start Jordan Boyle in goal following a number of impressive displays from the youngster in recent weeks.
And they started the game positively as Niall Simpson went close early on as they matched the Stars in the opening exchanges with Ben Richards, Dean Holland and Callum Watson all asking questions of the Billingham defence.
But the game turned in the 11th minute when Warriors’ Josh Maddock and David Longstaff were penalised and the home side made the most of their powerplay and grabbed two quick goals through Michael Bowman and Jack Watkins.
They added a third when import Daniel Palmebjork fired past Boyle from close range after 15 minutes of action.
Warriors got a powerplay of their own on 18 minutes when Billingham’s Ross Hanlon was sent to the box for holding and Whitley’s specialist team made the most of their man advantage when Richards applied the finishing touch at the back post after some nice build up play from Warriors’ specialist unit.
And they quickly got another powerplay chance right at the end of the first period, but they were unable to take their chance on this occasion.
Stars increased their advantage to 5-1 early in the second period through goals from Dennis Bostrum and Chris Sykes, at which point Warriors opted to replace Boyle with Richie Lawson.
Seconds later Warriors were on the scoresheet when Richards found the back of the net after an initial shot from skipper Holland.
But Stars’ offence continued to cause problems for the Whitley defence and grabbed two further goals through Palmebjork and centre man Callum Davies.
Warriors still had plenty of fight in them with Andre Payette giving everything he had for his side every time he came out onto the ice, and it was Whitley’s DJ Good who grabbed the game;s next goal with a smart finish from close range to put the scoreline at 7-3 with 35 minutes on the clock.
That was not the end of the scoring in the period, though, as Michael Elder fired home after 38 minutes for the home side.
The third period saw Warriors import Andre Payette and Thomas Keeley come to blows virtually on top of the Billingham net. Both were handed penalties by the officials with Payette being ejected from the game for his part in the fracas.
Minutes later Watson and Chris Sykes spent some time in the sin bin after the two forwards exchanged blows.
Warriors grabbed the only goal of the third period late on through DJ Good as the game finished 8-4 in Billingham’s favour.
Warriors’ man of the match went to the dependable blueliner Joe Stamp, with import forward Palmebjork being chosen as the best Billingham player on the night.
Warriors are next in action on Sunday when Telford Tigers visit Hillheads for a league encounter. Whitley will be looking to pick up the points against Telford to aid their push for the end of the season play-offs.