Whitley Warriors overcome Sutton Sting to stay top

Whitley Warriors' man of the match against Sutton Sting, Shaun Kippin.
Whitley Warriors' man of the match against Sutton Sting, Shaun Kippin.

Whitley Warriors remain top of the NIHL North Division 1 after a victory over Sutton Sting at Hillheads on Sunday evening.

The home side were at full strength other than the unavailable Dean Holland and Alex Lawson, who are both out injured.

Sting went into the match on the back of a 4-2 success on Saturday evening against Solihull Barons, but they were behind seven minutes in when Shaun Kippin netted a short handed effort after some excellent approach play from the lively Callum Watson.

Kippin almost made it 2-0 shortly afterwards but the visitors net minder Dmitri Zimzodra just kept the shot from Warriors number 11 from crossing the line.

Sting grabbed a short handed marker of their own on ten minutes when Shaun Ashton found the corner of the net with a powerful strike from just inside the blue line.

However, under 40 seconds later Warriors made the most of their own powerplay opportunity when skipper Jamie Tinsley scored after a flowing attacking move that saw superb contributions from both Kippin and player-coach David Longstaff.

Shortly into the middle period, Warriors’ Jordan Barnes and Sting’s Scott Glover traded blows after an altercation. Both were given four minutes in penalties.

Sutton drew level for a second time with 23 minutes on the clock when import Slavs Movko fired past Richie Lawson for the first even handed goal of the game.

The scores did not stay level for long, though, as the home side regained the lead just over a minute later when in-form winger Ben Richards grabbed his third of the season with a neat back post finish after being set up by the industrious Martin Crammond.

Both sides continued to create chances during the remainder of the middle session with Warriors’ Harry Harley almost grabbing the home side another goal with a powerful effort from just inside the blue line when his side had the man advantage.

The final period saw plenty of end to end action with the first goal of the session coming on 54 minutes when Ryan Johnson fired home a powerplay marker to tie the contest up at 3-3.

Warriors quickly re-grouped and Longstaff fired his side back into the lead four minutes later when he struck a sweet shot that got the better of the impressive Zimzodra in the Sting goal.

The visitors opted to pull their netminder late on and Whitley were able to tally an empty net goal through blue liner Harley which made the final score 5-3.

Shaun Kippin was selected as Warriors’ man of the match while goaltender Dmitri Zimzodra was chosen as the visitor’s top player during the match up.

Following the game, Whitley assistant coach Dave Holland said: “Another excellent result for us, we were up against a team that had three strong forward lines with an import on their first and third lines. So for us to play like we did against them and to outshoot them by 64 to 28 shots is fantastic.

“Everybody played tonight and that was always our plan to do that.

“Dan Pye took a knock, which saw Stu Tomlinson get extra ice time and he did well for us and did nothing wrong at all during his shifts out on the ice.

“We practice our systems week in and week out and when we got the lead late on we went very defensive as we didn’t need another goal, however, we then got a late goal when they pulled the netminder.

“To get to this stage of the season without conceding a defeat is really good for us.

“Dan Pye should be OK for our next game as well as we think he just has a dead leg and nothing too serious.”

Warriors’ next game is away to Sutton Sting on October 18.

Whitley’s next home game is the following weekend when they host local rivals Billingham Stars on Sunday, October 25, at Hillheads in the first Tyne-Tees derby of the season that is scheduled to face-off at 5pm.