On Sunday evening Whitley Warriors pout eight goals past play-off contenders Solihull Barons in their NIHL North Division 1 contest at Hilheads.
The home side went into the game with a strong roster for player-coach David Longstaff to select from, though influential teenage forward Callum Queenan was ruled due to injury.
From the opening face-off it was clear this clash was going to be a feisty affair and there were three altercations in the opening 12 minutes as Warriors’ Andre Payette showed just what a tough game he could play as he and Barons player-coach Perry Doyle exchanged blows.
Whitley took the lead on 13 minutes thanks to a strike from skipper Jamie Tinsley.
But the Barons were behind for less than a minute though as Richard Crowe drew the scores level when he fired past Warriors netminder Richie Lawson with an unassisted marker.
Whitley soon regained the lead when young blue liner Liam Smedley’s shot evaded Solihull netminder Hewitt and found its way into the back of the net.
Callum Watson almost extended the lead seconds later but Hewitt was able to thwart the speedy winger.
In an action packed opening period, Warriors ‘D’ man Joe Stamp made it 3-1 to the home side with 16 minutes on the clock with a sweet strike, and then the in-form Dean Holland grabbed Whitley’s fourth with a close range effort.
Whitley got a powerplay opportunity shortly into the middle period and they made the most of their man advantage when Watson found the back of the net with Tinsley and DJ Good picking up the assists.
A minute later Payette and Doyle dropped the gloves for the third time and were sent back to the dressing room for fighting by referee Wardell.
The game was then halted so Whitley’s Scott Cooper could receive treatment for a serious injury after he collided into the boards.
When the contest resumed Barons were able to grab two goals when imports Niklas Ottosson and Tomas Janak both lit the lamp, however Warriors made it 7-3 before the 40-minute mark thanks to a goal from stalwart DJ Good.
Both sides grabbed a goal in the final period with Good netting his second strike of the evening for Warriors while Barons alternate captain Josh Bruce scored for the visiting team.
Warriors gave some ice time to squad players such as Alan Yarrow and Phil Pritchard during the third period as the coaching staff made full use of the squad of players they had available to them.
Warriors man of the match was Tinsley for a hard-working and committed display over the 60 minutes of action.
After the contest, Warriors assistant coach Dave Holland said: “It was a good start to the game for us with Jordan [Barnes] and Andre dropping the gloves, that really set the tone for the whole game.
“We dominated the game early on and grabbed four good goals in the first period.”Andre did a great job for his team and you can’t take that away from him.
“Both teams were off the ice for a period of time following the unfortunate injury to Scott, and the stoppage changed the game a little.
“Barons were really up for it after the restart, they looked sharp and got a couple of goals and we had to step it up again.
“Late on Philly [Pritchard] and Rocket [Alan Yarrow] got some as much ice time as we could give them.
“We’ve got to be looking to prepare for the play-offs in the upcoming games, we are hopeful of having Callum Queenan back for the play-offs if at all possible, as having Callum missing from our line-up has upset our lines a little in the last few games.”
Warriors’ last home game of the season is on Sunday, March 6, face-off 5pm, when Solway Sharks travel to Tyneside for a NIHL North Division 1 encounter.
Everyone associated with Whitley Warriors said they wished Scott Cooper all the best following his injury in the game.