Whitley Warriors suffer play-off heartache

Adam Reynolds is pushed into the net after scoring the third goal for Whitley Warriors. Picture by Colin Edwards
Adam Reynolds is pushed into the net after scoring the third goal for Whitley Warriors. Picture by Colin Edwards

Whitley Warriors were beaten by eventual trophy winners Solway Sharks in the NIHL North play-off semi-finals on Saturday.

Warriors Coach Simon Leach was able to choose from an extensive roster as the only players missing from the line-up were defencemen Nathan Ryder and Callum Read.

Warriors took the first penalty of the contest after five minutes of play when blue liner Josh Maddock was given two minutes in the sin bin for delaying the game.

Whitley were able to successfully kill off that penalty, however, Solway took the lead four minutes later when Craig Thurston fired past Richie Lawson in the Warriors goal.

Solway then took their first penalty of the match on 11 minutes, which saw Whitley go on the powerplay and a re-jigged specialist unit grabbed an equaliser when Jamie Tinsley fired home after being nicely set up by Callum Watson and Dan Harris.

But Sharks regained the lead on 15 minutes when Stevie Moore grabbed a powerplay marker, and Solway led 4-1 at the end of the opening period thanks to a further strike from Craig Thurston and a goal from defenceman Frazer Goldie.

Warriors were dealt another blow towards the end of the first session when Harris had to leave the ice due to injury and the skilful blue liner was unable to play any further part in the game.

Whitley created plenty of chances early on in the second period and Watson got a goal back three minutes in when he got the better of Sharks goaltender Gary Russell.

Adam Reynolds then went close on two occassions, however, it was Solway who grabbed two goals midway through the second period when Struan Tonnar and Iain Bowie lit the lamp in quick succession which saw Sharks hold a 6-2 lead after 40 minutes of end to end hockey.

Warriors got their third goal of the game on 49 minutes when Reynolds netted a powerplay marker, and shortly afterwards Harry Harley went close but netminder Russell was able to deny him with a accomplished save.

Whitley were then presented with another powerplay opportunity when Connor Henderson was penalised for tripping, however, they were unable to make their man advantage count.

Despite giving everything they had Whitley could not find a way back into the game and Solway advanced to the final thanks to 6-3 scoreline.

Sharks went on to lift the Play-Off Trophy on Sunday afternoon when they got the better of the Blackburn Hawks by 2-0.

Whitley skipper DJ Good said after the semi-final defeat: “The result wasn’t good but everyone worked hard.

“It could have gone either, when it was 1-1 anything could have happened, we could have just edged it but they got away from us and given they haven’t got any weaknesses in their team it was always going to be extremely difficult once we were a few goals down.

“Dan Harris, who is one of our best ‘D’ men got injured during the first period and we missed him, and then were then a little bit weaker at the back.

“We seemed to be on the wrong end of a lot of the calls, but at the end of the day the better team won.”

Man of the match for Warriors was goalscorer Adam Reynolds while Iain Bowie was chosen as Sharks top player during the contest.

Warriors’ 2013-14 season is now complete and the new campaign is likely to get under way in early September, though there will be regular updates throughout the close season both in the News Guardian and also on Warriors’ website www.whitleywarriors.net