Whitley Warriors’ sole game of the weekend saw Simon Leach’s side up against local rivals the Billingham Stars in a NIHL North Moralee Conference encounter on Sunday evening.
Warriors were able to name new signing Harry Harley who had rejoined a few days earlier from English Premier League side Peterborough Phantoms in their line-up but veteran forward Karl Culley missed the game through injury.
The hosts started brightly, seeing off a two-minute penalty after Paul Matthews was sent to the penalty box for kneeing after six minutes, before Adam Reynolds netted in the ninth minute after nice build up play from linemates Harley and Jamie Tinsley.
Whitley had the better of the opening session of play and visiting netminder James Flavell saw plenty of shots come his way during the first 20 minutes of action.
They extended their lead after 30 minutes when teenage forward Callum Queenan netted his first ever goal at senior level with a strike from close range after Stars had been unable to clear the puck from their own defensive zone.
Billingham quickly hit back though when ex-Warrior Anthony Price fired past Richie Lawson just three minutes later.
Warriors started the final period on the front foot and four minutes into the session young Whitley winger Ben Richards managed to squeeze the puck past Flavell at the netminder’s near post to put the home side 3-1 up.
Warriors were now at the top of their game and just over a minute later Whitley alternate captain Tinsley lit the lamp with a powerful slap shot from distance to the delight of the large crowd in attendance at Hillheads for the final Tyne Tees derby match up of the 2013-14 regular campaign.
Billingham looked for a way back into the game and launched a number of their own offensive moves however Warriors made sure of victory on 52 minutes when Martin Crammond fired home his third goal of the season after being set up neatly by Harley and Callum Watson.
Whitley forward Jamie Tinsley was named as Warriors Man of the Match however youngsters Ben Richards and Callum Queenan both had excellent games and if the two teenage forwards continue to perform how they did against the Stars both players will continue to impress at senior level between now and the end of the season.
Warriors coach Simon Leach said: “We’ve had a good week in training and we’ve moved the lines around with Harry Harley coming back to the club.
“A lot of the youngsters got a lot of ice time tonight and they did really well. I thought Callum Queenan was outstanding for such a young lad.
“We were very good from Richie (Lawson) in nets to the forwards up top and with Karl Culley to come back into the line up we have a very good hockey team here.
“I think we made it very hard for Billingham tonight and then took over in the third period and I’m really happy with our efforts against Stars.”
Warriors victory sees Whitley sit in fifth position in the NIHL North Moralee Conference with 23 points from the 21 games that have been played, two points and one place below an end of season play off place.
Whitley are next in action on Sunday when Simon Leach’s side travel to Lancashire to take on the in form Blackburn Hawks in Conference action.
Warriors’ next home game is on Sunday, February 16, when Whitley take on the Sutton Sting in a NIHL North Conference game that will be sponsored by Clusters Bespoke Jewellery.