Ultimate Windows sponsored Billingham Stars

BILLINGHAM STARS came away from a tough National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 double header weekend emptyhanded after a lacklustre defeat at Sheffield Scimitars on Saturday was followed by a battle royal at the Forum on Sunday that saw the Stars narrowly lose out to Widnes Wild.

Billingham’s frustrating weekend began with a boost with the news that Sheffield danger man Stanislav Lascek had moved down to Invicta Dynamos and would not be icing. A cagey first period ensued characterised by wayward passing from both sides. Neither team seemed capable of putting much together offensively, and it was no surprise when the clock counted out with no score on the board.

A mad five minutes at the start of the second period turned the game the way of the hosts. First Craig Elliott jabbed home a loose puck in the 22nd minute, Thomas Palmer doubling the lead four minutes later when he was left alone to lift the puck over netminder Thomas Brown from close range. Elliott bagged his second less than a minute later to put the Stars in a three-goal hole. They pulled one back with 38 seconds left on the session when captain Michael Elder capitalised on a mistake by Scimitars goaltender Thomas Hovell to make the final stanza an interesting one.

Like the first period, both sides seemed devoid of ideas in the third period and neither netminder saw too much rubber. With the buzzer nearing, Billingham pulled Brown with just over three minutes to play, but Palmer collected in the neutral zone after the Stars had lost possession and fired into the empty net for a 4-1 final score.

Man-of-the-Match for the Stars was Jack Emerson.

 

Scimitars Stats:

Craig Elliott 2+0; Thomas Palmer 2+0; Scott Morris 0+1; Elliott Knell 0+1; Thomas Hovell 0+1; Warren Tait 0+1

SOG: Thomas Hovell 26 (6 / 13 / 7)

Stars Stats:

Michael Elder 1+0; Chris Sykes 0+1; Callum Wilkinson 0+1

SOG: Thomas Brown 47 (17 / 17 / 13)

 

Looking to make amends back on home ice, Billingham piled the early pressure on against League newcomers Widnes on Sunday. Wild netminder Harrison Walker had to be on his game from the first puck drop, but it was the visitors with the opening goal with a classic sucker punch, Thomas Stubley finishing the counterattack with a precision shot past Brown. The Stars kept coming at their opponents, eventually clocking up 23 shots in the first session, but it took until the 18th minute to get back on level terms when Callum Wilkinson scrambled the puck home. A post-goal switch-off cost the home side dear as Widnes moved back in front just before the buzzer, Kieran Beach slotting home to leave the hosts inexplicably behind at the break.

Wild were more at the races in the middle stanza and opened up a gap when Player Coach Richard Haggar fired through Brown in the 23rd minute. Billingham picked up the pace once again and got themselves back into the game in the 33rd minute when Chris Sykes tipped in a Ben Davison blue line wrist shot.

A thoroughly entertaining game was finished by a slightly less intense third session that only got going once Sykes had tied the game up in the 51st minute, Joe Dowdle with the release pass to set Sykes on his way. Widnes had a road victory in mind however, and got what proved to be the game winner when Michael Gilbert squeezed the puck inside Brown’s near post with five minutes to play. The Billingham bench were unable to pull Brown until the clock was almost spent, and Wild held on to claim both points.

Man-of-the-Match for Billingham was Chris Sykes.

 

Stars Stats:

Chris Sykes 2+1; Callum Wilkinson 1+0; James Moss 0+2; Ben Davison 0+1; Joe Dowdle 0+1

SOG: Thomas Brown 34 (8 / 16 / 10)

Wild Stats:

Richard Haggar 1+1; Michael Gilbert 1+0; Thomas Stubley 1+0; Kieran Beach 1+0; Liam Charnock 0+2; Tristan Grimshaw 0+1

SOG: Harrison Walker 47 (23 / 16 / 8)

 

Speaking after Sunday’s game, coach Stephen Foster was pleased to see his side bounce back after Saturday’s performance, but bemoaned their lack of success in front of goal as Widnes came away with the points from the Forum:

“The boys did great tonight, it’s always frustrating though to put in so much effort and throw the kitchen sink at the opposition only to come out defeated. We didn’t play well last night so credit to the lads for putting up the performance they did. Harrison Walker played very well but we didn’t get enough traffic in front and we paid the price. Bar last night we’ve given our all in every game so I’m pleased we showed the character we did to tie the game up.”

Billingham have a break next weekend before returning for National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 fixtures against Blackburn Hawks and Solihull Barons the weekend of 16th and 17th October.

 

Weekend Results:

NIHL(N)1:

Solway Sharks 3 Whitley Warriors 2

Sheffield Scimitars 4 Billingham Stars 1

Whitley Warriors 9 Nottingham Lions 3

Billingham Stars 3 Widnes Wild 4

 

Image gallery available on the Stars Facebook page.

Photos courtesy of Linda Crabtree / Colin Edwards, CJE Photos as credited.