Ultimate Windows sponsored Billingham Stars

BILLINGHAM STARS came out on both ends of two very close games this weekend, a defeat by the odd goal in seven against Solway Sharks in the North Cup on Saturday was followed up by an overtime victory over Nottingham Lions in National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 at the Forum on Sunday.

Billingham’s North Cup trip to Dumfries got off to the best possible start when Joe Walls found the back of the net in the third minute, but the hosts were back on level terms just two minutes later through Ruairi Lockerbie. Looking more confident than on their previous road trip, the Stars moved ahead through captain Michael Elder with Sharks’ Richard Bentham sitting out an interference call. They could not hang on for the buzzer however, and Solway had the game tied back up with just 35 seconds remaining when Callum Boyd found his mark.

An end-to-end second session sparked into life when Chris Sykes returned to the ice after a stray stick to the stomach to nose the visitors ahead once more in the 32nd minute. A late rally from the home side swung the pendulum back in their favour however, as Lockerbie and Gordon Horne scored in the final three minutes to send the teams back into the dressing room with the Sharks a goal to the good. Horne’s marker, with just a second remaining on the clock, sparked a bout of fisticuffs between Billingham’s new defenceman Patriks Grigors and Solway’s Ross Murray, both men picking up 5-minute major penalties for fighting.

The third stanza saw both teams go out for the win, but neither side could find a way past Thomas Brown and Jordan Mclaughlin in the Stars and Sharks nets respectively, Solway surviving a late 2+2 penalty against Boyd to hang on for the 4-3 win and retain top spot in the Cup table.

Man-of-the-Match for the Stars was Thomas Brown.

Sharks Stats:

Ruairi Lockerbie 2+0; Callum Boyd 1+2; Gordon Horne 1+0; Scott Crane 0+1; Ross Murray 0+1; Richard Bentham 0+1

SOG: Jordan Mclaughlin 22 (5 / 10 / 7)

Stars Stats:

Joe Walls 1+0; Chris Sykes 1+0; Michael Elder 1+0; James Moss 0+1; Ben Greenhalgh 0+1; James Hellens 0+1; Jack Emerson 0+1

SOG: Thomas Brown 32 (11 / 11 / 10)

 

Nottingham Lions arrived on Teesside on Sunday boasting a full bench, and they succeeded in frustrating a largely ineffective Stars offensive unit in the first twenty. All of the early pressure was confined to the Lions defensive zone, but youngster Matthew Bloor remained largely untroubled in the Nottingham net. Against the run of play, the visitors opened the scoring in the eighth minute when James Shaw was left free out front to one-time home a Louie Newell pass. Despite the setback, Billingham continued to press but the closest they came was a Michael Elder wrist shot in the final minute that hit the post.

The frustration continued in the second period, Bloor not tested enough to make Nottingham feel uncomfortable. Indeed the visitors could have gone further ahead in the 26th minute when they had a ‘goal’ ruled out that was deemed to have hit the crossbar.

The solitary marker still the difference going into the final stanza, the Lions resistance finally broke in the 47th minute when Grigors – on his home debut – fired past Bloor from just inside the point. The goal did not provide the springboard that the Stars perhaps hoped for however, and both netminders held firm to send the game into overtime. Three-on-three opened up the play significantly and just 43 seconds into the five-minute extra period Ben Davison surged forward and rifled his shot past Bloor to grab the extra point for Billingham.

Man-of-the-Match for the Stars was Ben Davison.

Stars Stats:

Ben Davison 1+0; Patriks Grigors 1+0; James Moss 0+1; Chris Sykes 0+1; Callum Wilkinson 0+1

SOG: Thomas Brown 32 (10 / 11 / 10 / 1)

Lions Stats:

James Shaw 1+0; Ellis Ricci 0+1; Louie Newell 0+1

SOG: Matthew Bloor 38 (10 / 17 / 10 / 1)

 

Speaking after Sunday’s game, coach Stephen Foster was pleased with a weekend of solid effort:

“Tonight we knew that the Lions would come and play hard, we didn’t take this as being an easy two points. The boys were up for the game and wanted to carry on the momentum from last night, where we could easily have come away with the win. Unfortunately we were getting the shots in but they weren’t of the quality we would like. Overall we got what our effort deserved in the end, Ben Davison took his opportunity really well to bag us the points.”

The return National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 fixture is next Sunday 31st October in Nottingham.

 

Weekend Results:

NIHL(N)1:

Sheffield Scimitars 8 Widnes Wild 0

Billingham Stars 2 Nottingham Lions 1 (after overtime)

Blackburn Hawks 6 Whitley Warriors 4

North Cup:

Solway Sharks 4 Billingham Stars 3

Midlands Cup:

Solihull Barons 5 Widnes Wild 7

 

Image gallery: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.277729884357179&type=3 

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