Weekend Report: Stars v Comets 061121 / Stars v Sharks 071121
Billingham Stars could not contain their Scottish visitors over the weekend as both Dundee Comets in the North Cup and Solway Sharks in National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 took home the spoils of victory.
Coach Stephen Foster elected to give Jacob Hammond the start between the pipes on Saturday, and he was busy from early on in the game as Dundee started the brighter. Indeed it was the Comets who opened the scoring in the fourth minute as Bernard Brown fired through traffic past an unsighted Hammond. The Stars remained under the cosh somewhat, and it was no surprise when Brown doubled the lead on the power play in the eighth minute. Billingham were wasteful with the chances that did come their way, unable to make Dundee netminder Toni Tammi work too hard.
It was a similar story in the opening minutes of the second session as the Comets continued to press, John Nolan moving them further ahead with a shot off Hammond’s skate in the 26th minute. Just 15 seconds later Joel Gautschi found the top shelf, and when Drew Rumgay placed the puck past Hammond’s glove the Stars found themselves staring down the barrel before the game’s halfway point. A time out steadied the ship, but the ‘goals for’ column remained stubbornly on zero going into the final twenty.
A rocket of a one-timer from Dundee old boy Patriks Grigors in the 49th minute gave Billingham a glimmer of hope, but that was snuffed out less than two minutes later when Ben Davison incurred a five-minute major for boarding. With just over five minutes left the Comets capped a fine performance when Brown jumped on a defensive error and found the top corner to make the final score 1-6.
Man-of-the-Match for the Stars was James Moss.
Patriks Grigors 1+0; Michael Elder 0+1; Callum Wilkinson 0+1
SOG: Jacob Hammond 42 (15 / 11 / 16)
Bernard Brown 3+1; Joel Gautschi 1+3; Drew Rumgay 1+0; John Dolan 1+0; Carter Hamill 0+2; Scott Geddes 0+2; Garry Simpson 0+1
SOG: Toni Tammi 34 (9 / 14 / 11)
Thomas Brown resumed netminding duties for the visit of Solway Sharks on Sunday and the Stars were much quicker out of the box this time, James Moss getting the home side on the board in the eighth minute with a shot from the point that trickled in at the far post. Solway looked threatening however, and were level within a minute through the returning Peter Gápa. It was Gápa again in the 13th minute when he skated unopposed from behind the net and rounded Brown, but this time it was Billingham who responded immediately, Chris Sykes tapping in a Grigors rebound to level things up. Iain Bowie somehow squeezed the puck past Brown’s arm in the 19th minute to put the Sharks in front at the buzzer.
The second was a closely contested affair until the halfway mark when a penalty shot put away by Bowie swung the momentum the way of the visitors. The pressure building, an error in front of Brown’s net let in Bowie for his hattrick in the 38th minute, then Ruairi Lockerbie capitalised on a bit of ‘puck luck’ to extend the lead 26 seconds before the end of the session.
Coming back from four goals down against the League leaders was always going to be a big ask, but Billingham gave themselves a fighting chance when a Lewis Hall shot over the shoulder narrowed the gap in the 43rd minute, but Lockerbie restored the advantage less than two minutes later. Joe Walls set up Alex Preston for the one-timer as the teams traded goals, but Solway proved their credentials with three further goals to take them out of sight through Gordon Horne, Gápa and Stuart Kerr, 4-10 the final score.
Man-of-the-Match for Billingham was Lewis Hall.
Chris Sykes 1+1; James Moss 1+0; Lewis Hall 1+0; Alex Preston 1+0; Ben Greenhalgh 0+1; Joe Walls 0+1; Jack Emerson 0+1; Michael Elder 0+1; Patriks Grigors 0+1
SOG: Thomas Brown 44 (16 / 16 / 12)
Peter Gápa 3+2; Iain Bowie 3+1; Ruairi Lockerbie 2+2; Gordon Horne 1+1; Stuart Kerr 1+0; Callum Boyd 0+3; Richard Bentham 0+3; Kell Beattie 0+1; Scott Crane 0+1
SOG: Calum Hepburn 32 (9 / 15 / 8)
BigRedMachine Radio was on hand to catch the thoughts of all three coaches following the weekend's games - click here to hear Craig Simpson ask the important questions.
Next weekend Billingham are in National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 action with a home game against Blackburn Hawks on Saturday 13th November, followed by a trip to Widnes Wild on Sunday 14th November. Both games face off at 5.30pm.
Solway Sharks 5 Nottingham Lions 0
Sheffield Scimitars 5 Solihull Barons 8
Whitley Warriors 7 Widnes Wild 4
Billingham Stars 4 Solway Sharks 10
Billingham Stars 1 Dundee Comets 6
Solihull Barons 10 Blackburn Hawks 2
Image galleries courtesy of Linda Crabtree and Colin Edwards (CJE Photos) available via Billingham Stars Facebook page.