Match Report: Stars v Warriors 051221
Billingham Stars and local rivals Whitley Warriors brought the North Cup group stage to a close on Sunday night with a more subdued battle than the usual derby fireworks, Warriors grabbing bragging rights with a 1-4 road win.
Already without Lewis Crisp and the injured Jack Emerson, the Stars suffered another blow when Finn Bradon – having made his debut only last weekend – was suspended from the game having incurred a match penalty for fighting in the Under-18s fixture against Nottingham on Saturday evening. The lines significantly reshuffled, Tommy Spraggon found himself playing up front rather than his usual senior role patrolling the blue line. Despite the outcome of the match meaning little to either team both chose to go with their strongest available squads, although the fans were denied the spectacle of a Grigors family reunion when Rihards was not named in the Warriors line-up.
An end-to-end start saw chances go begging for Michael Elder and Joe Walls at one end, whilst netminder Thomas Brown kept the Tynesiders at bay at the other with a fine triple save in the tenth minute. It was the visitors who broke the deadlock however, Rolands Gritans forcing Brown to move across the crease and slipping the puck through his legs in the 14th minute. A defensive error let in Gritans for his second in the 17th minute, then Adam Finlinson gave the score line a look that flattered Whitley somewhat when he opened up a three-goal gap in the 19th minute.
Billingham finally got themselves on the board early in the second period when Callum Wilkinson got a second bite of the cherry and that was enough to force it home under Warriors netminder Dean Bowater. A chippy session ensued with referee Steve Brown kept busy, no more so than in the 33rd minute when Craig Johnson took exception to a Patriks Grigors challenge and the two squared up, Grigors ultimately getting himself an early shower for incurring two major penalties. Despite the Stars finding themselves short for long spells during the period, including a five-on-three situation and killing off much of Grigors’ major penalty, Whitley could not capitalise and the score remained 1-3 going into the final stanza.
Billingham looked to go on the offensive early in the third period but were pegged back when a rebound fell kindly for Shaun Kippin to give their guests some breathing space on 42 minutes. Though not quite the killer blow, the Stars could not find the key to unlocking the Warriors defence despite their best efforts, including hitting the post. With perhaps both sides minds more on next weekend’s League encounter, neither goaltender was troubled much further and the game closed out 1-4.
Man-of-the-Match for Billingham was Joe Walls.
Callum Wilkinson 1+0; Tommy Spraggon 0+1
SOG: Thomas Brown 48 (18 / 10 / 20)
Rolands Gritans 2+1; Adam Finlinson 1+1; Shaun Kippin 1+0; Dylan Hehir 0+1; Kyle Ross 0+1; Matthew Betham 0+1; Harry Harley 0+1
SOG: Dean Bowater 29 (10 / 13 / 6)
The coaching team of Stephen Foster and Rob Wilkinson spoke to Craig Simpson after the game - click here to tune in to BigRedMachine Radio.
Whitley will be the visitors to the Forum again next Sunday 12th December, this time in National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1, face off 7pm.
Solway Sharks 8 Blackburn Hawks 2
Widnes Wild 7 Nottingham Lions 2
Blackburn Hawks 8 Solihull Barons 7
Billingham Stars 1 Whitley Warriors 4
Image gallery available here courtesy of Colin Edwards, CJE Photos.