Ultimate Windows sponsored Billingham Stars

Billingham Stars made the short journey up the A19 on Sunday for a National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 tussle with nearest neighbours Whitley Warriors, the Tynesiders looking to close the gap on leaders Solway Sharks by taking derby honours for the third time this month.

Taking to the ice without sniper Callum Wilkinson, it was Joe Walls who stepped up to the first line as the Stars shuffled the pack up front once again. Forced to play off an early high sticks call against Shaun Galloway, Billingham successfully killed the penalty and battled out a fairly even opening five minutes before the Warriors moved up a gear. Growing pressure from the home side was converted into the opening goal in the eighth minute when Callum Queenan found himself alone in front of goal and placed the puck accurately past the glove of Stars netminder Thomas Brown. The advantage stretched to two four minutes later when Steven Chalmers speculatively lobbed a wrist shot from the point, but Brown was unsighted and the puck nestled behind him. Billingham's youngsters continued to plug away and Whitley goaltender Dean Bowater had to be on his toes to deny the returning Finn Bradon in the 13th and 16th minutes. The hosts looked to take the game out of sight however, and a lucky break went the right way for Chalmers to go clear, his final shot finding the bottom corner for a three-goal cushion at the break.

Billingham skated out for the second session with Jacob Hammond taking over from Brown between the pipes. He was called into action almost immediately as he made a crucial kick save in the first 60 seconds of the period. Warriors were not quite the dominant force of the first, and with the Stars playing a disruptive game to limit the damage, chances were limited. The only goal of the period came just before the halfway mark when captain Dean Holland's shot through traffic squeezed past Hammond. The flow of play remained largely towards the Stars net but the shot selection was poor and Hammond was untroubled until a one-on-one breakaway on 37 minutes when he stood up well to deny a shorthanded effort for Whitley who had Matty McDonald in the box for delaying the game.

The first ten minutes of the third stanza played out very much like the second period, a scrappy affair with only the odd chance at goal for both sides. A flashpoint involving Warriors’ Shaun Kippin and Stars’ Chris Sykes saw no punches thrown but seemed to spark something in the home side. For Billingham it had the opposite effect and over the final ten minutes the visitors capitulated, conceding five goals. The floodgates opened in the 52nd minute when Kyle Ross scrambled the puck home, then just over a minute later a defensive error left Adam Finlinson with time and space to shoot past Hammond’s glove. The 57th minute was a mini horror show for the Stars as Hammond was forced to retrieve the puck three times, Kippin then Craig Johnson and Holland with his second all stretching the twine. It was a bitter blow for a Billingham side that had battled through 50 minutes, only to fall apart and give the scoreline a very one-sided look, Whitley taking the points and making it three wins on the bounce against their North East rivals.

Man-of-the-Match for Billingham was Joe Walls.

 

Warriors Stats:

Dean Holland 2+1; Steven Chalmers 2+0; Shaun Kippin 1+2; Adam Finlinson 1+2; Callum Queenan 1+1; Craig Johnson 1+0; Kyle Ross 1+0; Rolands Gritans 0+3; Adam Wood 0+2; Dylan Hehir 0+1; Jordan Barnes 0+1; Harry Harley 0+1; Rihards Grigors 0+2

SOG: Dean Bowater 28 (10 / 7 / 11)

Stars Stats:

SOG: Thomas Brown 16; Jacob Hammond 32 (11 / 21)

 

BigRedMachine Radio spoke with assistant coach Rob Wilkinson after the game - click here to catch his views on what went wrong for the Stars.

 

Billingham head into a three-week festive break, returning to National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 action on Sunday 9th January when Nottingham Lions are the visitors to the Forum.

 

Weekend Results:

NIHL(N)1:

Solihull Barons 4 Widnes Wild 5

Sheffield Scimitars 7 Blackburn Hawks 1

Whitley Warriors 9 Billingham Stars 0

Widnes Wild 3 Sheffield Scimitars 2

Nottingham Lions 5 Solihull Barons 3

 

Image gallery: click here for game pictures courtesy of Colin Edwards, CJE Photos.