Match Report: Stars v Scimitars 26/09/21
BILLINGHAM STARS produced a battling performance in their first National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 game of the season against a talented Sheffield Scimitars side, and it was enough to grab both points as an outstanding netminding display from Thomas Brown helped them on their way to a 5-3 win.
Sheffield arrived at the Forum smarting after an unexpected Midlands Cup overtime loss on Saturday evening, Widnes Wild taking the points from IceSheffield. Indeed it was the Scimitars who got away the first shot in anger, Stanislav Lascek testing Brown in the second minute. At the other end, Jimmy Moutrey hit the post on his first shift after returning to the squad, then almost got the opener when he crashed the net in the seventh minute. Sheffield were still sniffing for an opening however, and they got it in the eighth minute when Lascek found Michael Danecko who squeezed the puck under Brown. The Stars response was almost immediate – a minute later Jack Emerson fired at Scimitars goaltender Nicholas Winters, Winters seemingly covering the puck but somehow he managed to push it over the line for the equaliser. The home side moved ahead in the 14th minute when captain Michael Elder sent a speculative shot goalwards and it crept inside the near post. Seconds later and the gap was widened as Emerson’s no-look pass found Chris Sykes at the back stick for the one-timer past Winters. Billingham now firmly in the ascendancy, some hard work behind the net from James Moss in the 16th minute was rewarded when Winters lost track of the puck and Lewis Hall lifted it over his glove for his first senior goal.
The second session was a war of attrition as both sides sought to wear down their opponents and both netminders seeing plenty of the puck. Brown was by far the busier of the two, and with Billingham unable to match the intensity of their first period performance, he needed to be at the top of his game to maintain the gap as he kept Sheffield at bay. The Stars chances to extend their hard-fought lead were limited as their guests pushed hard for a way back into the match, but Brown stood firm and the period closed out with no further additions to the score.
The two sides traded early goals as the pace picked back up at the start of the final stanza. First Danecko benefitted from a Lascek break in the 42nd minute, but Moss re-established the lead less than a minute later when he stripped the defenceman of the puck on the blue line and beat Winters low on his blocker side. The Scimitars were not about to give the game up easily however, and the home fans had to sit out a nervy final six minutes when Ruskin Hughes found the gap over Brown’s shoulder to give the visitors a glimmer of hope. Despite a late 5-on-3 power play and pulling Winters for the final two minutes, Sheffield could not find another way past Brown and Billingham secured their first win of the season.
Man-of-the-Match for the Stars was Thomas Brown.
James Moss 1+3; Chris Sykes 1+1; Jack Emerson 1+1; Michael Elder 1+0; Lewis Hall 1+0; James Hellens 0+1; Callum Wilkinson 0+1
SOG: Thomas Brown 49 (16 / 18 / 15)
Michael Danecko 2+0; Ruskin Hughes 1+0; Stanislav Lascek 0+2; Cameron Pywell 0+1; Harry Hopkins 0+1
SOG: Nicholas Winters 37 (15 / 12 / 10)
Coach Stephen Foster believes that his young side got the result that their recent performances deserved:
“It’s good to get up and running. We wanted to get off to a good start in our League campaign and the boys stepped up to play tonight. We knew what we needed to do against the Scimitars, we needed to put the pressure on early – we stuck to the plan and executed it very well. Our second period was one of our worst so far this season, we were lucky not to leak any goals and we had Tom (Brown) to thank for that. He came up big when we needed him and stopped Sheffield getting any momentum. We rolled with four lines again tonight and that’s going to pay dividends all season – the effort is there, everyone is pulling on the same rope and it’s paying off for us.”
Billingham will make the return journey to IceSheffield for a National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 fixture against the Scimitars on Saturday 2nd October, face off 7.30pm. They then take on Widnes Wild back at the Forum on Sunday 3rd October, face off 5.30pm.
Nottingham Lions 6 Blackburn Hawks 10
Billingham Stars 5 Sheffield Scimitars 3
Solihull Barons 3 Whitley Warriors 4 (after overtime)
Solway Sharks 5 Dundee Comets 3
Sheffield Scimitars 8 Widnes Wild 9 (after overtime)
Blackburn Hawks 2 Solihull Barons 9
Image gallery: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?vanity=billinghamstars&set=a.258170456313122
Photos courtesy of Linda Crabtree.