Whitley Warriors suffered a second straight derby defeat last weekend, losing 4-2 at the Forum to Billingham Stars. It was their first loss on Teesside since March 2019.
Whitley went into the game without forward; Jamie Ord, Shaun Kippin, Adam Finlinson and Thomas Fraser, defenceman Liam Smedley and goaltender Josh Crane. Dean Bowater got the start in net with Mark Turnbull as back up.
In what was a competitive game throughout, the first period was hard-fought, with Stars having the better chances but Dean Bowater was outstanding in the Whitley net, continuing the strong form he has had since returning to the side mid-season, Stars narrowly out-shooting Whitley 10-9 in the opening session.
The second period certainly belonged to Whitley though as they outshot their hosts 19-4 but Thomas Brown was proving to be equally strong in net as Bowater and made several great stops to keep the game scoreless. Whitley did finally find a way to solve Brown when Adam Wood opened the scoring off Matty McDonald’s pass at 37:21. Whitley’s goal seemed to hurt Billingham but Stars were soon back level early into the third period.
Callum Wilkinson, who is continuing his rich vein of form against Warriors, scored just ten seconds into the final session to bring his side back level. That goal changed the game and Stars were arguably the better team at that point, although they did only narrowly edged it on shots 14-13.
A cross checking call on Latvian import Patriks Grigors offered Whitley the opportunity to re-take the lead at 45:50, but things went awry three seconds into the powerplay when Finn Bradon fed Callum Wilkinson for a well taken short-handed goal and to give the hosts a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Things got worse for the visitors three minutes later when Bradon grabbed a goal of his own and that gave Stars a comfortable advantage with a little over eleven minutes remaining.
Ross Douglass was called for unsportsmanlike conduct at 52:55, giving the Stars a powerplay opportunity of their own. Bradon netting his second goal of the game mid-way through the man-advantage.
A fight broke out between Lewis Hall and former Stars forward,Lewis Crisp moments later, with both being assessed major penalties. But, despite being three goals down Whitley continued to push and at 58:22 were given an opportunity to reduce the arrears when former Warriors favourite Rolands Gritāns was called for holding. Canadian forward Phil Edgar notched his 51st point of the season as he converted on the resulting powerplay, the goal arriving off a Harry Harley assist, which was the defenceman’s 30th point of the season.
Warriors: Adam Wood 1+0, Phil Edgar 1+0, Matty McDonald 0+1, Harry Harley 0+1.
Stars: Callum Wilkinson 2+0, Finn Bradon 2+1, Chris Sykes 0+2, James Moss 0+1.
Man of the Match
Warriors: Phil Edgar
Stars: Callum Wilkinson