Whitley Warriors had another mixed weekend, going down 4-3 at home to Blackburn Hawks on Saturday before bouncing back to a 3-1 win in Queensferry against Deeside Dragons on Sunday.
Going into the game against Blackburn, Whitley were without forward Callum Queenan and defencemen Adam Wood and Lennon Thomas. They were able to welcome back Rihards Grigors though after he missed last weekend’s games. Dean Bowater got the start in goal.
In what was a closely contested game throughout, the home side took the lead at 6:47 when Dean Holland converted a Matty McDonald pass. But with both sides running into penalty trouble it prevented either from playing any form of flowing hockey.
Blackburn, despite being outshot by their hosts 22-11 in the opening period, drew themselves level when Aaron Davies fired home from an acute angle following a pass from Devids Jurinenoks. But any ideas the Hawks had of trying to build some momentum following that well timed goal quickly evaporated when Damarni James was ejected from the game for an alleged check to the head less than two minutes later.
The second period saw more of the same with a flurry of penalties disrupting both sides. Blackburn’s Alex Oldale was the more busy of the two goalies as his side were once again outshot 14-5. But he was powerless to prevent Dean Holland from scoring his second of the game and eighteenth of the season. With the Warriors on the powerplay, Holland converted Harry Harley’s pass to restore his side’s lead.
Just two minutes later the Hawks were back level once again, this time with a powerplay goal of their own, Latvian forward Devids Jurinenoks finding the net following good play from Tate Shudra and Ethan Mayoh.
Moments later a low hit into the boards saw young defenceman Connor Lewis react and drop the gloves for his first senior fight against Marcus Thacker. The Durham-born blue-liner continues to impress this season and can now add a physical side to his game after this performance.
A little over a minute later Shaun Kippin was about to be called for holding but with Blackburn in possession they advanced up the ice and scored a delayed penalty goal for their first lead of the game, Jacob Lutwyche finishing Tate Shudra’s pass.
Whitley had to dig deep to draw themselves back level, but they managed to do just that before the period was over, Lewis Crisp netting his third goal of the season after some typical good play from Kyle Ross.
Neither team were ever more than a goal ahead throughout in one of the tightest games of the season. So perhaps it was fitting that the winning goal would have to be something special. Aaron Davies who has made a habit out of scoring goals against the Warriors throughout his illustrious career, hit a clean shot which sailed past Bowater in goal giving him no chance. It was a goal worthy of winning any game and Blackburn were good money for it as they narrowly edged the final period in shots.
Warriors: Dean Holland 2+0, Lewis Crisp 1+0, Phil Edgar 0+2, Matty McDonald 0+1, Harry Harley 0+1, Kyle Ross 0+1.
Hawks: Aaron Davies 2+0, Devids Jurinenoks 1+1, Jacob Lutwyche 1+0, Tate Shudra 0+2, Ethan Mayoh 0+1, Matty Cross.
Man of the Match
Warriors: Anth Wetherell
Hawks: Tate Shudra
The following night Whitley travelled to North Wales with a short bench and came away with an important 3-1 win. Anth Wetherell put in a man of the match performance for the second night in a row, with a pair of powerplay goals either side of a Shaun Kippin shorthanded marker. The veteran forward made a happy return to one of his former clubs with a multi-point game. Captain Dean Holland also added a couple of assists to his season’s tally.
The game produced very few goal scoring opportunities for both sides but Josh Crane, who got the start in net, was denied a shut out in the final minute when Ross Kennedy scored with just 52 seconds remaining. Josh did get an assist on the Warriors second goal though, his second of the season.
Whitley have swept the season series against Deeside and the two sides could potentially meet in the playoff quarter finals.
Warriors: Anth Wetherell 2+0, Shaun Kippin 1+1, Dean Holland 0+2, Owen Yarrow 0+1, Josh Crane 0+1.
Dragons: Ross Kennedy 1+0, Billy Perks 0+1, Petr Valusiak 0+1.
Man of the Match
Warriors: Anth Wetherell
Dragons: Billy Perks