Whitley Warriors got back to winning ways on Sunday when they put in arguably their best performance of the season to snatch a dramatic late 3-2 win over Blackburn Hawks. The biggest news coming into the game was that Jordan Barnes was making his return to the line up having not played since the playoff final in Leeds back in April 2022.
A one minute silence was observed before the game for Remembrance Sunday.
An even first period saw a fast-paced game in the first ten minutes or so with lots of physicality. The Warriors enjoyed much more time in the offensive zone than the Hawks but found Ben Keddie in top form in goal for the visitors.
However the home side would take a lead 90 seconds before the first break when Jordan Barnes found Harry Harley at the point who in turn played it to the left wing for Rihards Grigors to snipe through traffic and find the glove side of the net for 1-0 Warriors.
The Hawks looked to get back level early in the second period when Jacob Lutwyche was set free on a shorthanded breakaway, following a clever reverse pass from Devids Jurinenoks. Lutwyche slipped past Harry Harley with a nice drag back before forcing Ryan Wardell into a fingertip save.
With Kyle Pow off for a tripping call it would prove costly as the Hawks equalised on the resulting powerplay. Aaron Davies collected the loose puck from behind the back of the net and reacted quickly to put it home with a wraparound on the blocker side. They could have gone ahead moments later when on another powerplay, Adam Barnes turning inside Matty McDonald, demonstrating some great puck control, before shooting at Ryan Wardell’s logo.
Whitley then countered with Callum Queenan skipping past Bobby Streetly before moving to his backhand, but he couldn’t lift his shot over Ben Keddie in the Hawks net.
It was end-to-end action but the Hawks were starting to gain the upper hand. The momentum would fully swing their way after Ben McLennan and Kyle Pow went toe-to-toe. The Hawks would go on to dominate the remainder of the period – less than 30 seconds later Blackburn took the lead. A poor giveaway by the Warriors was quickly seized upon by the Hawks, with a swift pass from Aaron Davies putting Jacob Lutwyche away for the latter to finish top shelf with a fiercely driven shot.
Moments later a 2-on-1 break saw Jacob Lutwyche exchange passes with Aaron Davies who fired over when it looked like he was about to make it 3-1. Whitley then countered with a fast break out, Callum Queenan trying to pick out Harry Harley at the back post with a saucer pass, but it was a little bit too high for the defenceman to convert.
Another giveaway on the Warriors blue line saw Blackburn break in with a 2-on-0. Adam Barnes found James Riddoch but the return pass just went wide of Barnes’ stick.
With a little over 90 seconds remaining in the period a second fight broke out. Shaun Kippin was the clear winner over Bobby Streetly with the Whitley captain fired up and looking to get his team mates to give a positive response.
The third period saw the Hawks begin on a 5-on-3 powerplay but the Warriors were able to kill it off. They even had time to create a chance of their own when a nice pass from Adam Finlinson picked out Jay Lucas rushing in towards the low slot but he couldn’t steer the puck past Keddie.
Hawks then countered when James Royds dangled and danced through the low slot, before being thwarted with an excellent double stop by Ryan Wardell. A minute later Aaron Davies and Charles Phillips stole in on another breakaway but couldn’t beat Wardell in the Whitley net.
The end-to-end action continued, another Hawks breakaway saw Kyle Pow being caught in possession and Adam Barnes almost capitalising when getting in on goal.
Whitley countered again when Olly King forced a kick save out of Keddie before Adam Finlinson was given a curious hooking penalty. That gave the Hawks the impetus once again but a defensive zone face off win from Shaun Kippin saw the puck move swiftly to Harry Harley before he in turn set Ross Douglass away for a shorthanded breakaway which he buried past Keddie to tie the game up.
Whitley then had to kill off two 5-on-3 penalties but once they got back to full strength were able to turn the game in their favour. Adam Finlinson passed the puck to the back post for Jordan Barnes to find Shaun Kippin who in turn squeezed the puck home for a dramatic winner.
It left the home crowd buzzing with Jordan Barnes celebrating his return to the ice with two assists, while captain Shaun Kippin claimed a Gordie Howe Hat Trick of a goal, assist and a fight. You had to be there to believe it!
Warriors: Shaun Kippin 1+1, Rihards Grigors 1+0, Ross Douglass 1+0, Jordan Barnes 0+2, Harry Harley 0+2, Adam Finlinson 0+1.
Hawks: Aaron Davies 1+1, Jacob Lutwyche 1+1, Bobby Streetly 0+1, Devids Jurinenoks 0+1.
Man of the Match
Warriors: Shaun Kippin
Hawks: Jacob Lutwyche