Whitley Warriors were in action on just the 1 occasion over the weekend when they took on the Sheffield Steeldogs on Sunday evening on home ice at Hillheads in Whitley Bay. Warriors were able to name a strong roster with recent absentee Callum Watson coming back into the line up alongside all regular members of the squad.
Warriors were unlucky not to take the lead late on in the opening period of action when Whitley went close twice in a matter of minutes with Phil Edgar almost grabbing a goal before an effort from Dean Holland which did hit the back of the net was waved off by the officials on duty. Steeldogs then almost scored themselves in the dying stages of the period when their import Kolena fired narrowly wide after some slick stock handling from the talented forward.
Warriors recent acquisition Sam Zajac dropped the gloves with Steeldogs Liam Charnock late in the 1st period which saw a lengthy stoppage to the contest which resulted in both teams being awarded 6 minutes in penalties by referee Stewart after a consultation with his linesmen.
Sheffield went close once again 3 minutes into the 2nd period when Warriors netminder Richie Lawson made a smart save to deny Steeldogs import Adrian Palak. Warriors were creating plenty of their own openings though with Adam Finlinson and Ben Richards both causing problems for the visitors defence. It was Steeldogs who grabbed the opening goal of the game on 37 minutes when the hard working Ashley Calvert found the back of the net from close range with Greg Wood and Ben Morgan being credited with the assists on this occasion.
The third period of play saw Warriors take the game to the Steeldogs, Whitley levelled the game up on 50 minutes when Adam Finlinson finished neatly into the bottom corner of the net having collected the puck off the boards. Shaun Kippin then fired Warriors into the lead 3 minutes later from close range after Brandon Stones had saved Kippin’s initial effort.
Warriors now looked full of energy and Steeldogs were struggling to prevent Whitley from generating genuine scoring chances and Warriors made it 3-1 when Shaun Kippin grabbed his 2nd goal of the game with a sweet finish from in front of the net with linemates Jordan Barnes and David Longstaff involved in the build up play. Callum Watson went close to extending Warriors lead soon after.
Sheffield looked for a way back into the game which saw their player/coach Ben Morgan call a time out and pull their netminder for an extra out skater, however Warriors skipper Dean Holland was able to take control of the puck and fire home an empty net goal which saw Warriors claim a 4-1 success against the current league leaders.
Adam Finlinson was deservedly selected as Whitley Man of the Match for a solid all round display in which he gave everything he had for his side. Greg Wood was chosen as the visitor’s best player over the course of the contest.
Warriors superb success over Sheffield is Whitley’s first victory over one of the former EPL sides who dropped into NIHL hockey at the end of last season and it was also Sheffield’s first defeat of the campaign against a side who were plying their trade in NIHL North last season.
Next weekend sees Warriors in action on 2 occasions with an away game on Saturday against the Solihull Barons before a home game against Solway Sharks the following evening at Hillheads.