Whitley Warriors achieved their third victory of the season with a 9-1 win over Nottingham Lions at the National Ice Centre on Sunday.
Though travelling without defenceman Josh Maddock and forwards Ryan Sample, Anthony Wetherell, Ross Douglass and Ben Richards, the Warriors had seventeen skaters at their disposal, including forward Niall Ryder and former recreational players Adam Perrie and Gary Walker. The Lions, by comparison, were slightly greater in number and took to the ice with top points scorer Ruskin Hughes, new signing Ruslan Cernych and experienced netminder Alan Levers at their disposal.
Making the perfect start to the game, Whitley took the lead just forty eight seconds into the contest when Alternate Captain Sam Zajac made a long pass from Whitley’s defensive zone to find Latvian defenceman Rolands Gritāns who eased the puck past netminder Levers. Continuing to pile the pressure onto Nottingham’s defence, the Warriors doubled their tally on 5:19 when forward Callum Watson played the puck to winger Adam Perrie who, positioned on the goal line, fired into the top corner of Levers’ net; although this goal was credited to Gritāns. The Lions were offered some hope soon after when a slashing penalty for Warriors’ Canadian import Phil Edgar placed Nottingham on the power play but Whitley cleared their zone effectively to ensure Matt Bradbury’s team could not beat shot stopper Richie Lawson. After returning to full strength, the Warriors tried their luck once again in their efforts to add a third to the scoreboard as forward Kyle Ross tried a wraparound following Cernych’s failure to maintain possession. Though this attempt was unsuccessful, Warriors’ Alternate Captain Jordan Barnes made the most of quick play in Nottingham’s defensive zone to make it 3-0, forward Shaun Kippin playing the puck from behind the net following assistance from defenceman Ross Connolly on 14:03. Finding time and space, the Warriors’ domination continued much to the Lions dismay, with Edgar and Walker battling for a goal to stretch Nottingham’s defence further. However, as the first period drew to a close, Whitley contented themselves with their three-goal lead at the first interval, having made twenty five shots on Levers’ net whilst Lawson faced just four at the other end of the ice.
Picking up from where they left off, the Warriors continued with their attacking play which eventually incited a tripping offence from forward Paul Stanley who sat out for his actions. With this Whitley’s first power play of the evening, Edgar received the puck from Zajac in the Warriors’ defensive zone and skated to the other end of the ice to unleash an accurate shot which beat Levers to make it 4-0 on 25:49. A late hit from Captain Dean Holland awarded the Lions a power play after this goal but there was little of Whitley’s penalty kill remaining when Nottingham’s Alternate Captain Joseph Gretton was sinbinned for roughing. With the Warriors striving for a fifth goal, offensive work from Watson, Ross and Ryder forced yet another save from Levers but the stoppage which followed saw tempers flare as Barnes exchanged punches with Gretton, each earning themselves 2+2 for fighting in the process. Fired up, the Warriors made it 5-0 twenty nine seconds later, this time Martin Crammond’s interception allowing Good to play in left winger Ben Campbell who executed without hesitation. Nottingham’s Captain Elliot Perrin then picked up a penalty for delaying the game which was closely followed by a tripping call against Gritāns to see the playing field levelled. However, just three seconds after the Lions returned to full strength, defenceman Callum Medcalf was made to sit out for interference to see Whitley gain a short power play when Gritāns’ penalty terminated. Poor discipline disrupting the flow of play for both teams, neither could add to the 5-0 scoreline ahead of the third period.
Returning to the ice for the final stanza, the Warriors were awarded a power play in the opening minutes when experienced forward Marc Levers was sidelined for a slashing offence. After hitting the post, Whitley forced a glove save from netminder Levers before eventually finding the target for a sixth time as Kippin buried a cross-crease pass from versatile defenceman Edgar on 43:49. Moments later, the Warriors made it 7-0, Campbell outwitting Nottingham’s defence after Ross claimed possession to assist alongside Holland. The Lions immediately called a timeout and both teams opted for a change of netminder, Whitley allowing backup Jordan Boyle some ice time in place of Lawson whilst Nottingham replaced Levers with sixteen-year-old shot stopper Massimo Agostini. The game then became heated once more, this time Watson defeating Medcalf to see both players sidelined for fighting whilst Perrin incurred a ten minute misconduct penalty for his part in the incident. Soon after, young defenceman Kieran Raynor was ejected from the game for a clipping offence against Ross to hand Whitley a five-minute power play. The Warriors then made it 8-0 on 51:45 when Player-Coach David Longstaff picked out Campbell with an exceptional pass to see the left winger complete his hat trick. A holding penalty for ‘D’ man Jamie Hovell followed and the Warriors bagged themselves their fourth power play goal of the evening with just seven seconds of their advantage remaining as Campbell claimed his third consecutive goal following an assist from Gritāns. With the game all but won for the Warriors, Longstaff’s men continued to heap the pressure onto netminder Agostini but it was the Lions who had the final say in the contest as they snatched a small consolation with thirty one seconds left to play; Hughes burying a superb shot when relentless work from experienced forward Levers presented Czech forward Jakub Klima with the puck to assist.
The game at an end, Whitley celebrated their third win of the season which takes them into sixth place with seven points from eleven games. Still seeking their first home victory of their 2018-19 campaign, the Warriors are in action again next weekend when they take on Solway Sharks at the Dumfries Ice Bowl before hosting Solihull Barons from 5pm on Sunday.
Shots on goal
Ruskin Hughes (1+0), Jakub Klima (0+1), Marc Levers (0+1)
Ben Campbell (4+0), Rolands Gritāns (2+1), Phil Edgar (1+2), Shaun Kippin (1+1), Jordan Barnes(1+0), Sam Zajac (0+2), Kyle Ross (0+2), Ross Connolly (0+1), Callum Watson (0+1), DJ Good (0+1), Dean Holland (0+1), David Longstaff (0+1)
Man of the Match
Lions: Ruslan Cernych
Warriors: Phil Edgar
Referee: Deana Cuglietta
Linesman: Nathan Carmichael
Linesman: Simon Clark