Whitley Warriors suffered a 7-2 road defeat to Hull Pirates in Saturday’s feisty encounter before narrowly losing 5-3 in Sunday’s home fixture.
Travelling to Hull with a seventeen-man team, the Warriors found themselves with one more skater than their opposition despite the fact that they were missing several players of their own, including top points scorer Ben Campbell, injured defenceman Ross Connolly, suspended Captain Dean Holland and Player-Coach David Longstaff who opted to give his instructions from the bench.
Starting the game with pace, both teams were eager to acquire a lead in this fixture but Hull were first to find the net, the side startling shot stopper Jordan Boyle just eighty seconds in as right winger James Archer achieved his eighth goal of the league campaign following some neat play from Alternate Captain Samuel Towner. Keen to respond to this goal knowing the threat that the Pirates pose, the Warriors battled back just over a minute later as forward Adam Perrie broke free of Hull’s defence to slot home a fantastic unassisted effort to level the scoring. With play passing rapidly between zones and both teams prepared to give this game their all in spite of their short benches, it was unsurprising that discipline began to slide as Alternate Captain Jordan Barnes incurred the first penalty of the contest on 7:40 for charging. With just over half of this penalty killed, the Warriors found the playing field levelled when the Pirates picked up a minor for icing too many men. Enjoying a short power play on Barnes’ return to the ice, Whitley strove to put pressure on netminder Bradley Day but found that they could not alter the score line and instead, the Pirates regained their lead exactly three minutes after returning to full strength when Player-Coach Hewitt scored on the backhand to make it 2-1. With little separating the two teams, the game soon became heated when a slashing offence from Pirates’ forward Jordan Fisher was returned with rough play from Barnes to see both players receive minor penalties for their offences on 14:39. However, just over a minute after the sides were restored to five men, Canadian Phil Edgar was sidelined for crosschecking. Remaining strong whilst shorthanded, the Warriors returned to full strength unscathed five seconds before the break to head in just one goal behind the former EPL outfit.
Filing back onto the ice with a will to challenge their opposition, Whitley were handed the perfect opportunity to equalise as Hull’s Captain Jamie Chilcott was shown to the sin bin for slashing. Instead though, Longstaff’s line-up were left to rue their inability to capitalise on this power play when Hewitt claimed his second goal of the game on 24:29. Awarded the additional skater moments later when defenceman Lee Haywood made way for tripping, the Warriors again struggled to make the desired impact in front of goal and were pleased to receive another chance on the advantage when Hewitt was sinbinned for crosschecking. Despite this, the home team continued to go from strength to strength and netted with one second of their penalty remaining to achieve a shorthanded goal as forward Lee Bonner found the target with support from skilled defencemen Jonathan Kirk and Chilcott on 29:28. Shortly after this goal, the two sides clashed when Hull’s winger Sonny Karlsson crosschecked Whitley’s Alternate Captain Sam Zajac who retaliated; consequently, the Pirate incurred a minor for his offence whilst the Warrior was dealt the harsher penalty of 2+2 for roughing. Making the most of their power play, Hull added a fifth goal to their tally as Bonner, returning the favour, assisted Kirk whilst netminder Day was given credit for his neat pass to the centre. Forty eight seconds after this goal, the Pirates made it 6-1 to heap more misery onto the Warriors, this time forward Joshua Gent printing his name onto the scoresheet courtesy of Haywood and Fisher. Striving to chip away at this deficit, Whitley continued to make a nuisance of themselves, with young forward Ross Douglass and skilled Warrior Callum Watson setting their sights on a goal without success. As such, Hull were able to see out this period as the dominant team with their 6-1 lead intact at the second interval.
Switching shot stopper Boyle for netminder Rory Dunn for the third and final period, Whitley were keen to make an impact and did so, but perhaps not in the way that they intended as versatile forward Kyle Ross battled with Karlsson four minutes into the stanza before Watson dropped the gloves with Fisher three seconds later. With Fisher throwing punches early on, Watson lost his jersey and almost fell but, quick to regain his balance, he fought back before finally dragging the Pirate to the ice. As a result, each player received 2+2 for fighting as punishment for their actions. With this fight spurring on the Warriors, Whitley eventually reaped the rewards of their hard work after returning to full strength when stand-in Captain Shaun Kippin fired the puck over Day’s shoulder to make it 6-2 at the midpoint of the period. Though Edgar tried to carve out an opportunity for his side soon after this goal, the Pirates dashed any hopes of the Warriors narrowing the score line further when Bonner tore through Whitley’s defence to complete the scoring after receiving the puck from Archer with less than three minutes remaining in the encounter. Defeated, Whitley accepted their fate as the final buzzer confirmed their 7-2 road loss.
Shots on goal
Lee Bonner (2+1), Jason Hewitt (2+0), James Archer (1+2), Jonathan Kirk (1+2), Lee Haywood (0+1), Bradley Day (0+1), Jamie Chilcott (0+1), Samuel Towner (0+1), Jordan Fisher (0+1), Kevin Phillips (0+1), Josh Gent (0+1)
Adam Perrie (1+0), Shaun Kippin (1+0), Lawson Glasby (0+1), Jordan Barnes (0+1)
Man of the Match
Pirates: Jordan Fisher
Warriors: Sam Zajac
Returning to Hillheads to face Hull Pirates in front of their home crowd, Whitley Warriors had at their disposal a far stronger team than that of Saturday, with Player-Coach David Longstaff also opting to ice against Jason Hewitt’s fifteen-man team.
As both teams made an exceptionally fast start to this contest, play quickly became end to end with both netminders Jordan Boyle and Bradley Day challenged in the opening minutes, although Hull appeared to have the best chance in the opening stages when a rare error from Alternate Captain Sam Zajac saw the Pirates collect possession but fail to make their mark. Shortly afterwards, Hull went shorthanded when Alternate Captain Samuel Towner was punished for tripping but, finding it difficult to make their power play count, the Warriors were relieved to have a second opportunity soon after Towner’s return to the ice when experienced defenceman Kevin Phillips was sinbinned for interference on 5:04. Striving to make the most of this opportunity, the Warriors came incredibly close to scoring, peppering Day before Latvian defenceman Rolands Gritāns struck the bar with a powerful, long range shot. Nevertheless, the Warriors failed to punish the Pirates and it was only when Gritāns was sinbinned for interference that Whitley finally hit the target; Alternate Captain Jordan Barnes driving forwards along the boards to bury a low shot to the right of Day on 10:32, despite right winger James Archer’s attempts to hold him back. Just over a minute after scoring this goal, the Warriors were handed another power play when Archer made way for interference but the Pirates retaliated with a shorthanded goal of their own as Player-Coach Hewitt bore down on Boyle’s net before slipping the puck to fellow forward Lee Bonner who made it 1-1 on 12:18. Realising that they needed to make their advantage count, the Warriors responded just fifty one seconds later when clever play between Canadian Phil Edgar and stand-in Captain Shaun Kippin resulted in left winger Ben Campbell firing from distance to reclaim his team’s lead. Just twenty four seconds later, the Pirates made it 2-2 as Archer beat Whitley’s netminder Jordan Boyle to level the scoring for a second time. However, this was closely followed by Hull’s fourth penalty as Hewitt was sidelined for tripping. Toiling against the Pirates’ strong defence yet again, the Warriors eventually reaped the rewards of their hard work when Zajac rocketed a shot past Day with just three seconds of his team’s advantage remaining courtesy of neat play between Edgar and Player-Coach Longstaff. Despite Warrior DJ Good picking up a penalty for hooking on 17:11, Whitley saw out the stanza with their 3-2 lead intact but not before Hull’s defenceman Lee Haywood purportedly slashed netminder Boyle to spark a heated conclusion to the first period.
Returning after such a fast-paced opening, the Warriors struggled to apply the same level of intensity and found themselves up against Hull’s rapid attacking play as a result, with Edgar, Zajac and Gritāns amongst those battling in defence to maintain their team’s fragile lead. A power play handed to Whitley on 25:54 was again frittered away as the Warriors’ slow place prevented the outfit from gaining enough momentum to contend with the Pirates’ difficult defence. Whilst Whitley continued to strive for goal in spite of their fruitless power play, Hull angled for a third equaliser, playing a skater behind the Warriors’ defence in an effort to poach a breakaway goal. At the halfway point of the period, Hull lost Archer to the sin bin but, as the Warriors were again slow on the power play, the Pirates killed this penalty with ease. Gradually working against their opposition to bring Day into the action, Edgar and Zajac built from the blue line to carve out opportunities for their teammates whilst Campbell, Kippin and Barnes were amongst those waiting to tip the perfect shot into the net. Countering this with breakaway play and periods of pressure in Whitley’s defensive zone, the Pirates were a persistent threat and came incredibly close to scoring when a shot ricocheted behind Boyle to cause a moment of anxiety for the home team. As Whitley failed to take heed of this cautionary shot, Hull made it 3-3 just fifty seconds before the second interval as Kirk fired the puck high into the air, only for it to bounce off Boyle and into his net.
Having conceded in such an unfortunate manner, the Warriors strove to overcome this early in the third period but again found themselves challenged by the Pirates who, sensing that they could claw their way into the lead, sought to challenge Boyle at every opportunity. An interference penalty for Gritāns on 43:21 initially placed Whitley under more pressure but the side fought back whilst shorthanded; Campbell supplying a pass to stand-in Captain Shaun Kippin whose narrow miss left the scoreboard unchanged. As a result, Hull gained possession to once again race back into Whitley’s defensive zone where the Warriors were faced with sustained attacking play and only remained on level terms due to Boyle’s outstanding performance between the pipes. As the period progressed however, the tables began to turn when Pirates Towner and Phillips were sinbinned within four seconds of each other to allow Whitley a 5-on-3 power play. Moving the puck well in their offensive zone, the Warriors targeted a winning goal as Zajac worked with former Pirate and fellow defenceman Harry Harley in search of a blue line shot to beat Day. This method unsuccessful, the home team played the puck behind Day’s goal, flicking a pass in front of the netminder to cause a moment of uncertainty which was dealt with by Hull’s defence. The Warriors were quick to regret their fruitless power play however, as the Pirates powered forwards into Whitley’s defensive zone where Towner picked up a pass from Archer to beat Boyle fourteen seconds after returning to the ice. Sensing their imminent defeat, the Warriors battled on in spite of a holding penalty for forward Kyle Ross but pulling Boyle from his net proved to be one step too far for Whitley as Archer bagged his team an empty net goal with one second remaining in the contest.
Accepting their 5-3 home defeat, the Warriors still find themselves in sixth place with 15 points from 20 league games ahead of next weekend’s fixtures which sees Whitley take on Solway Sharks at the Dumfries Ice Bowl on Saturday evening before facing Sutton Sting at home on Sunday.
Shots on goal
Ben Campbell (1+1), Sam Zajac (1+0), Jordan Barnes (1+0), Shaun Kippin (0+1), David Longstaff (0+1), Phil Edgar (0+1)
James Archer (2+1), Samuel Towner (1+1), Lee Bonner (1+1), Jonathan Kirk (1+0), Jason Hewitt (0+2), Bradley Day (0+1), Chris Wilcox (0+1)
Man of the Match
Warriors: Ben Campbell
Pirates: Jonathan Kirk
Referee: Alexander Stewart
Linesman: Mark Bone
Linesman: Daniel Rees