After suffering a 7-2 defeat to Solway Sharks at the Dumfries Ice Bowl on Saturday, Whitley Warriors made amends for this loss with a 7-4 home win over Sutton Sting on Sunday.
Further to travelling to Solway without suspended Captain Dean Holland, the Warriors were also missing Alternate Captain Jordan Barnes, forward Ryan Sample, defenceman Liam Smedley and Canadian Phil Edgar which afforded netminder Rory Dunn the opportunity to play as a skater, besides providing ice time for former recreational players Adam Perrie and Gary Walker. Meanwhile, Solway were without blue liner Josh Grieveson and suspended defenceman Lewis Baldwin but took to the ice with just one less skater than their visitors.
Starting the game with first choice netminder Richie Lawson between the pipes, Whitley Warriors matched close rivals Solway Sharks in the early stages of the first period as neither side were able to open the scoring. However, as play progressed, the home team’s desire to take the lead was realised when top points scorer Rick Bentham shot from the slot into the bottom corner on 10:37, assisted by Alternate Captain James Hutchinson. Determined to level the scoring, the Warriors responded with an equaliser less than two minutes later when versatile forward Kyle Ross played the puck to defenceman Harry Harley whose point shot was redirected by Perrie to make it 1-1. Disappointed to have their lead snatched away, the Sharks then suffered a further setback when a delaying the game penalty for Hutchinson placed Whitley on the power play. Having played just over a minute of their advantage, the Warriors incurred a bench minor for too many men to allow Solway the additional skater on Hutchinson’s return to the ice. Despite this, the score line remained unchanged to see the sides head in on an even footing at the end of the first period.
The second stanza starting in much the same way as the first with both netminders Lawson and Calum Hepburn equally challenged, it took Solway a little over twelve minutes of this period to reclaim their lead, this time a neat pass from Slovakian left winger Peter Gápa finding an unmarked Iain Bowie at the back door to make it 2-1 with 32:14 played. Just thirty four seconds after this goal, Sharks’ defenceman Michael Thomson was sidelined for hooking to see Whitley awarded a second power play. As with their earlier opportunity, the Warriors were unable to make their advantage count and found themselves punished for icing too many men four seconds before Solway’s return to full strength. Subsequently, the Dumfries outfit piled the pressure onto Whitley’s defence and it paid off as Hutchinson made a point shot through traffic to beat Lawson on 36:18. The score line 3-1, it was clear that Solway were beginning to dominate and this was confirmed when the outfit bagged themselves a fourth goal in the final minute of the second period as Canadian Cale Tanaka tapped in a close range rebound following assists from Alternate Captain Ross Murray and left winger Steven Moore. Matters were then made worse for the Warriors when Ross was sinbinned for hooking twenty six seconds ahead of the second interval.
Returning to the ice with four men as a result, Whitley conceded on the power play just forty six seconds into the final stanza as a slick interchange between Hutchinson and forward Scott Henderson presented Tanaka with the opportunity to score from the slot. Though Ross’ penalty was terminated as a result, it was not long after that blue liner Ross Connolly was punished for a check from behind against right winger Ross Hancock on 42:39. Though Solway maintained their comfortable 5-1 lead, the side could not capitalise on this power play and it was only on 53:30 that the Dumfries outfit were able to find the net for a sixth time; Tanaka on target after skating through Whitley’s defence to achieve a neat finish following clean passing play between Moore and Captain Struan Tonnar. This goal prompted a change of shot stopper for the Warriors who switched Lawson for backup Jordan Boyle. Provoked into a response, Whitley snatched a second goal shortly afterwards as winger Ben Campbell received the puck from Dunn to see his deflected shot sneak past Hepburn on 56:12. In spite of this, the Warriors knew that this goal would be little more than a consolation and it proved to be the case as Solway completed their scoring to make it 7-2 with just forty seconds remaining in the game as left winger Gápa skated from one end of the ice to the other to beat Boyle.
Shots on goal
Cale Tanaka (3+0), James Hutchinson (1+2), Peter Gápa (1+1), Iain Bowie (1+0), Rick Bentham (1+0), Steven Moore (0+3), Struan Tonnar (0+2), Joe Coulter (0+1), Michael Thomson (0+1), Scott Henderson (0+1), Ross Murray (0+1)
Ben Campbell (1+0), Adam Perrie (1+0), Kyle Ross (0+1), Rory Dunn (0+1), Harry Harley (0+1)
Man of the Match
Sharks: Steven Moore
Warriors: Ben Campbell
As Whitley headed out with much the same line-up as that which faced Solway Sharks on Saturday evening, forwards Jordan Barnes, Niall Ryder and Jamie Ord were able to return to the Warriors’ line-up going into this fixture. The Sting, by comparison, made the trip to Hillheads with one less skater than Whitley, their seventeen-man team including starting netminder Warren Gilfoyle, Slovakian right winger Stanislav Lašček and promising young forward Joseph Colton.
Facing off against Sutton, the Warriors instantly went on the hunt for the opening goal as left winger Ben Campbell took to the ice alongside Player-Coach David Longstaff and fellow forward Shaun Kippin. Met with strong shot stopper Gilfoyle however, Whitley found that they could not gain the early foothold that they were searching for and instead endured the Sting’s low shots which forced a series of pad saves from netminder Richie Lawson. An interference penalty for Latvian defenceman Rolands Gritāns then placed Whitley on the penalty kill three minutes in but, working hard to parry the puck out of the danger zone, the Warriors returned to full strength with the deadlock intact and were soon awarded a power play of their own when Sutton’s forward George Crawshaw sat out for delaying the game. Though building with the additional skater, the Warriors only punished Sutton’s previous misdemeanour after the Sting’s return to full strength when Alternate Captain Sam Zajac rushed in on goal to fire home following neat play from Longstaff. Keen to retaliate, Sutton gained possession and equalised when seventeen-year-old Tyler Nixon released a fantastic shot which flew over Lawson on 12:53. Five seconds later, Barnes was sidelined for slashing to place the Sting on the power play but, yet again, the home team were on hand to ensure that their visitors could not capitalise. It was not long after Whitley returned to full strength however, that the side awarded Sutton the advantage once again as forward Kyle Ross was shown to the sin bin for misconduct. Gaining momentum in spite of this penalty kill, the Warriors scored forty two seconds later when Campbell persevered to eventually flick the puck past Gilfoyle on 18:05; Longstaff having come close to achieving a wraparound prior to this. Finishing the period with a fragile 2-1 lead, the Warriors filed from the ice with a distinct feeling that Sutton had far more to give.
Seeking to extend their lead, the Warriors made it 3-1 just twenty nine seconds into the second stanza when Campbell flashed the puck past Gilfoyle following sharp play from Zajac and Longstaff. It was not long after this goal that Whitley gained a power play as Lašček was punished for a tripping offence on 24:13. Making Whitley’s additional skater count, Kippin curved the puck around Gilfoyle to present his team with a three-goal lead courtesy of Longstaff and Campbell. With possession more even than before as Sutton battled back, the Sting were forced to endure another penalty kill when Nixon was sidelined for holding the stick. Again toiling in offence, the Warriors made Gilfoyle work to keep the puck out of his net but it was Simon Butterworth’s men who were next to find the target as Captain Scott Morris raced into Whitley’s defensive zone before playing a pass to fellow forward Dominic Martin who pocketed a shorthanded goal with six seconds of Nixon’s penalty remaining. Sensing danger, the Warriors opted for a timeout but, just thirty seven seconds after play resumed, forward Callum Watson was punished for holding. Although unable to score on the power play, Sutton’s creativity with the additional skater spurred them on to net just thirty two seconds after Watson’s return to the ice as forward Brady Doxey linked up with Alternate Captain Craig Elliott who bundled the puck home to make it 4-3 with less than two minutes of the period left to play.
The third period beginning with a spell of possession for Sutton who were buoyed by their positive conclusion to the middle stanza, Whitley found that they had their work cut out and struggled to build intensity after their return to the ice. However, despite this slow progress, the Warriors maintained their work ethic as Campbell and Longstaff teamed up yet again to assist defenceman Harry Harley who buried the puck on the backhand within close range of Gilfoyle’s net on 45:07. A misconduct penalty for Morris just over three minutes later then saw Whitley awarded a power play and the Warriors did not let this opportunity slip away from them as Kippin bagged his second of the evening courtesy of Longstaff who accomplished his sixth assist in the process. Though the 6-3 score line was a more comfortable one for the Warriors, Sutton were not about to give up and continued to test Lawson who was called into action time and again as Colton, Lašček and Swedish defenceman Jonas Fredriksson were amongst those searching for a way back into the game. Finally reaping the rewards of his efforts in front of goal, Fredriksson zipped a shot beyond Lawson from distance to take his side within two goals of the Warriors on 51:15. Whilst Sutton fought hard to chip away at their two-goal deficit, Whitley put the game beyond reach as Harley’s blue line shot left Gilfoyle with no chance of saving. The score line 7-4 with less than two minutes remaining, the Warriors saw out their victory to claim another two points which leaves the side in sixth position ahead of next weekend’s road trip to Billingham.
Shots on goal
Ben Campbell (2+3), Shaun Kippin (2+1), Harry Harley (2+0), Sam Zajac (1+1), David Longstaff (0+6)
Tyler Nixon (1+0), Dominic Martin (1+0), Jonas Fredriksson (1+0), Craig Elliot (1+0), Brady Doxey (0+1), Scott Morris (0+1)
Man of the Match
Warriors: Harry Harley
Sting: Jonas Fredriksson