Whitley Warriors achieved a 4-0 win against Nottingham Lions at the National Ice Centre on Sunday evening.
Heading into this fixture with sixteen skaters, and Mark Turnbull as backup netminder to Jordan Boyle, the Warriors found suspended forward Ryan Sample, Alternate Captain Jordan Barnes and defenceman Ross Connolly amongst those missing from their line-up, although they were able to match Nottingham in number.
Forcing Nottingham’s netminder Miles Finney into the action from the outset, Warriors’ left winger Ben Campbell, Captain Dean Holland and Alternate Captain Sam Zajac were amongst those challenging the Lions’ defence as the first period unfolded. After Zajac’s shot from the point failed to make its mark, Holland’s struggle to slot home allowed Nottingham’s defenceman Tyler Poole to burst forward but, unable to sufficiently trouble Boyle, the Lions once again saw play return to their defensive zone. Campbell’s trickery presented forward Shaun Kippin with a fantastic chance to take the lead but a double save from Finney ensured that this was not possible. Absorbing this pressure, the Lions forced another of Campbell’s shots wide and soon gained a chance of their own as eighteen-year-old forward Jack Crowston raced up the ice on the breakaway. Another opportunity arose for Nottingham shortly afterwards when defenceman Callum Medcalf left Boyle scrambling for the puck before Alternate Captain Joseph Gretton hit the netminder’s blocker. Keen to return to their offensive zone, the Warriors’ rapid play resulted in forward Niall Ryder hitting the post but still the side could not break the 0-0 deadlock.
As the second stanza unfolded, Lions’ forward Thomas Palmer saw his chance deflected towards Boyle before Whitley cycled the puck which resulted in shots from Kippin and Latvian defenceman Rolands Gritāns. After some neat offensive work of their own, Nottingham lost the puck to forward Callum Watson who failed to hit home after racing down the wing. Despite this, the Warriors did not let up and their efforts eventually paid off when Campbell lifted a cross-crease pass over Finney’s glove on 24:19 to make it 1-0. Countering, the Lions almost equalised when Palmer’s pass to forward Bailey Challans made life difficult for Boyle as the loose puck was frantically sought by both sides. A slashing penalty for Kippin on 31:02 then gave Nottingham an advantage but, shortly after play was halted to deal with a cut to Gretton’s ear, Medcalf was punished for high sticks to see each team reduced to four men. Moments after Kippin’s return, Nottingham hit the post on the penalty kill and almost equalised again when Crowston went one-on-one with Boyle. Quick to counter, Lions’ blue liner Tyler Poole was then hindered by Gritāns on the breakaway to see the Latvian incur a hooking penalty but, effectively clearing their zone, Whitley headed in at the break with their 1-0 lead intact.
After attempting to level the scoring early in the third period, Lions’ blue liner Medcalf was sidelined for kneeing. Placed on a power play, the Warriors were relentless in offence and a shot from Zajac resulted in frantic action from both teams, causing Finney’s net to be pushed off its moorings. In the confusion, Campbell slipped the puck home to snatch his second goal of the evening on 45:10 which was given despite the chaos in and around Finney’s net. Disappointed to have conceded in this manner, Lions’ ‘D’ man Medcalf engaged in a heated exchange with Watson but both players kept their emotions in check to avoid any punishment. A holding call for defenceman Martin Crammond then placed the Warriors on the penalty kill but the side continued to push for a third goal and came close to achieving it when blue liner Harry Harley’s shot rebounded off the post following Finney’s save. A tripping call against Challans then allowed Campbell to claim his hat trick as he slotted through the five-hole on 50:42. Though this goal prompted a timeout for the Lions, matters were made worse for the side when Poole picked up a hooking penalty shortly after play resumed. Successfully killing this penalty, Nottingham continued to battle the wave of Whitley’s offensive play and gained an advantage of their own when Campbell was sinbinned for hooking on 55:57. Thirty five seconds before this penalty terminated, Watson joined his teammate to enhance the Lions’ advantage. Nottingham’s subsequent attack resulted in Whitley racing to the defence of netminder Boyle and, although only Palmer was sidelined for his part in this incident, Medcalf incurred a holding penalty in the final minute to hand the Warriors a 5-on-3 power play. Encouraged by this, Harley made it 4-0 with just thirty two seconds remaining to wrap up Whitley’s victory. Voicing his concerns after the final buzzer, Nottingham’s Captain Luke Thomas incurred a game misconduct penalty following his team’s difficult defeat.
Shots on goal
Ben Campbell (3+0), Harry Harley (1+1), Sam Zajac (0+2), Rolands Gritāns (0+2), Callum Watson (0+1)
Man of the Match
Lions: Kieran Raynor
Warriors: Ben Campbell