Whitley Warriors suffered a 9-2 loss to Sheffield Steeldogs at Hillheads on Sunday evening.
Heading out onto the ice with a line-up which was missing Latvian defenceman Rolands Gritāns and Alternate Captain Jordan Barnes, Whitley Warriors were pleased to benefit from the return of forward Ryan Sample as they confronted Sheffield’s sixteen-man team.
With both teams raring to go from faceoff, the opening moments of the game saw the Steeldogs snatch the lead in style when Player-Coach Ben Morgan pounced on Alternate Captain Ashley Calvert’s rebounded shot to fire through the five-hole on 1:22 as netminder Jordan Boyle attempted a second save. Having enjoyed some positive play of their own in the early stages of the period, the Warriors remained determined to put shot stopper Dmitri Zimozdra to the test but found their efforts absorbed by the Steeldog’s effective netminding. With Whitley’s many chances failing to make their mark, the Warriors were exasperated when Sheffield doubled their lead on 7:28, this time skilled forward Duncan Speirs receiving a neat pass from youngster Alex Graham before finding the target. A power play then arose for David Longstaff’s men just over a minute later when Calvert was sinbinned for a tripping offence but, pushed back into their defensive zone, the Warriors could not capitalise. After dealing with the attacking play of Phil Edgar, Ben Campbell and Callum Watson, Sheffield remained clinical to make it 3-0 on 15:17 when forward Nathan Salem sliced the puck beneath Boyle, prompting a change of netminder for the home team as Mark Turnbull was brought into the action. Just over two minutes later, the Warriors hit back with a spell of possession in their offensive zone which culminated in defenceman Harry Harley slipping the puck to forward DJ Good who unleashed a low shot from distance to beat Zimozdra. A high sticks call against Salem then resulted in a second power play for the Warriors but the side’s quick passing play and blue line shots failed to have the desired impact in front of Zimozdra’s crowded net to leave Sheffield’s 3-1 lead intact.
Beginning the second stanza with twenty seconds of their power play remaining, the Warriors attempted to chip away at their deficit, with Alternate Captain Sam Zajac, Captain Dean Holland and Campbell amongst those searching for Whitley’s second goal. In spite of their efforts however, the Steeldogs re-established their three-goal cushion when Calvert went blocker side to beat Turnbull on 25:08 with support from forward James Spurr and Slovakian Milan Kolena. Fifty five seconds later, Morgan was sidelined for tripping to hand Whitley a power play and the outfit built sufficient momentum to make it 4-2 eleven seconds after Sheffield’s return to full strength, Campbell finding the top right of Zimozdra’s net on 28:14 courtesy of Zajac and forward Shaun Kippin. A hooking penalty for Edgar then reduced Whitley to four men just after the midpoint of the period but a strong penalty kill was followed up by a breakaway chance for the Warriors as forward Kyle Ross gained possession at centre ice. Tripped by Steeldogs’ Alternate Captain Tim Smith in the process, Ross secured his team a power play but Holland soon followed suit after incurring a slashing penalty. With each side missing a skater, Sheffield added a fifth to their tally, this time forward Cameron Brownley shooting to the left of Turnbull from close range on 35:39. Continuing to dominate before the break, the Steeldogs made it 6-2 as Graham tipped defenceman Thomas Barry’s blue line shot into the net in the final minute of the period.
Allowing Boyle to replace Turnbull, Whitley set out to recover lost ground early in the third period but, despite some positive play from the Warriors as the stanza unfolded, Sheffield extended their lead when forward Andrew Hirst netted on 43:56. Whitley continued to persevere however, with an attempt from Sample skimming wide of its mark before Ross’ rebounded shot was collected by Zimozdra. Soon after, Watson engaged in a heated exchange with Kolena to see both players incur minors for delaying the game. Brownley then joined his teammate after a holding offence against Ross on 47:52 but the Warriors ran into some penalty trouble of their own in the fifty third minute when Good was called to the sin bin for slashing. Eight seconds later, Holland slashed Slovakian Adrian Palak across the arm to receive the same punishment, awarding the visitors a 5-on-3 power play in the process. Unsurprisingly, the Steeldogs took just fifty three seconds to capitalise as Palak sought retribution with a goal, Morgan bagging his fourth assist of the evening following a pass from Captain Lewis Bell. Trailing by six goals, Whitley were already resigned to their defeat when Speirs’ unassisted effort beat Boyle on 57:21 to complete Sheffield’s 9-2 victory.
Shots on goal
DJ Good (1+0), Ben Campbell (1+0), Sam Zajac (0+1), Shaun Kippin (0+1), Harry Harley (0+1)
Duncan Speirs (2+1), Ben Morgan (1+4), Adrian Palak (1+2), Alex Graham (1+1), Nathan Salem (1+1), Andrew Hirst (1+0), Ashley Calvert (1+0), Milan Kolena (0+2), Lewis Bell (0+1), Cameron Brownley (1+0), Thomas Barry (0+1), James Spurr (0+1)
Man of the Match
Warriors: Sam Zajac
Steeldogs: Duncan Speirs