Whitley Warriors bowed out of the playoff semi-finals after a 17-6 defeat on aggregate to Hull Pirates over two legs.
Making the trip to Hull Arena on Saturday evening with a strong line-up which included shot stopper Jordan Boyle, left winger Ben Campbell and skilled forward Callum Watson, Whitley Warriors were prepared for a challenging weekend as they faced off against Jason Hewitt’s seventeen-man team.
Taking to the ice with a clear game plan, Player-Coach David Longstaff and his team sought to make life as difficult as possible for the Pirates but a late hit from forward Kyle Ross on 2:23 immediately handed the home team an advantage, the side wearing down Whitley’s penalty kill to snatch the lead thirteen seconds before the Warriors returned to full strength; right winger James Archer beating Boyle following build up play from forward Lee Bonner and Czech left winger Lubomir Korhon. However, just forty nine seconds later, the Pirates awarded Whitley a power play when right winger Bobby Chamberlain made way for roughing. Quick to capitalise, the Warriors levelled the scoring on 5:51 as defencemen Harry Harley and Sam Zajac teamed up to carve out the perfect opportunity for Ben Campbell who outwitted netminder Ashley Smith to make it 1-1. This goal surprised the opposition into further attacking play, the home team rallying to fire at Boyle who endured the onslaught alongside his hardworking defence. A delaying the game penalty for Latvian ‘D’ man Rolands Gritāns on 11:51 saw the Warriors go shorthanded for a second time but the Pirates scored only to see their effort ruled out for high sticks. Continuing to dominate in front of goal after Whitley had returned to full strength, the Pirates outshot their visitors by 19 shots to 6 but Boyle absorbed this pressure to keep the score line at 1-1 at the first interval.
Hull stunned the Warriors just twenty one seconds into the second period when Swedish winger Sonny Karlsson received the puck from Player-Coach Jason Hewitt to allow his team to edge into the lead. Despite losing left winger Matty Davies to the sin bin for tripping just moments later, the Pirates remained in control to establish a two-goal cushion on 24:39 as defenceman Kevin Phillips added his name to the scoresheet; Davies making amends for his misdemeanour with an assist alongside ‘D’ man Lee Haywood. Less than three minutes later, Phillips bagged his second goal of the evening, Davies assisting alongside Czech forward Korhon to make it 4-1 on this occasion. The game becoming fiery, the contenders clashed just before the halfway point of the period, with Canadian Phil Edgar punished for crosschecking whilst fellow forward Shaun Kippin and Pirates Jonathan Kirk and Chamberlain each received minor roughing penalties. However, it was not long before this incident favoured Hull as Captain Dean Holland incurred a ten-minute misconduct penalty on 30:58 to further hinder his team. Remaining strong, the Warriors challenged Smith whilst breaking down the Pirates’ attacking play so that Hull were only able to make it 5-1 on 37:51 when Chamberlain extended his team’s lead, Haywood achieving his third assist of the evening after playing the puck to Karlsson.
With much work to do in the third period as a result, Whitley were keen to hit Hull hard and did so as Gritāns worked with versatile Warrior Martin Crammond to set up forward Callum Watson on 41:37. Any chance of a comeback from Whitley was soon quashed however, when the Pirates scored two goals in quick succession; Chamberlain found the target assisted by Phillips and Karlsson before Korhon netted eighty one seconds later to make it 7-2, Bonner working with Davies who notched his third assist of the evening. Fighting back, Whitley narrowed their deficit to four goals just before the midpoint of the period when Campbell collected his second goal of the evening courtesy of Kippin. Three minutes later, Haywood reaped the rewards of his efforts to restore his team’s five-goal lead. Shortly after this goal was scored, the game became heated for a second time and both Gritāns and Archer were sidelined for roughing, leading to a spell of 4-on-4 play. The Pirates were in no way disadvantaged by the loss of their skater however, as the side completed their scoring through Korhon who buried the puck just over a minute later after linking up with skilled forward Davies for a second time. Try as they might, the Warriors could not add to their tally to leave the score line at 9-3 ahead of their home game against the Pirates on Sunday evening.
Shots on goal
Lubomir Korhon (2+2), Kevin Phillips (2+1), Bobby Chamberlain (2+0), Lee Haywood (1+3), Sonny Karlsson (1+2), James Archer (1+1), Matthew Davies (0+4), Lee Bonner (0+2), Jason Hewitt (0+1), Jordan Fisher (0+1)
Ben Campbell (2+0), Callum Watson (1+0), Sam Zajac (0+1), Shaun Kippin (0+1), Martin Crammond (0+1), Harry Harley (0+1), Rolands Gritāns (0+1)
Man of the Match
Pirates: Kevin Phillips
Warriors: Ben Campbell
Trailing 9-3 going into the second leg of their semi-final against the Pirates, Whitley drew a tripping penalty from Lee Haywood in the opening minutes as the defenceman cut down skilled left winger Ben Campbell. Struggling to beat netminder Ashley Smith on their power play, the Warriors suffered for their inability to capitalise when Swedish winger Sonny Karlsson opened his team’s account on 5:38, following some rapid play between Player-Coach Jason Hewitt and right winger Bobby Chamberlain in front of Jordan Boyle’s net. Just over a minute later, Chamberlain doubled his side’s tally when he raced into Whitley’s defensive zone to slot the puck past Boyle, forward Lee Bonner and shot stopper Smith assisting. A hooking penalty for Alternate Captain Jordan Barnes swiftly followed on 8:41 to award Hull a power play but, forty nine seconds before this penalty was served, defenceman Josh Maddock was sinbinned for a high sticks offence after a clash in front of Boyle’s net. The game growing tempestuous, Barnes made a hard hit on Hewitt who later exchanged words with Canadian Phil Edgar whilst forward Kyle Ross was pushed off balance as he came close to scoring. The Warriors went shorthanded moments later as defenceman Liam Smedley was sidelined for interference on 15:04. A confrontation between forward Shaun Kippin and right winger James Archer resulted in minor penalties for both players fifty seconds later but matters were made worse for Whitley when Smith’s net found its way into Campbell’s path, the Warrior’s reaction resulting in a minor misconduct penalty. After working to kill this penalty, Barnes picked out Campbell as he was released from the sin bin, the left winger then taking his revenge by steering the puck beyond Smith to make it 2-1 thirty two seconds before the first interval.
Hull opened the second period with a goal as Czech forward Lubomir Korhon fired past Boyle fifty seven seconds in, assisted by defenceman Kevin Phillips and Hewitt. The score line 3-1, Whitley looked to narrow the gap once again, with blue liner Ross Connolly forcing a save from Smith whilst Player-Coach David Longstaff attempted to set up Campbell without success. A crosscheck from forward Callum Watson in front of Smith’s net then reduced Whitley to four skaters on 23:25 but the Warriors showed resolve to prevent their visitors from extending their lead on the power play. Though the Pirates challenged Boyle through Korhon, Chamberlain and Karlsson, the side could not further their attacking play and instead Whitley continued to put up a fight in front of Smith’s net, with Edgar and Watson amongst those pushing for the Warriors’ second goal. Dangerous on the breakaway however, Hull piled the pressure onto Boyle, Hewitt appearing particularly intimidating. Seeking to put a stop to this behaviour, Alternate Captain Sam Zajac reacted to Bonner’s threatening approach towards Boyle after the netminder made yet another impressive save. The Pirates soon made it 4-1 on 33:16 when Korhon slotted through the five-hole following skilled play from forward Matty Davies. Though continuing to give their all to outshoot the Pirates by 17 shots to 9 in this period, the Warriors headed in on the wrong end of the 4-1 score line.
Though making a positive start to the third period, the Warriors’ hard work was undone when Korhon completed his hat-trick by firing the puck to Boyle’s right on 44:51 courtesy of Haywood and Davies. Less than two minutes later, the Warriors conceded a sixth, this time Boyle stretching to save Chamberlain’s shot which was tapped in by Hewitt. After Whitley switched Boyle for backup netminder Rory Dunn, the side were spurred on to reduce their deficit seventy two seconds later as Campbell unleashed a shot to the right of Smith to make it 6-2, Longstaff and Maddock assisting. It took all of thirty one seconds for Hull to hit back however, this time Alternate Captain Samuel Towner feeding the puck to stand-in Captain Jordan Fisher who capitalised. A boarding offence from Zajac moments later caused tempers to flare as Haywood’s reaction was matched by forward Niall Ryder on 52:25; Zajac earning himself 2+10 for boarding and Ryder incurring five minutes plus a game misconduct whilst Haywood was sidelined for roughing. Though capitalising just eight seconds later as Chamberlain grabbed his second goal of the game, the Pirates ran into further penalty trouble when Hewitt crosschecked Barnes. A heated exchange between Edgar and Davies then led to Edgar dropping his gloves which saw the pair punished for roughing and misconduct respectively. This turn of events only made the home team more determined to have the final say as Watson eased through the Pirates’ defence to fire home with support from Maddock and forward DJ Good on 57:02 to make it 17-6 on aggregate when the final buzzer sounded.
Following this game, Whitley turned their attention to a send-off for long-serving forward Shaun Kippin who has decided to hang up his skates, making this season his final campaign as a Warrior.
Shots on goal
Ben Campbell (2+0), Callum Watson (1+0), Josh Maddock (0+2), DJ Good (0+1), Jordan Barnes (0+1), David Longstaff (0+1)
Lubomir Korhon (3+0), Bobby Chamberlain (2+2), Jason Hewitt (1+2), Sonny Karlsson (1+1), Jordan Fisher (1+0), Lee Haywood (0+2), Matthew Davies (0+2), Samuel Towner (0+1), Ashley Smith (0+1), Kevin Phillips (0+1), Lee Bonner (0+1), Jonathan Kirk (0+1)
Man of the Match
Warriors: Jordan Barnes
Pirates: Lubomir Korhon