Whitley Warriors achieved an 11-0 victory over Nottingham Lions in their 2019-20 season opener at Hillheads on Sunday evening.
Taking to the ice with new signings Callum Queenan, Ross Murray, Craig Johnson and Dan Pye in their line-up, the Warriors boasted a twenty-man team, although new addition Adam Finlinson was amongst those on the absentee list. By comparison, the Lions travelled a little lighter with fifteen skaters and netminders Joshua Crane and Luca Sheldon in their midst.
The first period began in a fast and furious fashion with Warriors Jordan Barnes, Martin Crammond and Murray engaging in some frantic play as they took to the ice for Whitley’s first shift. Several early attempts from the home team were easily collected by starting shot stopper Crane and the Lions were quick to counter through seventeen-year-old Thomas Palmer and defenceman Tyler Poole who both sought to test netminder Richie Lawson in response to Whitley’s offensive efforts. After some frenetic play, the Warriors eventually opened their account when Queenan picked out forward Phil Edgar who drove the puck low past Crane on 8:17. A clipping penalty for ‘D’ man Craig Johnson on 12:45 then handed the Lions a power play but chances for the visitors were few and far between as Whitley continued to tussle for possession around the Lions’ net. Following the termination of their power play, Nottingham were placed under increasing pressure as left winger Ben Campbell attempted to construct a goal-scoring opportunity for his teammates whilst forward Ben Richards and defenceman Josh Maddock both missed out on chances to double the Warriors’ tally. With each endeavour failing to have the desired impact for the home team, Whitley’s inability to make the most of their 22 shots, together with the Lions’ steadfastness in defence, left the Warriors with a narrow 1-0 lead ahead of the first interval.
Just thirty one seconds into the second period, Whitley were handed their first power play of the contest when seventeen-year-old forward Bailey Challans was sinbinned for tripping. Despite dominating possession in their offensive zone, the Warriors could not make the most of their additional skater and instead doubled their tally whilst shorthanded on 29:11, Player-Coach David Longstaff firing into the roof of Crane’s net as forward Kyle Ross served a minor penalty for a late hit. Though returning to full strength with a 2-0 lead, it was not long before the Warriors ran into penalty trouble again, this time Edgar punished for charging on 30:02. Undeterred, Whitley maintained possession to cause problems for Crane who was beaten just over a minute later when Latvian defenceman Rolands Gritāns rocketed a long range shot beyond the netminder to make it 3-0 on 31:17, Longstaff and blue liner Harry Harley with the assists. In control of the game, the Warriors added a fourth to the scoreboard fifty five seconds after Edgar returned to the ice, the versatile Canadian tapping the puck home following a neat pass from forward Callum Watson. Thirty seven seconds later, Richards netted following build up play from forwards Ross Douglass and Jamie Ord to make it 5-0, Douglass having seen his own attempt saved just moments before. With the game becoming an increasingly challenging one for the visitors, their frustration began to show when defenceman Poole pushed Crammond to the ice on 35:50, prompting a rapid response from Murray which resulted in roughing penalties for all three players and an additional ten-minute misconduct penalty for Crammond. These penalties stalled Whitley’s creative play and it was the Lions who came closest to scoring in the latter stages of the stanza as the puck struck the bar to leave the score line at 5-0 going into the third period.
Allowing netminder Jordan Boyle some ice time in the final stanza, the Warriors took to the ice with the view to build on their positive performance but a late hit from forward Niall Ryder reduced the side to four men on 41:29. Despite this, Whitley threw themselves into offence and just over a minute later, Longstaff bagged his second shorthanded goal of the evening as he turned the puck into the net with support from Edgar and Gritāns. Eight seconds later, Watson gained possession from faceoff and raced unassisted into his offensive zone to sneak the puck between Crane and his right post. This goal prompted a change of netminder for Nottingham as shot stopper Luca Sheldon was given ice time in place of Crane but it was not long before ‘D’ man Harley found a way past the youngster as he fired a superb blue line shot into the Lions’ net to make it 8-0, Johnson and Murray assisting. Exactly sixty seconds later, defenceman Dan Pye’s speculative shot struck Sheldon’s pad and trickled behind the netminder. This encouraged Holland to try his luck and the captain came close as his shot chimed the bar. An interference penalty for Ryder then followed just past the midway point of the period but the Lions could not make their advantage count and instead conceded a tenth goal shortly after Whitley returned to full strength, Harley collecting his second of the evening with another swift shot cutting through Nottingham’s defence on 55:29. The game all but won, the Warriors then completed their scoring through forward Queenan who netted from close range with less than two minutes remaining to finalise Whitley’s 11-0 victory.
Shots on goal
Phil Edgar (2+1), Harry Harley (2+1),David Longstaff (2+1),Callum Watson (1+2), Rolands Gritāns (1+2), Callum Queenan (1+1),Dan Pye (1+0),Ben Richards(1+0), Dean Holland (0+2), Jamie Ord (0+2),Craig Johnson (0+1),Liam Smedley (0+1), Ross Douglass (0+1),Josh Maddock (0+1),Ross Murray (0+1)
Man of the Match
Warriors: Craig Johnson
Lions: Josh Crane