Whitley Warriors achieved maximum points in a double header against Sutton Sting to return to the top of NIHL North 1 as the Hillheads outfit followed Saturday’s 10-3 road victory with a 7-2 home win on Sunday evening.
Travelling to Ice Sheffield on Saturday with twenty skaters and netminders Richie Lawson and Jordan Boyle, Whitley Warriors found themselves up against a strong Sutton side which included Slovakian imports Adrian Palak and Stanislav Lašček, Captain Scott Morris and starting shot stopper Nicholas Winters.
Whitley made an extremely positive start to the game, scoring just under two minutes after facing off against Simon Butterworth’s men as forward Ross Murray and Canadian Phil Edgar combined to set up left winger Ben Campbell. Building on this early momentum, the Warriors doubled their lead through forward Shaun Kippin who beat Winters on 4:24 to achieve his first goal since returning to the club in December. Relentless, Whitley made it 3-0 when Campbell turned assist for Murray on 8:22 but just thirty two seconds later, Sutton replied through forward Oliver Mitchell. Despite this, and a clipping penalty incurred by versatile Warrior Kyle Ross on 10:37, Whitley remained in control of the game to extend their lead to 4-1 fifty four seconds after returning to full strength, Murray on target for a second time courtesy of Campbell and Edgar. Whitley were then given a 5-on-3 power play when Lašček and Morris were sidelined forty seven seconds apart for holding and interference respectively. It was therefore little surprise that the visitors capitalised, blue liner Harry Harley working with Captain Dean Holland and fellow defenceman Rolands Gritāns to fire a shot past Winters on 17:45. Still one man down as a result of this, the Sting realised their need to retaliate and did so, Palak working with Jones to bury a shorthanded shot past Lawson on 18:51 to make the score line 5-2 as the teams headed in at the first interval.
On their return to the ice, Sutton decided to start with nineteen-year-old netminder Lewis King in net. A second holding penalty for Lašček on 20:16 gave Whitley a power play and the Warriors were efficient with the additional skater, scoring just twenty nine seconds into their advantage as Campbell claimed his second goal of the evening. Just over three minutes later, Ross Douglass benefitted from build-up play between fellow forward Anthony Wetherell and defenceman Gary Walker to add a seventh to Whitley’s tally. A hooking penalty for Gritāns just after the midpoint of the period gave the Sting a much-needed power play but Sutton were quick to rue their inability to make this count when the Warriors netted just over a minute later to make it 8-2 as Campbell completed his hat-trick with assistance from Edgar and defenceman Josh Maddock on 34:43. A delay of the game penalty for Harley soon followed but again Whitley quashed Sutton’s power play to file from the ice with a comfortable 8-2 lead at the second break.
Keen to seize two points, the Warriors continued to put pressure on shot stopper King in the third period. Handed a power play on 44:21 when defenceman Tyler Nixon was punished for hooking, Whitley attempted to make the most of their advantage but could only find a way past King just over three minutes after their opposition returned to full strength, forward Callum Watson hitting the target to give his side a 9-2 lead. This goal prompted the Warriors to award Boyle some ice time in place of Lawson who had faced just three shots from the Sting in the first ten minutes of the period. A hooking penalty for Lašček followed and, unable to capitalise, the Warriors went shorthanded forty three seconds later, awarding Sutton a power play which allowed Lašček to make amends for his earlier misdemeanours with a goal scored on 55:23, Jones picking up his third assist in the process. Persistent, Whitley would not give up on a tenth goal and eventually reached double figures twenty two seconds before the final buzzer sounded, Gritāns receiving the puck from Holland to find ‘D’ man Craig Johnson who calmly collected his second goal of his league campaign to finalise Whitley’s 10-3 win.
Shots on goal
Oliver Mitchell (1+0), Adrian Palak (1+0), Stanislav Lašček (1+0), Sam Jones (0+3), Scott Morris (0+1), Josh Yeardley (0+1)
Ben Campbell (3+2), Ross Murray (2+2), Harry Harley (1+1), Craig Johnson (1+0), Callum Watson (1+0), Shaun Kippin (1+0), Ross Douglass (1+0), Dean Holland (0+4), Phil Edgar (0+3), Rolands Gritāns (0+3), Kyle Ross (0+1), Anthony Wetherell (0+1), Josh Maddock (0+1), Gary Walker (0+1)
Man of the Match
Sting: Hadden Bolstridge
Warriors: Liam Smedley
Returning to Hillheads on Sunday to face Sutton for a second time, Whitley had nineteen skaters available to them, including Captain Dean Holland, Latvian defenceman Rolands Gritāns and youngster Thomas Fraser. The Sting, by comparison, travelled with a short bench of twelve skaters, the side missing Slovakian winger Adrian Palak, Alternate Captain Lloyd Gibson and defenceman Thomas Relf to name but a few.
Quick off the mark, the Warriors scored just forty four seconds into the game when Holland picked out fellow forward Callum Queenan who gave his side a 1-0 lead. As soon as play resumed, the Sting hunted for an equaliser, Captain Scott Morris coming closest for the visitors by forcing a pad save from shot stopper Richie Lawson. However, maintaining their fluid passing play, the Warriors continued to appear dangerous, Canadian Phil Edgar linking up well with left winger Ben Campbell who almost found the back of Lewis King’s net. Splitting Sutton’s defence soon after, ‘D’ man Gritāns sliced a shot past King on 6:28 to double Whitley’s lead. Beginning to dominate possession in their offensive zone, Whitley grabbed a third goal just over two minutes later when defenceman Harry Harley zipped a blue line shot into King’s net to prompt a time out from the visitors. Rallying, Sutton attempted to get a foothold in the game by increasing their offensive work in front of Lawson’s net whilst battling to break down Whitley’s attacking play. Forward Ross Murray pounced on the puck to go one-on-one with netminder King who stopped his shot; Campbell then collected the rebound and mistakenly fired the puck at Murray’s hand, forcing the Warrior to head back to the bench. A shot was skimmed across King’s crease by forward Callum Watson but he could not find a teammate to tap the puck into the net. With so many chances falling their way, the Warriors were pleased to be handed a power play when defenceman Jonathon Williamson was sinbinned for delaying the game on 19:07. Just thirty eight seconds into their advantage, Edgar picked out Campbell who beat King on his left side to make it 4-0 ahead of the second period.
Starting the middle stanza in much the same fashion as the first, Whitley netted just forty five seconds in as Campbell swiftly achieved his second of the evening courtesy of Holland and Edgar, the former accomplishing his fourth assist of the game in the process. Instilling some hope into his team, Slovakian forward Stanislav Lašček slowly wove his way around the Warriors’ defence to coolly bury the puck past Lawson on 24:05, making it 5-1. This spurred on Sutton and, as the side bore down on Whitley’s net again, defenceman Kyle Ross took action, flooring his opponent to earn himself a holding penalty on 26:03. Though shorthanded, the Warriors took the opportunity to surprise Sutton, Campbell playing a pass across to forward Shaun Kippin who flicked the puck to King’s left to make it 6-1 forty five seconds into their penalty kill. With Ross still serving his penalty, the Sting were keen to make their advantage count in spite of this setback and did so, defenceman Cameron Glasby teaming up with Lašček to see forward Oliver Mitchell double his side’s tally on 27:30. With play evening up in the aftermath of this goal, the Warriors had their work cut out in defence at times. However, in the latter stages of the period, Harley fired a shot across goal, forward Ben Richards saw his effort stopped by King and Gritāns demonstrated his skill once again to almost outsmart Sutton’s defence. With no further scoring in the period, the Warriors headed in with a comfortable 6-2 lead.
In the early stages of the period, Whitley tried to extend their lead, Watson and seventeen-year-old Fraser working at speed in an attempt to find the net whilst Murray, Campbell and Holland remained a threat in front of goal. After some strong attacking play from the Warriors, Sutton broke away from their defensive zone but quickly found their efforts quashed. Aggrieved by the manner in which this was achieved, Mitchell vented his feelings to incur a ten-minute misconduct penalty on 44:13. Just before the midpoint of the period, Sutton ran into further penalty trouble when Lašček was punished for delaying the game. This allowed the Warriors a power play and Gritāns made his side’s advantage count, netting from Harley’s rebound on 51:23. The game all but won at 7-2, Whitley picked up their pace, Watson and Fraser continuing to work well together whilst Edgar came close to achieving an eighth goal for his side. With no further scoring in the game, Whitley were elated to secure their 7-2 victory over Sutton which sees the side move to the top of table ahead of Solway Sharks with two games in hand on the Dumfries outfit.
Shots on goal
Ben Campbell (2+2), Rolands Gritāns (2+0), Harry Harley (1+1), Callum Queenan (1+0), Shaun Kippin (1+0), Dean Holland (0+4), Craig Johnson (0+1), Josh Maddock(0+1), Phil Edgar (0+1), Ben Richards(0+1)
Stanislav Lascek (1+1), Oliver Mitchell (1+1), Scott Morris (0+1), Cameron Glasby (0+1)
Man of the Match
Warriors: Ben Richards
Sting: Lewis King