Whitley Warriors triumphed 7-4 over Solihull Barons on Saturday evening in the side’s only fixture of the weekend following the postponement of Sunday’s home game against Blackburn Hawks due to adverse weather conditions.
Whitley Warriors travelled to Hobs Moat Road on Saturday evening with a shorter bench of sixteen skaters, with Captain Dean Holland, Alternate Captain Jordan Barnes, forwards Callum Watson, Adam Finlinson and Jamie Ord and defenceman Liam Smedley amongst those missing out on the fixture. By comparison, Solihull had one less skater than the Warriors, with Swedish forward Niklas Ottosson, top goal scorer Tom Soar and starting netminder Sam Hewitt amongst those at their disposal.
A hooking penalty for Barons’ forward Adam Brittle just forty six seconds into the clash immediately set the tone of the game and, unable to capitalise on the power play, the Warriors were left to rue their missed chances when forward Callum Bowley beat netminder Richie Lawson blocker side to make it 1-0 to the home team on 5:25. The period became increasingly challenging for Whitley from there as Solihull began to utilise the physicality of their play, pushing forward Ross Douglass into the net and making hard hits against Kyle Ross and Rolands Gritāns. An interference penalty for defenceman Richard Crowe followed on 11:38 but just thirty six seconds before Solihull’s penalty ceased, forward Matthew Maurice drew a penalty from left winger Ben Campbell who had retaliated to the Baron’s hard-hitting play. Whilst Whitley were able to quash Solihull’s subsequent power play, Canadian forward Phil Edgar reduced his team to four men two minutes after Campbell returned to the ice following a holding offence. Just twenty one seconds later, Ottosson doubled the Barons’ lead, going it alone to bury past Lawson on 17:26. Reassured by their two-goal cushion, Solihull broke away from the Warriors again, this time forward Philip Mulcahy attempting to beat Lawson only for there to be a collision in front of the net, leading to Edgar being ejected from the game for a check from behind. With sixty three seconds remaining in the period, Whitley were dismayed to be on the wrong side of the 2-0 score line as the players headed in to allow blood to be cleared from the ice.
Just thirty three seconds into the middle stanza, defenceman Craig Johnson picked up a holding penalty to give Solihull a 5-on-3 power play. A roughing penalty for Bowley on 21:56 then left the Barons with just one man more than their opposition but this was enough for the home team to find the target ten seconds later as forward Daniel Mulcahy buried his unassisted shot past Lawson to present his side with a 3-0 lead. Taking immediate action, Campbell linked up with forward Callum Queenan and defenceman Josh Maddock to chip away at Whitley’s growing deficit, hitting the target just nineteen seconds after the Barons had netted their third. Encouraged by this goal, Campbell became a constant presence on the ice and it paid off on 26:48, forward Niall Ryder and stand-in Captain Shaun Kippin assisting the left winger who took his team to within a goal of Solihull. At the halfway point of the period, forward Paul Stanley incurred a penalty of 2+10 for holding but, unable to make their power play count, the Warriors gained the advantage of an additional skater again on 34:45 as Maurice was sidelined for the same offence. Unable to capitalise, Whitley remained one goal behind their opposition as they trailed 3-2 at the second interval.
Enjoying much ice time in this fixture, Campbell and forward Ross Murray continued to work extremely hard in offence and it paid off on 42:32 when the left winger bagged his hat-trick to level the scoring, the puck striking the post on its way into the net. Just under two minutes later, the Barons hit back to regain their lead as forward Adam Brittle crashed the puck past Lawson for 4-3. Unrelenting, Campbell wove a path through Solihull’s defence to equalise for a second time fifty six seconds later, claiming his fourth goal of the game in the process. Three minutes later, the Warriors took the lead for the first time in the encounter when Lawson rushed out to collect the puck from the high slot before finding Murray who netted to make it 5-4. As a consequence of his goal celebration, Murray was sidelined for unsportsmanlike conduct to hand the Barons a power play. Ottosson broke clear of Whitley’s defence and, as the Warriors were deemed to have extinguished Solihull’s chance unfairly, a penalty shot was awarded to Bowley which Lawson calmly saved to keep his team in the lead. Soon after, Solihull lost Philip Mulcahy to the sin bin for interference twenty seven seconds after Murray’s return. In the same instance, Maurice was ejected from the game further to incurring a penalty of 2+10 for abuse of an official after sharing his thoughts on the matter. Making the most of the 5-on-3 power play which followed, Whitley extended their lead to 6-4, Campbell the man on target once again after slipping the puck past Hewitt on 52:31, Murray assisting the left winger for a third time with support from skilled defenceman Harry Harley. Shortly afterwards, both teams ran into penalty trouble as Maddock received two minutes for slashing whilst Ottosson was made to serve a penalty of 2+2 for hooking and slashing on 54:43. Calling a timeout thirty two seconds before Maddock’s return to the ice, the Warriors were eager to avoid complacency in the final minutes but need not have feared as they saw out the game on a power play after Philip Mulcahy was sidelined for a late hit and abuse of an official. Capitalising, Murray picked out the perfect pass to Campbell who claimed his double hat-trick to give Whitley a 7-4 lead which put the final result beyond doubt. On the back of this goal, Mulcahy was mistakenly let out of the sin bin and was ejected from the game for abuse of an official after venting his feelings once again. Having shown so much character after a disappointing first period, the Warriors were delighted when the final buzzer sounded to call time on their victory, with this the first time that Whitley have won at Hobs Moat Road since their 6-2 win on the 13th September 2015.
Shots on goal
Niklas Ottosson (1+1), Daniel Mulcahy (1+1), Adam Brittle (1+0), Callum Bowley (1+0), Marcus Maynard (0+1), Philip Mulcahy (0+1)
Ben Campbell (6+0), Ross Murray (1+4), Harry Harley (0+2), Josh Maddock (0+1), Rolands Gritāns (0+1), Niall Ryder (0+1), Richie Lawson (0+1), Callum Queenan (0+1), Shaun Kippin (0+1)
Warriors : 37
Man of the Match
Barons: Niklas Ottosson
Warriors: Ben Campbell