Whitley Warriors accomplished a convincing 7-0 road win against Blackburn Hawks in the final league game of their 2019-20 campaign on Sunday evening.
Making the trip with seventeen skaters further to starting netminder Richie Lawson and backup Jordan Boyle, Whitley Warriors found themselves without suspended forwards Callum Watson and Niall Ryder, defencemen Craig Johnson, Dan Pye and Josh Maddock and injured left winger Ben Campbell as they took to the ice to face Blackburn’s seventeen-man team which included Czech forward Petr Valusiak, Player-Coach James Neil and netminder Harrison Walker.
After an even start to the first period, the Warriors endured a penalty kill on 6:28 when forward Shaun Kippin was called to the sin bin for tripping and, whilst working hard to prevent the home team from scoring, Whitley also created their fair share of chances with forward Callum Queenan coming close to achieving a shorthanded goal and Latvian defenceman Rolands Gritāns breaking into his offensive zone to pose a threat. Just after the midpoint of the period, it was the turn of forward James Riddoch to be sidelined for a slashing offence and Kippin tried to open Whitley’s account on the power play, hammering the puck at netminder Walker who remained sturdy between the pipes. As the period progressed, Whitley countered after Lawson was forced to make a kick save, firing at Walker who was unmoved by this attacking play. Moments later, a shot from Gritāns was pounced upon by Captain Dean Holland who presented his side with a 1-0 lead, Canadian Phil Edgar also assisting on 17:58. After waiting so long to net their first goal of the game, Whitley’s second arrived exactly one minute later, defenceman Harry Harley doubling his side’s tally to put some distance between the Warriors and their hosts before the first interval.
Picking up from where they left off on their return to the ice, Whitley continued to have the upper hand in the contest and achieved their third goal when the puck trickled into the net courtesy of Edgar on 22:20 following a pass from forward Ross Murray. Sixty four seconds later, forward Jamie Ord buried the puck to make it 4-0 after supporting play from forward Callum Queenan and Captain Holland. Though the Hawks tried to increase their attacking play, they were forced to endure pressure in their defensive zone, leading Riddoch to trip Edgar and award Whitley a power play. Striving to capitalise, Murray forced a save from Walker and forward Adam Finlinson was unlucky not to slip the puck beneath the netminder seconds later. It was also at this point in the period that Lawson switched places with fellow netminder Boyle to allow the backup shot stopper some ice time. Despite Blackburn’s efforts, Whitley collected a fifth goal in the final minute of the period as forward Ben Richards netted just twenty two seconds before the second interval to add to the Hawks’ ever-growing deficit.
Dominating play, the Warriors scored a sixth goal when Ord bagged his second of the game on 44:19, this goal standing though the net was removed from its moorings. Soon after, Gritāns chipped the puck over the net, missing his mark by a fine margin and it was not long after that Blackburn broke away, causing Boyle to make a diving save. A shot from Harley was then gathered by Walker to keep the score line at 6-0 before Ord fired wide. Doing all they could to beat Boyle, the Hawks snatched this opportunity to break away yet again, Valusiak going one-on-one with Boyle who made a blocker save. Retaliating, Harley struck the puck off the underside of the bar to accomplish his second goal of the contest on 52:08, forwards Kyle Ross and Edgar linking up to assist. As the game wound to a close, Gritāns was sinbinned for a holding offence on 57:56 which led to forward Aaron Davies trying his luck on the power play to no avail. As Blackburn could not capitalise, the score line remained 7-0 and, just four seconds after Whitley’s return to full strength, the final buzzer sounded to conclude the Warriors’ emphatic victory.
Shots on goal
Harry Harley (2+1), Jamie Ord (2+0), Phil Edgar (1+2), Dean Holland (1+2), Ben Richards (1+1), Rolands Gritāns (0+2), Liam Smedley (0+1), Kyle Hindmarsh-Ross (0+1), Callum Queenan (0+1), Ross Murray (0+1)
Man of the Match
Hawks: Sean Jones
Warriors: Harry Harley