Whitley Warriors recorded a 4-3 penalty shootout win against Solihull Barons in NIHL North 1 league action at Hobs Moat Road on Sunday evening.
Making the trip with seventeen skaters whilst opting for netminder Dean Bowater between the pipes, Whitley Warriors faced the Barons who had just one player less in their line-up which included Swedish import Niklas Ottosson, last season’s top points scorer Thomas Soar and Player-Coach Callum Bowley.
Both teams battled hard for possession in the early stages but it was the Warriors who were awarded the first power play of the game when forward Philip Mulcahy was sidelined for holding on 7:43. Though operating with an additional skater as a result, Whitley could not beat shot stopper Sam Hewitt and it was only seven minutes later that the Hillheads outfit were able to open the scoring, forward Adam Finlinson supplying the puck to left winger Rob Farmer who made it 1-0 on 14:46. It was not long after this goal that Whitley’s discipline began to slip and a hooking penalty for Alternate Captain Jordan Barnes on 17:16 was swiftly followed by a crosscheck from defenceman Dylan Hehir to see the Warriors reduced to three skaters. Though defending well to prevent the Barons from levelling the scoring, Whitley ran into further trouble alongside their hosts in the final minute of the period as defenceman Steven Chalmers and Solihull’s Player-Coach Bowley were both sidelined for crosschecking on 19:41 to see Whitley reduced to three skaters whilst the Barons proceeded with four men.
These penalties continued into the second period but the Warriors worked hard to maintain their 1-0 lead and just fifty eight seconds after Chalmers and Bowley returned to the ice, Solihull’s utility player Bailey Challans was punished for a slashing offence to provide Whitley with a power play. This advantage did not last long however as forward Callum Watson was made to take a seat in the sin bin on 23:01 and just over a minute into this penalty, Canadian Phil Edgar joined his teammate after receiving 2+2 for high sticks. Fortunately for Whitley, the Barons matched the Warriors’ lack of discipline and Bowley was made to sit out for tripping on 26:02. After weathering this storm, Solihull went on the power play twenty three seconds after returning to full strength when Finlinson was called to the penalty box for interference. Though the Warriors were not made to pay the price whilst shorthanded, Solihull built sufficient momentum to punish Whitley thirty nine seconds after Finlinson’s return, left winger Ashley Calvert equalising following an assist from Alternate Captain Soar on 31:04. Realising their need to take back some control of the game, the Warriors regained their discipline and reaped the rewards when defenceman Harry Harley fired home to recover his team’s lead on 38:35 with assists from Watson and Edgar. Eighteen seconds later, goal scorer Harley played the puck to stand-in Captain Shaun Kippin who presented his side with a 3-1 lead going into the final period of the game.
The Warriors were unable to resume this attacking play after going shorthanded fifty eight seconds into the third period following a slashing penalty for Harley. The Barons capitalised on their subsequent power play through forward Daniel Mulcahy who pulled the score line back to 3-2, his goal assisted by Bowley and Ottosson on 41:07. Whilst aware of the threat that Solihull posed to them on the power play, the Warriors went shorthanded again just over a minute after conceding when utility player Adam Wood was sidelined for slashing on 42:25. As this penalty was being served, Solihull’s defenceman Henry Adams received a match penalty for high sticks against versatile Warrior Kyle Ross in the fourth minute of the period but the Barons successfully killed their penalty to prevent Whitley from extending their lead. With no change to the score line as the period progressed despite numerous chances from Bowley’s side who outshot the Warriors by 44 shots to 29 overall, Solihull resolved to call a timeout on 56:18 and this proved effective, Challans equalising with an unassisted goal on 58:22 to take the game into overtime.
After a five-minute period of three-on-three overtime, the Warriors were still level with the Barons and penalty shots ensued to settle the game. Forward Philip Mulcahy stepped up first to send the Barons into the lead and this was followed by a miss from Finlinson to make it 1-0 in Solihull’s favour. Forward Soar then saw his shot saved by Bowater and Farmer levelled the tally to make it 1-1 moments later. Misses for Bowley and Harley were followed by a second goal for Philip Mulcahy but Edgar matched his effort to make it 2-2. Bowley’s second shot was saved soon after but netminder Hewitt maintained his team’s foothold in the game by keeping Farmer’s shot out of his net. A third for Philip Mulcahy edged his side into the lead and he tried his luck again after a successful response from Edgar only to see his effort saved by Bowater. This paved the way for Whitley to claim maximum points and they did so as Farmer made amends for his earlier miss to hand his side a 4-3 win on penalty shots.
Shots on goal
Daniel Mulcahy (1+0), Ashley Calvert (1+0), Bailey Challans (1+0), Callum Bowley (0+1), Thomas Soar (0+1), Niklas Ottosson (0+1)
Robert Farmer (2+0), Shaun Kippin (1+0), Harry Harley (1+1), Adam Finlinson (0+1), Callum Watson (0+1), Phil Edgar (0+1)
Man of the Match
Barons: Bailey Challans
Warriors: Dean Bowater