Warriors Outdone by Sharks’ Attack

Liam Stenton's power play goal makes it 3-2. Photo by Pyro-Media.

Whitley Warriors suffered a 5-4 NIHL Moralee Cup defeat in front of their home crowd on Sunday evening.

Though missing Canadian Phil Edgar, forward Niall Ryder, youngster Connor Lewis and left winger Rob Farmer, the Warriors still had nineteen skaters at their disposal, including new signing Matěj Valíček, whilst netminder Dean Bowater started in net ahead of fellow shot stopper Mark Turnbull. By comparison, Solway made the trip with fifteen skaters, their line-up including Captain Struan Tonnar, former Warriors Ross Murray and Christian Johnson and ex-Murrayfield Racer Callum Boyd.

Whitley Warriors face off against Solway Sharks. Photo by Pyro-Media.

Playing Czech import Valíček on their first line, Whitley started the game by battling for the puck in their offensive zone and forced a hooking penalty from forward Rick Bentham on 1:17 as the Shark strove to move play away from Solway’s net. Though unable to make this power play count, the Warriors did not give up on their aim to get ahead in the contest and they achieved the opening goal of the game on 8:40 as Latvian Rolands Gritāns slotted the puck beneath Hepburn having been picked out by Shaun Kippin after some play along the boards from forward Callum Watson. After countering to prompt two successive saves from Bowater, Solway handed Whitley their second power play of the evening when defenceman Michael Thomson wrestled Watson to the ice in front of Hepburn’s net on 10:44. Again struggling to make an impact with the additional skater, Whitley were left to rue their missed chance to extend their lead when the Sharks drew level less than two minutes after returning to full strength, forward Andrew Craik striking the puck home on 14:03 after it was looped over Whitley’s defence by Scott Crane to make it 1-1. Encouraged by this, the Sharks went ahead with less than three minutes remaining in the first period as Alternate Captain Scott Henderson netted glove side assisted by Iain Bowie to give Solway a 2-1 lead before the teams headed in at the first interval.

Scott Henderson seeks Solway’s second goal. Photo by Pyro-Media.

Whitley returned for the second period with the aim to equalise and did so on 24:24 through forward Callum Queenan who tipped in defenceman Steven Chalmers’ long range shot to make it 2-2, Captain Dean Holland also assisting. Though reclaiming their foothold in the contest, the Warriors’ discipline waned. A boarding penalty for Kippin on 26:03 reduced Whitley to four skaters and matters were made worse eighty three seconds later when Alternate Captain Jordan Barnes was called to the sin bin for a holding offence against Boyd to give Solway a 5-on-3 power play. Whilst battling hard for the puck along the boards, tempers came close to flaring between utility player Kyle Ross and Boyd but the Warriors dug in to clear the puck from their defensive zone. After demonstrating excellent work ethic to kill both penalties, the Warriors went shorthanded again when Dylan Hehir was sidelined for tripping on 30:24. Twenty three seconds before this penalty terminated, Chalmers was penalised for interference on 32:01 but Whitley remained strong to prevent Solway from surpassing Bowater. A slashing penalty for Barnes followed on 38:43 and, whilst Whitley were shorthanded, Holland tried to retrieve the puck from his defensive zone and subsequently received a check to the head from Henderson who was dealt five minutes plus game in exchange on 39:06 whilst Chalmers’ crosscheck in retaliation to the Shark’s actions was simultaneously punished. This fired up the visitors who made the most of their power play as defenceman Liam Stenton unleashed a shot on the breakaway on 39:15 after an assist from Bowie to present the Sharks with a narrow 3-2 lead at the end of the second period.

Tempers flare in the third period between Watson and Boyd. Photo by Pyro-Media.

With just one goal separating the two sides going into the third period, Whitley were still very much in the game and proceeded on the power play after returning to full strength on 41:06. However, after testing Hepburn in the opening minutes, the Warriors found themselves with a two-goal deficit to contend with as the puck slid behind Bowater’s net, allowing Boyd to collect unchallenged before playing in Bowie who scored shorthanded on 42:40. After killing Kippin’s hooking penalty which was handed to the forward on 44:46, Whitley went on the attack and their efforts paid off as Chalmers rocketed a superb shot beyond Hepburn to make it 4-3. A tripping penalty for forward Gordon Horne followed twenty four seconds later but Solway remained composed to achieve their second shorthanded goal of the evening, Stenton flicking the puck blocker side to restore his team’s two-goal cushion on 48:55. A high sticks penalty for Bowie just before the halfway point in the period put Whitley on a brief 5-on-3 power play but the score line remained unchanged and it was not long after that Ross clashed with Boyd to pick up a penalty of 2+2 for interference and roughing. Whilst Ross was serving his time in the sin bin, Kippin broke away and was brought down by Stenton to see Whitley awarded a penalty shot which was scored by Gritāns on 55:55, the Latvian lifting the puck into the roof of Hepburn’s net. Suffering an injury in the process, Hepburn was helped off the ice and fellow shot stopper Jordan McLaughlin was called upon to take his place. Fifty six seconds later, Stenton was again at fault, this time receiving a penalty for tripping, but Warriors’ defenceman Craig Johnson was quick to join him in the penalty box for roughing on 57:40. With tempers finally boiling over, Watson confronted Boyd with less than two minutes remaining in the game, receiving a five-minute slashing penalty in addition to five minutes plus game for fighting whilst Boyd was handed a five-minute fighting penalty for his part in the incident. In spite of this fiery conclusion, Whitley tried for a fifth goal in the dying seconds but it was not to be, the side resigned to their 5-4 defeat as the game was brought to a close.


Shots on goal
Warriors: 37
Sharks:    41

Rolands Gritans (2+0), Steven Chalmers (1+1), Callum Queenan (1+0), Callum Watson (0+2), Shaun Kippin (0+1), Dean Holland (0+1), Adam Finlinson (0+1)

Liam Stenton (2+0), Iain Bowie (1+2), Andrew Craik (1+0), Scott Henderson (1+0), Callum Boyd (0+2), Scott Crane (0+1), Richard Bentham (0+1)

Penalty minutes
Warriors:  50
Sharks:     40

Man of the Match
Warriors: Shaun Kippin
Sharks:     Ross Murray