Hawks eclipse Stars !
Ultimate windows sponsored Billingham Stars lost ground to League leaders Solway Sharks at the weekend a combination of a Stars 4-2 loss at Blackburn and a 5 -1 win for the Sharks widened the gap at the top of the NIHL 1 Moralee league.
Billingham travelled to Blackburn short on defence with blue liner Garry Dowd injured and Andy Finn unavailable, up front the Stars were without influential Stephen Wallace.
With a number of players also playing on despite a rising injury toll Terry Ward again turned to his younger players to fill the void.
Hawks stretched the net early with a controversial Rick RaveyÂ goal that was scored whilst Stars Martyn Davies lay injured on the ice. Both sides had further chances with Blackburn creating more chances but failing to make them count and the first closed Blackburn 1 Billingham 0.
The Stars started to push the Hawks in the second and the Lancastrian penalty count began to rise 2 calls minutes apart on Olli Lomax for roughing an interference were played off but as Blackburn came back to full strength Rich Huges added their second.
Just ove a minute later Stars picked themselves up and the fightback began, Ben Davison found Jack Davies close in to force the puck home, with Hawks keeper also inside the net a well-positioned referee Dave Goodwin signalled a goal.
Billingham having the better chances of the second, a clumsy Hawks line change put seven men on the ice and referee Goodwin awarded a 2 min bench minor.
Stars set too on the power play and some good formation and passing resulted in a blast from the point awarded to Richie Thornton that received a tip deflection from Scott Ward to tie the game going into the second break.
With everything to play for the in the third the Hawks piled on the pressure, with Martyn Davies unable to ice since his first minute injury the Stars blue liners were put to test early as Hawks player coach Jarred Owen latched intercepted a clearance and fired home a well taken marker to move the Hawks ahead.
With just under six minutes to play the Hawks David Miekle sealed the win and two points for the Hawks as he forced the puck home from close range.
Hawks goalie Daniel Brittle took the man of the match for the home side, the award for the Stars went to Scott Ward for a gritty performance.
Stars Coach Terry Ward felt aggrieved by the Hawks first goal, but praised his side for their work rate;
â€œWe battled hard to get it back to 2-2. The first Blackburn goal we had a man down injured for a minute, we were screaming at the referee he says he didn’t see that, they broke down and scored which was disappointing. Really that whistle should’ve been blown with a guy injured, you’d expect that whistle blown straight away. We were disappointed with that but that’s the way it goes.
â€œWe mounted a comeback, we battled our way back to 2-2, we were looking ok then the last period we came out and puck just went for them and they got a couple of scrappy goals.”
“We travelled without Finny and Dowdy, then we lost Marty in the first, Andy Thornton has played D before so we had to move him back there to give the other guys a rest.â€
â€œMatty Campbell is a young boy coming through with potential. He hasn’t played for us for a while, he’s been sat on the bench waiting for his turn. I think he did really well tonight considering he hasn’t had a lot of ice time.â€
â€œDaniel Brittle made some great saves, we had a lot of pressure on him, he took some really good quality shots and I thought he stopped them really well – he had a really good game, congratulations to him.â€
â€œUnfortunately we were a few guys short tonight but you go what you go with and I’m proud the boys – they worked their socks off tonight.â€
Hawks player Coach Jarred Owen was glad that his side had returned to winning ways;
â€œâ€œWe’ve been on a bit of a bad run â€“Â Â to be honest we haven’t played badly, we’ve done pretty much what we’ve done tonight – start well, create a lot of chances, but we havenâ€™t been putting them away, we end up going one or two behind or one up but it’s never a comfortable position to be in. Unfortunately we’ve taken a lot of penalties this season that we saidÂ on ThursdayÂ we need to cut out. It was better tonight, we still took a few silly ones, but on the whole I’m pleased with the character – to come back after the pressure that Billingham put us under in the second, I thought the third period we really came out fired up and stuck to our game plan and we came away with 2 points which is what we needed.â€
â€œHopefully Jon Adams will be with us next week, really looking forward to having him on the ice and the boost it’ll bring.â€
â€œI spoke to one of Jon’s old coaches who said he’s a hard hitter, he’s got a real good shot and he’ll work hard for the team, put his body on the line. He’s got more experience than his stats say, he’s played in Austria, Czech Republic and then went to Sweden for a bit. So he’s got a good pedigree, spends his summer training with OHL and NHL guys, so we’re expecting good things from him. This is a stepping stone for him, it’s a good opportunity for him to come in and make a name for himself and maybe an EPL team might look at him for next year.â€
â€œIvo has bruising on his pancreas that may have come from contact in a game. He’s been advised not to play contact for another 3/4 weeks. He’s allowed to train but no contact, his health and safety comes first – we want him to get better and we’ll bring him back when he’s fully fit.â€
Stars are in home ice action next Sunday night when they take on Manchester Minotaurs in the KD Flavell Welding Northern Cup.