â€œMassive Team Performanceâ€ â€“ Ward
ULTIMATE WINDOWS sponsored Billingham Stars came from behind at iceSheffield on Sunday evening to record a much-needed road win over Sutton Sting to move them to within touching distance of the play off places in National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1.
Billingham were forced into a late rethink of lines and tactics as they travelled without Andy Finn and Scott Ward. A revamp of the top two lines saw James Moss move up to partner Michael Bowman and Dennis BostrÃ¶m, whilst Chris Sykes joined Michael Elder and Callum Davies. The returning Jack Davies took Wardâ€™s slot on the third whilst Ben Davison dropped back to cover Finnâ€™s absence. A bogey team on the road for the Stars last season, Sutton started brightly and tested netminder James Flavell with less than two minutes played. The visitors were handed an opportunity to move ahead less than a minute later when Sting goaltender Dmitri Zimozdra passed straight to the lurking BostrÃ¶m, his pass found Moss but Zimozdra redeemed his error by saving the shot at point-blank range. Flavell was called into action again in the fourth minute as he got down well to make a glove save. A soft call from referee Paul Brooks saw Billingham defenseman Andy Munroe despatched to the sinbin for interference in the sixth minute and the hosts turned up the heat, hitting the post a minute into the penalty. The Stars looked to have seen off the danger but only seconds after returning to full strength Suttonâ€™s James Spurr lifted the puck over a prone Flavell for the opening score following a goalmouth scramble. The goal seemed to stir the Stars into action and the play became concentrated in the Sting defensive zone. Billingham hauled themselves level in the 12th minute when Moss broke away only to see his shot roll tamely into the glove of Zimozdra. From the resulting face off, Mossâ€™ inch-perfect pass found BostrÃ¶m out front and he made no mistake. The better of the chances continued to fall the Stars way but with no further additions to the score the teams went into the dressing rooms all-square at 1-1.
A scoreless second stanza featured plenty of end-to-end hockey but no end result for either side as both netminders fought to keep their teams in it. Zimozdra saw more of the action as Matthew Campbell, BostrÃ¶m, Sykes and Bowman all tested the Russian keeper. Late in the period, BostrÃ¶m saw a chance go just over the bar, and seconds later Elder waltzed through the Sutton defence but appeared to be pushed before he could take the shot. The referee kept his arm down however and at the interval the score remained 1-1.
The Teessiders continued to dominate possession in the final session but had nothing to show for their efforts until they finally got the breakthrough they had been working so hard for in the 48th minute, a lucky bounce favouring Moss as he collected a deflected puck and fired into the top corner of Zimozdraâ€™s net. With their noses now in front and with the Sting a man short, the visitors piled on the pressure on the power play, Munroe seeing a one-time effort well saved at the far post whilst Sykes hit the post. In a reversal of fortune, Sutton had only just returned to full strength when Munroeâ€™s shot across the net was enough to beat Zimozdra with exactly 51 minutes played following excellent set-up play from Cal Davies and Elder. Two goals to the good, Billingham took control of the game and did not allow their hosts to find a way back, 1-3 a welcome result as the Stars look to build some momentum in what is turning out to be a very tough League competition.
Man-of-the-Match for Billingham was James Moss.
James Spurr 1+0; Richard Oliver 0+1; Vjaleslavs Movko 0+1
SOG Dmitri Zimozdra 27 (10 / 10 / 7)
James Moss 1+1; Dennis BostrÃ¶m 1+1; Andy Munroe 1+0; Michael Elder 0+1; Callum Davies 0+1
SOG James Flavell 29 (13 / 9 / 7)
The Starsâ€™ Director of Coaching Terry Ward thought his side had controlled much of the game:
â€œIt was a hard fought game. They just seemed to try and get that puck up the middle and once we sussed that out after the first period I think we were in total control. It was a massive team effort tonight – to get another couple of points on the board means a lot to us.
They were trying the big bomb all night – they tried it early doors and it worked for them. Once they got their goal we realised what they were doing and we stopped that straight away – it was a good performance by the boys to stop it, and then not only did we stop it we seemed to turn it over on them as well. For the second period Bomber asked them to keep control of the puck and I thought we did that tremendously.
We were looking for those goals in the third because we thought we should have had a couple in the second. We took them really well – James Moss took his goal beautifully. The possession and the control that we had in the third period made it very difficult for them to get anything back.
We had a little shake up tonight and put James on the first and Chris on the second – it worked for both of them. The two young lads Robson and Campbell played well at the back – we’ve got the confidence to play them, and playing with Richie and Andy Munroe they’re going to learn more with their experience. I thought those two lads did themselves proud tonight.
I would think that after tonight Sutton will have to change it round a bit for next week’s game. We really need to dig in again next week and get a good home performance to follow these two road performances that we’ve had over the last few weeks.
A special thanks to our fans who travelled down today, they made a lot of noise! Thank you very much!â€
Suttonâ€™s Ian Johnson was â€˜guttedâ€™ to have lost the game as he rued the mistakes that had cost his side dear:
â€œI was really pleased with the first and second periods, even the crowd – it was the first time we’d had a crowd which was nice! Mistakes cost us in the third period – we’ve talked about it in the changing room. The lads were up for it, I think they worked for it. For the neutral it was good hockey, end-to-end stuff, netminders both busy and an even shot count. But we made two mistakes, two defensive errors and at this level this year you’re going to get punished. I’m gutted, but when you make mistakes like that someone has got to be held accountable and unfortunately we took the defeat.
Spurr worked hard for the first goal, it was a good goal – he deserves it, he works hard every week – for me he was our Man-of-the-Match. But the way we are at the moment we can’t seem to buy any luck and today we had spells where we didn’t capitalise on our possession – we had the puck but we didn’t shoot. You can’t score without shooting.
Next week I think we need to work as hard as we did today up at the Forum. It’s a tight rink, a bit tighter than here, so it’s more of a physical game. Whatever happens we have to improve – if we don’t then I think we’ll be coming away frustrated again. The lads will be working hard and we’ve got a few changes to make. I was pleased today with the young lads so maybe they’ll factor a little bit more up in Billingham and get more ice, it might be the catalyst to an improvement.â€
Sutton Sting visit the Forum for the reverse fixture next Sunday 8th November, face off 6.30pm.
Sheffield Senators 1 Whitley Warriors 6
Telford Tigers NIHL 6 Sheffield Spartans 1
Sutton Sting 1 Billingham Stars 3
Blackburn Hawks 12 Sheffield Senators 3
Solihull Barons 6 Telford Tigers NIHL 4
Solway Sharks 3 Blackburn Hawks 8
There was no photography from tonight’s game: image shown is reproduced by kind permission of Colin Lawson – IceHockeyMedia.