Stars 2 -Sting 1-All to Play for !!
The Ultimate Windows Billingham Stars got their 2013 play off campaign of to a dream start with a 2-1 road trip win over Sutton Sting.
It was the Stars first competitive outing for 5 weeks due to the last 2 league games being cancelled and then a wait for other sides to finish their fixtures.The Stars travelled to Sutton with a full strength bench that saw youngster Jack Davies make his senior debut.
In a guarded first session Sutton out-shot the Stars, but both goalies kept clean sheets for a scoreless first.
Sutton took the lead a minute into the second session through Jamie Spurr, Billingham`s response came three minutes later when Wallace and Elder skated into the Sting zone and an inch perfect pass from Wallace saw the Elder fire into the top right corner to tie the game, the second closed even at one goal each.
Three minutes into the third the Stars were on the power play after Stings Shaun Ashton was called for holding. With Stephen Wallace taking a high place in the Stars power-play Wallace skated through the slot and across the Sting goal dragging the puck wide before releasing a snap shot into the top corner to take the Stars ahead on the power-play.
A goalless third was not without opportunities from both sides, Billingham goalie Mark Watson put in a solid confident display and his defence worked well taking possession quickly as Watson kept the game moving.
The Sting had a further two power play options the first following a Jamie Pattison tripping call, then a charging call against James Udell, but the Sting could not find a way through the Stars defence. A combination of timely clearances, solid possession and quality passing forced the Sting backwards.
The game closed Sutton Sting 1, Billingham Stars 2 and Simon leach was impressed with his sideâ€™s performance;
â€œI anticipated we would start slow, because of the amount of time since we have had a competitive game, but for the majority of the game the lads looked comfortableâ€.
â€œWe have been working on some systems this week ready for playing on the big ice, and I think we controlled large parts of the game and our penalty killing was absolutely fantastic, tonight on our power play we created a lot of chances, shifted things around a bit and put Wally at the top and he managed to get the winning goalâ€.
â€œI just asked the lads to come to Sheffield, put everything else thatâ€™s been going on through the week behind them and just focus on the job in hand, which was to get a good result to take back for the second leg and we have done that, the whole team played their hearts out from start to finish, we played well in defence and Mark was excellent in goal, I couldnâ€™t ask for anymore from themâ€.
â€œWe need to get through the next leg first, we canâ€™t look to the final yet, we have a job to do next Sunday when Sutton visit Billingham. I said to the guys in the dressing room, well done on the game tonight, itâ€™s a great win on the road, but we are only half way through the tie.â€
â€œWe need to make sure that the good things from tonight carry over into next week and we donâ€™t get too far ahead of ourselves, we will focus in training on things we picked up tonight and we will be ready fro next Sunday that must be our priorityâ€.
â€œWe donâ€™t think we are through by any stretch of the imagination and we must play next weeks game with the same desire and intensity, and maintain the discipline that we showed tonight, if we do all those things then we have every chance of going through to the final against Blackburnâ€.
Last weekend also saw Solway Sharks and Blackburn Hawks playing the other semi final. On the Saturday night the Hawks did enough at Solway with a 5 â€“ 3 loss to stay in touch with the league champions.
On Sunday night a feisty affair at Blackburn saw the Lancashire side pull of the shock result of the season when they beat the Sharks 6 â€“ 1 to go through to the final 9 â€“ 6 on aggregate.
Stars are in action next Sunday (18:30) in the second leg of their semi final,Â when Sutton Sting visit Billingham Forums ice Arena.