Stars bag 4 !!
Top of the table Ultimate Windows sponsored Billingham Stars took all four points in a two game weekend that once more turned the form book on its head.
In their first game the Stars battled back from behind after bottom of the table Telford opened through Karol Jets following a line change that left Mark Watson in the Billingham goal to face a one on one breakaway from Slovakian Jets. Stars pulled it level after James Moss picked out Garry Dowd who fired home to tie the game. Under a minute later Billinghamâ€™s Jack Davies lifted the water bottle off the top of the Telford goal as he fired top shelf to put the Stars ahead. The Stars found it hard to break down a Telford system, with players blocking the slot the Stars were forced to shoot from distance and the Telford players mopped up the rebounds. Just past the halfway point the Titans pulled level as Karol Jets hit his second of the game, a short-handed goal.
Two minutes into the third the Titans moved ahead however their lead was short lived when a Garry Dowd blast pulled the game level at 45.01.
With only 6 minutes to play Stars Scott Ward squeezed the puck home to edge the Stars ahead.
With fifteen seconds to play the Titans pulled their goalie as they looked to tie the game, a block from Ashley Stanton prevented Michael Bowman from scoring and the clock counted down to a narrow win for the Stars.
In home ice action the next night the Stars faced a KD Flavell Welding Northern Cup tie against the current play off champions the Blackburn Hawks, anticipated as the more difficult game of the weekend the Stars played some good hockey and took full advantage of the power plays that came their way.
Stars were first of the mark through Michael Bowman and went into the first intermission up by that single marker; a single power play goal from Michael Elder doubled the Stars lead to close the second Billingham 2 Blackburn 0.
Michael Elder moved the Stars further ahead with his second power play strike of the night assisted by James Moss. Tempers flared when Stars Ben Davison retaliated following a punch from Hawks Myles Dacres, with the visitors picking up the bigger penalty the Stars again converted on the power play through Callum Davies. With Billinghamâ€™s keeper Mark Watson looking set for a shut out the Hawks laid that ambition to rest with only 10 seconds left on the clock Adam Brittle spoilt the Stars party as he hit a consolation effort for the Hawks.
Stars Head Coach Terry Ward was very happy with another four point weekend;
â€œWe got 52 shots on Telford against their 15, but to be honest we gifted them two opportunities and they made them count, we had to work hard to grind out a not very pretty road win, but points are pointsâ€.
â€œThat turned out to be the opposite of our second game, the game against Blackburn was a big team win, everyone did their bit tonight they pulled together well and it was a great team effort and performance, we knew we would have to work against Blackburnâ€.
â€œI was gutted for Mark Watson only 10 seconds away from a shut out but I know he will be pleased with his performance against Blackburnâ€.
Stars Coach Michael Bowman was delighted that his side are building momentum;
“I couldn’t ask for more from this weekend. We got the two points yesterday, we didn’t play well – we heavily outshot them, they had a game plan to clog the neutral zone, their goalie stopped a lot of shots and they just cleared the rebounds out. We were lucky to get the win in the end”.
“Tonight I thought we played really well, really solid. Unlucky that Mark lost his shutout at the end there, it was tough on him but he played really well over the weekend”.
“Telford had a lot more players this time out, they had a game plan and they stuck to it. They might surprise a few teams this year, if teams go there complacent they’ve got players there who can score goals”.
“It’s difficult to find a difference between the league and cup games – we just want to keep winning and hopefully we can keep it going”.
“We’ll be working hard over the next few weeks with Solway and Blackburn in mind, working on little things and hopefully get another 4 point weekend”.
Blackburn coach Jarred Owen admitted the better side won;
â€œI think we have suffered from a little bit of complacency, we made a good start to the season, but no games last weekend seems to have upset us, we came back to two difficult games this weekend and we have been brought back down to earth with a bumpâ€.
â€œBillingham outworked us, they outplayed us and they finished their chances well, all credit to Billinghamâ€.
This weekend was confirmed as Adam Robinsons last for the Stars. The players and fans favourite is to relocate following promotion in his day job. One of the original Billingham Stars Robbo moved to the newly refurbished Billingham Forum from Championship success at Whitley Bay.
Adams 13 goals and 17 assists were pivotal in the Stars league and play off winning first season, and also saw Adam become the first player to lift the Championship trophy with three different teams. Adam does not want to stop playing, and talks of a move to Sutton Sting may not be too far of the mark.
â€œMy new job will put me 10 minutes away from home, I have had a great time in the North East, it was fun at Whitley but I really loved my time at Billingham, the players, management and fans have been great, I will genuinely miss playing at Billinghamâ€.
â€œNothing is finalised about a move, a few people have been in touch, I really want to keep playing so I will wait and see what happensâ€.
Stars coach Michael Bowman knows Adam will be a hard act to follow
“He’s been a big part of the team and he’s absolutely solid every shift he goes on the ice, you always get 100% and his skates will be hard to fill. It’s been a pleasure to play with him”.