Stars hit Minotaurs for six !
Ultimate Windows sponsored Billingham Stars celebrated Christmas on a high with a 6 â€“ 1 win over Manchester Minotaurs. With James Flavell still feeling the bruises and strains of his GB student games duties, Mark Watson again started in goal for the Stars and long term injury Anthony Price made it back to the Stars bench.
The Manchester side travelled short of both imports and a number of seniors, but the spirited side and some great goal tending by GB ladies Nicole Jackson who faced 55 shots to deny the Stars time after time. A quality third minute glove save from Mark Watson stopped the visitors taking an early lead, however a minute later some good moves from Stars second line saw Stars Mike Elder came close.
A sixth minute power play for the Stars started well with some good movement and overlaps but the open shot never presented and the Minotaurs defended well. The first closed without score in a period that saw the Stars dominate but fail to turn opportunities into rewards.
Mark Watson denied the Minotaurs with some excellent early second session saves, the deadlock was broken when Stars Jack Emerson collected a Jack Davies rebound to fire home the opener.
On the half way mark the Stars found themselves short-handed as goalie Mark Watson was called for delaying the game when he was forced to clear above plexi height. A Stephen Wallace breakaway on the penalty kill was unlucky not to be rewarded, but Nicole Jackson closed the gap at the near post to deny the Stars poacher.
Manchester opened their account in the 31st minute, a speculative shot that better matched the physics of a bouncing bomb than a hockey puck bobbled between Watson and the post to equalise.
Stars moved ahead five minutes later as skipper Paul Windridge stretched the net assisted by Wallace and Bowman. Scott Ward added his name to the score sheet when he applied a deflection to a Jack Emerson shot to put the Stars in control of a 3-1 lead at the end of the second.
Stars James Moss was unlucky when he double pinged the pipes after a nice pass from Michael Bowman. Stars blue liner Garry Dowd took a two minute sit for a cross checking call that clearly wasnâ€™t. A text book redirection from Moss on a Garry Dowd blast from the point stretched the Stars lead with eight minutes to go. Stephen Wallace delivered a great pass back following a nice move down the wing to find Paul Windridge cruising into the slot to fire home the Stars fifth. Billingham iced the cake came when Stars Callum West was picked out by Scott Ward to fire past the sprawled Manchester goalie to close the game Billingham Stars 6, Manchester Minotaurs 1.
Stars Head Coach Terry Ward was pleased with his sides result;
â€œWeâ€™re happy with the result, itâ€™s another victory so that keeps the pressure on Solway and puts distance between us and the guys behindâ€.
â€œWe were slow out of the blocks tonight, we didnâ€™t play our usual team game â€“ we had a lot of individuals rather than playing as a team. The goals came from the younger players because they just stuck to the game plan â€“ they were passing it around and they scored the simple goalsâ€.
â€œJack Emerson stood out, he had a good game as did Scott Ward. Paul Windridge took his goals well. Defensively Richie Thornton was strong tonight and Mark in goal â€“ apart from one unfortunate fluke goal â€“ was strong too. Anthony Price has got back from a long injury heâ€™s just got to build his strength back up and try and get some ice timeâ€.
â€œWith Solway away and Blackburn at home first two games back in the New Year our openers couldnâ€™t be much tougher. The lads will have a few days off to rest a few bumps and bruises and then weâ€™re ready to go againâ€.
Stars return to home ice action against the Blackburn Hawks on Sunday 5th January 2014.