ENL Feature – Whitley roster looks to be almost complete

DURHA M, UK – Whitley have announced that Harry Harley, Philip Pritchard and Liam McAllister will all be part of their squad for the 2012/13 English National League season. It now appears that player/coach Garry Dowd has just about completed his summer signings ahead of his sides opening game of the season this coming weekend. This Sunday sees Warriors taking on their local rivals the Billingham Stars (face off 5pm at Hillheads, Whitley Bay) before League action starts the following weekend.
The capture of McAllister means Warriors will have 3 netminders to select from this coming campaign. Former Newcastle Viper goaltender Richie Lawson looks sure to start the season as the clubs first choice goalie after impressing since linking up with Whitley mid-way through last term. It looks as if McAllister will act as back up with youngster Joseph Harley 3rd choice though all 3 goalies are bound to see some ice time throughout the year.
In defence Whitley have lost a lot of experience performers since the end of last season. Club captain Rob Wilson, assistant player/coach Kevin Bucas and alternate captain David Barrett have all retired while Ali Brummit may not be available due to work commitments. Young blue liner Andrew Cook will also not be at Hillheads this year as he has moved to the Sheffield Spartans as he is now at University in South Yorkshire.
Ex Billingham Star Simon Hehir has been brought in to play on defence alongside the likes of Josh Maddock, Nathan Ryder, Phil Pritchard and player/coach Garry Dowd. Dowd started the last campaign solely as bench coach however with Warriors losing so many key defenceman over the summer he has taken the decision to take to the ice for whole term in order to help the sides overall balance.
In attack Whitley have retained there 2 top scorers from last season DJ Good and Callum Watson and both players will no doubt be amongst the goals again this campaign. Good started last season in superb form and it is hoped that he can open this term in the same manner. Watson top scored for Warriors last campaign and the young winger will no doubt be keen to establish himself as one of the ENL’s top marksmen again this time round.
Warriors have also been able to add promising youngster Alex Lawson to their ranks as the teenager made the decision to join up with his brother Richie at Whitley after being without a club for the 2nd half of last year after leaving the Billingham Forum. Lawson who can play in both defensive and offensive positions looks to be a great addition to the Warriors squad and his versatility should be of great help to coach Garry Dowd over the course of the season.
It is not all positive news offensively though as Whitley have lost the services of the ever reliable Shaun Kippin. It is likely that this departure could see increased ice time for the some of the squad’s younger forwards. Jordan Barnes, Callum Pattinson and Martin Crammond are likely to all see more game time now that Kippin has moved to Deeside which could aid the overall development of these 3 players. However the departure of Kippin is still a major blow to the make up of the Warriors squad as Shaun was comfortable playing on both specialist teams as well as centring a top forward line.
Clearly Whitley have lost a number of key individuals over the close season however Warriors still have an extremely talented roster who could challenge for honours on all fronts if at their best. However injuries to any of the side’s top players could be extremely hard to recover from given the roster has lost such a great deal of depth since the end of the last campaign.
Contact the author – chris.mackenzie@prohockeynews.com

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