BLACKBURN, UK – Billingham Stars won the battle of the big two in NIHL1 North on Saturday, with a dominant display at Solway Sharks. Michael Bowman (2) and Mike Elder sent Stars racing into an early 3-0 lead, leavingSharks’ Coach Martin Grubb calling a time out after just seven minutes. Stars continued to control the game and Richie Thornton added further goals after 30 and 46 minutes to secure an impressive 5-0 win.
Stars’ Coach Simon Leach full of praise for his team, “Everyone played well with no-one taking a night off,” said Leach. “We took our chances very well and worked hard off the puck. Our plan was to get Solway on the back foot and make them chase the game. It’s fair to say we achieved that.” Stars followed up on Sunday with a comfortable 9-1 success at home to Coventry Blaze. Bowman (2), Stephen Wallace (2) and James Moss (2) led the scoring.
Solway bounced back in emphatic style the following evening with a 7-0 win at Blackburn Hawks. Mark Gallagher and Steven Moore put Sharks ahead in the first, before Calum Henderson, Adam Reynolds and Nathan Salem put the game beyond Hawks reach in the second. Moore added his second of the night before Struan Tonnar’s last minute effort completed the rout.
Newly promoted Sutton Sting secured a pair of excellent road wins. Craig Thurston (4), Jamie Spurr, Richie Oliver and Ryan Johnson got the goals in their 7-4 league win at Sheffield Spartans. Thurston was on the scoresheet again as Sting came from behind to win 3-1 at Whitley Warriors in the Trans-Pennine East/West Trophy. Sting Coach Ian Johnson was delighted with the results, “I’m really pleased with my team,” said Johnson. “After these two wins, there’s loads of positives to take from the weekend. I can’t wait until we get a full team on the ice and we’ll be a force to be reckoned with when we do.”
Spartans faced struggling Trafford Metros on Sunday and ran out easy 8-1 winners. Nick Manning and Scott Morris both scored twice for Sheffield, though the game was marred by a mass brawl late in the second period. Jon Woolhouse, Dougie Jordan, Andy Turner and Joe Millard completed Spartans’ scoring.
Nottingham Lions maintained their 100% start to the NIHL2 North season with an 8-6 win at home to Deeside Dragons. Joe Wightman (2), Michael Rose and Gareth O’Flaherty set Lions on their way in the first, with Wightman extending the lead early in the second. Ric Hughes and James Parsons brought Deeside back into it, but Rose and Ben Wood restored the five goal cushion soon after. Shaun Kippin made it 7-3 just before the second break and a comeback looked on the cards when Parsons scored again early in the third. Elliott Perrin made it 8-4 after 46 minutes, but Dragons closed the gap to two through Aaron Davies and Kippin. Lions saw out the remaining couple of minutes to seal the victory.
Fylde Flyers bagged their first win of the season on Saturday with a 9-6 win at home to Blackburn Eagles. Tom Murphy scored a couple, while ex-Trafford defender Dan Etherington was also amongst the goals. Coach Mick Caunce was happy with Flyers’ performance, “I felt they brought us down to their level at times, but we got the result we deserved,” said Caunce. “I can’t wait to play on their own ice, because the bigger surface will suit us.” Flyers failed to follow up on Sunday, falling 5-2 at Solihull Barons.
Next weekend sees Billingham travel to meet Sutton, while Whitley face-off against Solway.
Contact the author at: Michael.Black@prohockeynews.com