The Tomahawks went into their first game of the new year 2 points behind joint league leaders Bradford and Coventry but with games in hand on both clubs, so a win against Sheffield was vitally important as they continued their push for the National Finals. Sheffield are going through a transitional season, having lost some of their more experienced players to other clubs, but will no doubt be very well organised, as ever, and a tough team to beat. The Tomahawks were without Czech player Robert Miker for the game, and also their girl players who have a game at Kingston today.
The early stages of the 1st period were pretty even with very little action around either goal until Whitleys Jack Davies was called for tripping at 4.56 and Sheffield went on the power play. Home netminder Mark Turnbull was called into action soon after, making a fine diving save to deny Sheffield captain Jonathan Kirk a certain goal in front of an open net. After returning to full strength, the Tomahawks went in front at 8.16 when Sheffield turned the puck over in front of the Whitley goal, and a long pass out of defence from Harry Harley found Ben Richards wide on the right, and with the Sheffield defence struggling to get back he cut inside and fired a low shot under the advancing Warren Gilfoyle in the Sheffield net. Sheffield had a great chance to level the scores at 12.30 but Turnbull again came to his sides rescue with a save from Callum Leaper .The last action of the period saw Gilfoyle saving a Richards shot with the top of his stick when it was heading for the top corner of the net.
The 2nd period was only 48 seconds old when Sheffield levelled the scores, Thomas Smith tapping home the rebound after Turnbull had saved the first effort by Joel Ahern. Sheffield looked the more dangerous of the 2 teams at this stage, having a lot of possession without creating many goal scoring chances. Gradually the Tomahawks regained their composure and Harley had a shot saved by Gilfoyle, before Turnbull at the other end had a shot bounce out of his glove and over his head before plucking it out of the air as it looked like it was going to drop into the net. Sheffield came close to scoring a second goal when Alex Kingston had a breakaway opportunity, his shot was saved by Turnbull, and then a mad scramble for the loose puck ended with the home keeper lying flat on his back with the puck trapped under him.
The Tomahawks almost regained the lead early in the 3rd period when Richards saw his shot from the low slot cannon off the right hand post with the keeper well beaten. However they did go back in front at 33.15 when Sheffield turned the puck over in front of their own net which allowed Harley to walk in unchallenged, and when Gilfoyle saved his low shot with his pads Dale Sharp had the easiest of chances to tap home the rebound right on the doorstep. Whitley were comfortable for the rest of the period until right at the end when Matty Campbell mistimed his slapshot at Sheffields blue line, which allowed them a great breakaway opportunity, but Jordin Martin overskated the puck with the home defence hot on his heels and Sheffield saw their last chance disappear.
Spirit of the Game; #64 Ben Richards
Goals; Ben Richards 1+0, Dale Sharp 1+0, Harry Harley 0+2.
PIMs; Whitley4, Sheffield 6.
Shots Faced; Mark Turnbull ( Whitley ) 17. Warren Gilfoyle ( Sheffield ) 32.