Whitley Braves started the new league season with a road trip to Humberside to take on the Hull Stingrays, in what turned out to be a very entertaining game. Whitley were without Dale Sharp and Natasha Crozier who both have long term injuries, while Hull have added the much travelled Craig Thurston to their roster.
Whitley were on the penalty-kill after 1.53 when Callum Read was called for tripping, however they had 2 great chances to take the lead while short-handed through Daniel Spedding and captain Christian Johnson, but home netminder Liam Jackson saved both efforts. With Read returning to the ice, Hull found themselves short-handed at 4.54 with Thomas Kent called for interference. The Braves took full advantage of the power-play when Spedding received the puck behind the Hull net, and when he found Harry Harley in front of goal, he buried his shot passed Jackson to give the visitors the lead at 6.16. Hull came straight back at Whitley from the restart and it took a fine save from Mark Turnbull in the Whitley goal to deny Thurston his first goal for his new club. However, the home side did draw level at 12.54 when the Whitley defence turned over the puck in the corner and amid a mad scramble in front of Turnbull, Declan Pearson was on hand to bag his first goal of the game. With the score level, Kent found himself in trouble with the referee again at 15.16 and received a 2+10 for disputing a hooking call. The Braves almost took the lead again while on the power-play, but Harley’s rocket from the blue line cannoned off the post before Jackson had time to move. At 18.52 The Braves` Callum Clark received a 2+10 misconduct for disagreeing with the refs offside call on him, which left the visitors already over stretched defence at breaking point. The Stingrays almost took the lead right at the end of the 1st period but Turnbull denied Sam Towner with a great glove save right on the buzzer.
One of Whitley’s new signings, Luke Shanks had a great chance to notch his first goal for his new club at the start of the 2nd period, but Jackson pulled off a fine glove save to deny him, but he was left totally exposed by his defence at 27.36 when Jack Davies collected the puck in the corner and was allowed to skate out in front of goal and fire his shot high into the net to restore the Braves lead. The visitors then took 3 penalties in quick succession and Hull got back on level terms with Harley and Shanks both sitting in the penalty box, Pearson grabbing his second goal of the game. Turnbull then came to his sides rescue with an incredible save from Towner while sprawled on the ice, somehow getting his glove on the puck with Towner facing an open net. At 38.52 Hull were called for interference and exactly 20 seconds later the visitors lead was restored yet again when Davies found Johnson unmarked at the back post with a fine pass and he fired past Jackson to make it 3-2. Thirteen seconds later Spedding made it 4-2 with a quick shot in front of goal, and at this stage Hull looked out of the game completely.
With The Braves looking comfortable, it seemed the only way Hull were going to get back into the game was through their power-play, and that’s exactly how it worked out. Davies was called for hooking at 42.47 and less than a minute later Pearson had scored his hat-trick goal, tapping home the rebound after Turnbull had saved a slapshot from the blue line to make the score 4-3. The home side thought they had levelled the score minutes later when Thurston raced clear down the right, cut inside and shot at the advancing Turnbull. The puck got lost for a second, then Thurston raised his arms celebrating his “goal” with Turnbull flat on his back on the ice. However, after consulting with the goal judge, “no goal” was called, the puck was under Turnbull and hadn’t crossed the line. Davies had to leave the game minutes later with a hand injury after colliding with the boards and shortly after, the home side levelled the game when Kieron Strangeways fired passed Turnbull after another turnover in the Braves defence.
A disappointing result after losing a 2 goal lead but Hull aren’t a bad side so that 1 point may be very valuable come the end of the season.
Spirit of the Game; #24 Harry Harley
Goals; Christian Johnson 1+2; Harry Harley 1+1; Jack Davies 1+1; Daniel Spedding 1+1; Dean Kerr 0+1.
PIM`s; Hull 40, Whitley 24.
Shots Faced; Jackson ( Hull ) 58, Turnbull ( Whitley )24.