A mixed start for Billingham Stars

Billingham Stars' Jack Davies (55) gets stuck in against Telford Titans at Billingham Forum. Picture by Andy Baxter
Billingham Stars' Jack Davies (55) gets stuck in against Telford Titans at Billingham Forum. Picture by Andy Baxter

Billingham Stars kicked off their National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Conference campaign with mixed fortunes.

The Stars were defeated on the road at Solway on Saturday but then recorded a huge win at Billingham Forum the following evening.

The Stars more than matched the home side.

Indeed, it was Billingham who got away the first meaningful shot on goal, as Stephen Wallace stung the glove of new Sharks netminder Mark McGill with a rasping shot from the blue line.

With the clock ticking down on the first period, Callum Davies released a cross-ice pass to Michael Elder, who first-timed his shot perfectly past the left glove of McGill to put Billingham ahead going into the break.

Into the second period and it did not take long for the hosts to get back on level terms.

The Stars had only just returned to full strength following a minor penalty to Garry Dowd when Ross Murray grabbed the equaliser in the 21st minute.

Solway started to take control and got their noses in front in the 27th minute whilst short-handed, a line change mix-up forcing Flavell to leave his net to clear the puck only to see it fall to Sharks captain Mark Gallagher who fired into the unguarded Billingham net from a tight angle.

The period closed with Solway retaining their goal advantage and looking the better team.

The Stars came out for the final period looking more like the team that controlled the first period, taking the game to the champions.

They were rewarded in the 45th minute with a superb equaliser from James Moss, who skated around three Solway players before beating McGill with a backhand shot.

From there the game could have gone either way, but with just over five minutes left new Sharks marksman Iain Bowie broke Billingham hearts with the winner when he fired past a screened Flavell to grab both points.

The Stars piled on the pressure to try to steal a share of the spoils, but despite a late five-on-three power play they could not find a way past McGill.

Man of the match for the Stars was Michael Elder.

With many positives to take from the trip to Dumfries, Billingham went into their opening home tie against Telford Titans full of optimism and in front of a large Forum crowd.

Telford have not had a good close season, losing several senior players and being forced to fill up the bench with promising youngsters from their U18s squad.

The Shropshire side travelled to Teesside with just 11 skaters and their back-up netminder, by contrast the Stars had a full squad to choose from and started with hot prospect Jack Davies on the first line.

The writing was on the wall for the visitors when Michael Bowman got the Stars opener with less than three minutes on the clock.

From that point it was all one-way traffic as Billingham peppered the Titans net, Bowman adding a second before Callum Davies, Adam Robinson and Callum West with his first senior goal made it 5-0 going into the first interval.

In the second session Stephen Wallace got the sixth in the 23rd minute, followed by another for West, a first for Jack Davies, a short-handed effort from Callum Davies, plus a hat-trick goal for Bowman and another for Wallace making it 11-0 after just 40 minutes of play.

In the final session a rocket shot from the blue line to get Billingham underway again in the 42nd minute, followed by a first senior goal for Jack Emerson and a first goal in a Stars shirt for new defenceman Andy Munroe.

Telford gained a solitary marker from Paul Davies with just over 14 minutes left to play.

The Stars rounded off the scoring in the 47th minute through Scott Ward.

The game ended 15-1 – a record score for Billingham as the Stars.

Man of the match for the Stars was Callum West.

Bilingham’s next fixture in the National Ice Hockey League (N) is the much-anticipated Tyne-Tees derby against Whitley Warriors at Hillheads Road this Sunday.