Billingham Stars lose opening Northern Cup match in overtime against Solway Sharks

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Billingham Stars threw away a three-goal lead as they lost their opening Northern Cup match in overtime against Solway Sharks at the Forum.

Billingham’s Director of Coaching Terry Ward could not hide his anger at the way his side gave up such a commanding position.

He said: “We knew Solway were never going to give up but we’ve got to turn up for three periods, not just two.

“We weren’t chasing down pucks, we weren’t doing anything that we were doing in the first two periods.

“We were in control– we worked really hard in the first, shut them down in the second, then the third – everybody could see for themselves, it was terrible.”

The Stars got the early breakthrough when Jack Emerson broke clear and scored from a tight angle on the backhand in the third minute.

Swedish import Daniel Palmebjörk grabbed his first competitive goal for the Stars with another backhand shot from close range.

The Teessiders were next to hit penalty trouble and the Scots were quick to capitalise in the eighth minute,

Bentham’s trip on James Moss saw the former Blackburn man take a seat in the 11th minute – the penalty had almost expired when a blue line slap from Richie Thornton ricocheted off the post and fell to Michael Bowman who made no mistake on the backhand.

Billingham were in full control and made it 4-1 in the 15th minute when Moss found Dennis Boström on the opposite wing and the Swede one timed past Sharks goaltender Kieran Hobbins to leave Solway seemingly all at sea after the first period.

The Sharks clawed one back with just over a minute played of the second session.

Both sides were very effective on the power play and so it proved once more as Billingham extended their lead in the 31st minute with Solway’s Miettinen sitting out a slashing minor.

Thornton skated through and hooked at the last second by Stuart Kerr but Chris Sykes was there to pounce on the rebound and score on a delayed penalty call, the score a comfortable 5-2 going into the second break.

The Sharks started their comeback in the 46th minute, added a second six minutes later and the equaliser came in the 57th minute to send the game into sudden-death overtime.

90 seconds into the five-minute overtime period, Thornton was called for tripping as he desperately tried to stop a Sharks breakaway,

Solway allowed the extra man to give them a four-on-three power play.

Billingham called a timeout to discuss how to protect their net but it was to no avail – with three minutes gone the visitors stole the puck in the neutral zone and surged forward through Duncan Speirs, the youngster making no mistake to hand what had seemed an unlikely victory to the Scots.

Man-of-the-Match for the Stars was Mark Watson.

The Stars travel to Whitley Warriors on Sunday in a game that counts for both the League and the Cup. Face off at Hillheads is 5pm.