Billingham Stars defeat Blackburn Hawks in league clash

editorial image

Billingham Stars got their National Ice Hockey League (N) Moralee Division 1 campaign back on track on Sunday evening with a hard-fought 3-2 victory over reigning champions Blackburn Hawks at the Forum.

Player/coach Michael Bowman and Ben Davison were on target for The Stars with Michael Elder scoring the decisive goal in the 36th minute.

The Stars’ Director of Coaching Terry Ward expressed some relief at the end of the game.

He said: “We thought we were in control of that one – we killed the puck in their zone in the last couple of minutes and didn’t give them chance to pull the goalie.

“We kept hold of the puck well for the whole game.

“We got the run of the puck this week where last weekend we didn’t, these things even themselves out over a season.”

In the sixth minute when Blackburn scored against the run of play but just before the ten-minute mark Bowman fired into the top corner for 1-1.

The period was to end in dramatic fashion as Ben Davison broke down the left wing with the clock counting down, his shot hitting the back of the net just as the buzzer went to give Billingham the lead at the interval.

Billingham finally got their reward for a dominant middle session performance with a touch of good fortune as a shot from Michael Elder trickled under Ashton’s pads for 3-1 in the 36th minute.

Man-of-the-Match for Billingham was Callum Davies.

The Stars are in their first Cup action of the season as they host Solway Sharks next Sunday September 25 at the Forum, face off 6.30pm. Tickets can be bought from the box office from 5.30pm priced at £10 adults, £6 concessions, £30 family [2+2].

The Stars started with fire in their bellies as they looked to avenge their 5-2 defeat last weekend and had the puck in the net on four minutes but play was brought back as James Moss had drifted offside.

It was déjà vu for Billingham in the sixth minute when Blackburn scored against the run of play, Patrik Nyman collecting a loose puck at centre ice and setting up Aaron Davies for the one timer into the bottom corner.

The Stars went back on the offensive, Chris Sykes going just wide in the eighth minute and Dennis Boström striking Hawks’ netminder Stuart Ashton’s mask a minute later.

Boström was instrumental in the home side’s equaliser just before the ten-minute mark as he stole the puck mid ice and passed to Player/Coach Michael Bowman who fired into the top corner for 1-1.

The period was to end in dramatic fashion as Ben Davison broke down the left wing with the clock counting down, his shot hitting the back of the net just as the buzzer went to give Billingham the lead at the interval.

The late goal galvanised the home side who came out flying once more.

The Stars thought they had the puck in the net in the 23rd minute but Ashton plucked it out of the air to prevent his side falling further behind.

Sykes was next to test Ashton in the 27th minute with a quick shot on the spin, then the 33rd minute Callum Davies beat the last defender with a clever move but his shot went over the bar.

Billingham finally got their reward for a dominant middle session performance with a touch of good fortune as a shot from Michael Elder trickled under Ashton’s pads for 3-1 in the 36th minute.

The visitors’ response was almost immediate, a last-gasp stick save from netminder James Flavell poking the puck over the bar and out of danger less than a minute later to keep the lead at two goals at the break.

The Stars came out for the final period looking to make the game safe, Elder forcing a glove save from Ashton with less than a minute played.

In the 42nd minute, James Moss robbed Nick Oliver in the Hawks defensive zone but his shot went over the bar, then Elder and Andy Finn both saw their efforts kicked away by Ashton in the 44th minute.

Paul Windridge almost squeezed the puck between Ashton’s legs in the 46th minute, the Blackburn goaltender under siege as Moss, Matthew Campbell and Scott Ward all tested him before the 50-minute mark.

Billingham hit a spell of penalty trouble and the Hawks made their hosts pay when Steven Duncombe fired into the roof of the net, the Stars looking increasingly nervous as the clock counted down. Blackburn called a timeout with 71 seconds to play to discuss when to pull Ashton, but the Stars put the pressure back on and gave their visitors no opportunity to give themselves the extra attacker, the buzzer eventually sounding on a deserved 3-2 victory for the home side.

Man-of-the-Match for Billingham was Callum Davies.

The Stars are in their first Cup action of the season as they host Solway Sharks next Sunday 25th September at the Forum, face off 6.30pm. Tickets can be bought from the box office from 5.30pm priced at £10 adults, £6 concessions, £30 family [2+2].

ENDS