Your Full 9 Yards sponsored Blackburn Hawks had two Moralee Division games last weekend with mixed results.
Firstly on Saturday the Hawks took on Billingham Stars, a team that beat them last time at the Nest. This time in front of a large crowd of nearly 1000 Hawks staged an amazing comeback to take the points.
BLACKBURN HAWKS 7 BILLINGHAM STARS 6 (After Over-time)
Hawks were missing Ross Kennedy, Adam Barnes and Kieran Brown with Harrison Walker the starting netminder.
The game started with Billingham the more offensive but Hawks had the first real chance of the game when James Neil had a skate down the middle and forced a pad save by Watson in the Billingham goal.
Hawks took the lead on 4.39. Craig Lutkovitch worked the puck out from the defensive zone and James Royds, going forward and Watson, in the Billingham net set up for a shot. Royds then fooled the netminder as he set up Danny Nomanovas to slot the puck into the empty net for what was to prove to be his last goal for the Hawks. With Lee Pollitt in the box on a 2 minute interference call, Billingham nearly took advantage. Harrison Walker had to make a pretty good glove save, followed by one with the pads to keep Stars out. The equaliser came on 12.37 as a shot from Shaun Calloway came off a Hawks player and across the line. Hawks were visibly shaken by the fortunate goal and went behind just 18 seconds later with a Craig Thurston goal. Tremendous attacking play by the Stars bombarded the Hawks in their own zone and the home side will consider themselves lucky to be only 1 down at the end of the period.
The 2nd period started as the 1st ended with Stars in the ascendancy and they added to their lead on 23.24. James Moss drew 3 Hawks out wide and crossed the puck to a wide open Michael Elder to make it 1-3.
Hawks were looking well out of it and unable to string two passes together and it was no surprise when the visitors scored again on 31.47. From a face off in their own zone, Stars powered up ice, leaving Hawks trailing in their wake and Craig Thurston scored his second of the night. Harrison Walker’s night was over after the goal and Niks Trapans took over in goal. Two minutes later it was Hawks turn to break out and James Neil fairly flew up the ice to find the back of the net to bring a goal back for the home side. Timed at 33.34, Petr Valusiak was given the assist. He home fans cheering had only just died down when Stars again increased the lead to 3 goals. Cain David Taylor was on had to stuff the puck across the line after confusion around the Hawks crease. 2-5 after 34.32. Stars seemed content with the score and sat back waiting for the counter attack to put Trapans under pressure. Hawks adventurous forward play paid off on 38.28 with Ollie Lomax making no mistake, firing the puck past Watson. 17 seconds later the home crowd were up in the air as Hawks made it a 1 goal game. Valusiak crosse the blue line and sent a pin point pass onto James Neil’s tape and he top shelved the puck for 4-5. The period ended with the crowd buzzing and fidgeting in anticipation of the third period.
Despite being short handed at the start of the third period with James Neil in the box on a slashing penalty, Hawks were pressing for the equaliser. However almost as soon as James returned to the ice, Stars overturned the Hawks momentum and made it 6-4. Craig Thurston scored his 3rd of the evening after a shot by Taylor was saved by Trapans but the rebound was past him before he could re set himself. The crowd fell disappointedly silent but were back up again less than a minute later when James Royds slammed the puck through Watson’s 5 hole to make it 5-6. It was all Hawks now as a visibly tiring Stars team kept the rampant Hawks forwards at bay, with Watson standing on his head with some cracking saves. On 46.01 Hawks dominance paid off. Petr Valusiak worked the puck behind the net, sent it out to James Neil who spotted Lee Pollitt at the back post and he slotted the puck home. The large crowd went absolutely ballistic and the whole arena was rocking for the last 14 minutes as both teams went for the winner. Hawks were now playing the type of hockey we all know they are capable of playing as they peppered Watson from all angles but just could not get the puck in the net. Petr Valusiak was sent to the box on a holding the stick penalty with 4.12 left on the clock and Billingham could sniff a victory. They did not count on netminder Niks Trapans though as he saved shots and rebounds alike and thoroughly deserved the cheers of the crowd with an amazing glove save. With time running out, A stars player fell to the ice. After looking for a sniper in the crowd, and a discussion between the referee and both captains, Steve Duncombe was given a 2 minute penalty for tripping. The Hawks player coach was none too pleased but kept his cool in the box . Stars went on the powerplay that would extend into any overtime. Nobody managed to trouble the goal judges and the game went to overtime.
Niks Trappans was the busiest early on as Stars looked to take advantage of the extra man and he made three superb saves to deny Stars the extra point. 2 minutes 31 seconds into overtime and the roof did come off the arena.
Danny Nomanovas feinted on a shot but was not able to fool Watson who made a great save. The rebound came back to Danny who sent the puck across the crease and it was Lee Pollitt who connected and managed to get the puck over the line for the winner.
An amazing turn around by the Hawks who looked dead and buried with 25 minutes of the game left. This was a win of great effort and determination and will give the team belief in themselves.
Stars man of the match was easy to decide and it went to hat trick hero Craig Thurston.
The Hawks nominee was much harder to choose with Valusiak, Lutkevitch,Neil and Trapens all in the frame. However , not only for his two goals but his excellent two way hockey for the whole game, the beers went to Lee Pollit.
Coach Duncombe was almost speechless after the game, “ What can you say about a come back like that. These guys showed tonight just what they can do with the right mind set.” I wish I could bottle it and release it every game,”
HULL PIRATES 13 BLACKBURN HAWKS 0
Sunday evening was a different story as Hawks fell to an awesome display of power hockey by a very potent Pirates side. Hawks never recovered from a first period 5 goal blitz and lost 4 goals in each of the other two periods. Hawks never gave up but the difference in the budget available for players was very evident in this crushing defeat.
Assistand Coach James Neil, ” It is hard enough to compete with the ex EPL sides with a full squad. To compete with a depleted squad makes it nearly mission impossible. However we kept plugging away and kept heads up as best we could. Now we must re group and get ready for next weekends round of games.”
After the game, the fans had a “skate with the players” session which was enjoyed by all
The players, staff and volunteers wish all fans a Merry Xmas and hope to see you for our game next Saturday against Hull Pirates, face off 1800hrs