The Blackburn HAWKS played host to the Billingham Stars on Sunday in what was a must-win game for both teams. For Billingham, a victory at the Blackburn Arena would help them keep pace with league-leading Solway Sharks, while for the home side it was an opportunity to get their season back-on-track following only one win in the last eight games.
New signing Jon Adams who had recently flown in from Canada was present in the stands to watch a gutsy performance, while Tom King was back in Hawks colours following a season with the Deeside Dragons.
Following an aggressive opening few minutes from both teams, the Hawks were the first to open their account as Rick Ravey moved into space, recieved a pin-point pass from Aaron Davies and slotted the puck past Billingham’s James Flavell. This sparked protests from the Stars bench who believed the game should have been stopped to attend to the injured Martyn Davies. However, the goal stood and Davies was helped from the ice, unable to return for the rest of the evening.
The first period continued at a furious pace with the Lancastrians getting the lion’s-share of possession and opportunities on goal, but neither side were able to capitalise.
The second period brought an initial lull in proceedings as both teams battled for chances on goal. Both teams exchanged penalties before Ric Hughes finished off Matt Viney’s cross-ice pass after stealing the puck along the boards and skating in on the Billingham zone.
However, the Stars soon answered and opened their account for the evening as Ben Davidson played an unchallenged pass to the feet of Jack Davies who forced the puck, and netminder Brittle, to the back of the net.
A bench-minor penalty for ‘too many men’ on the ice gifted the Stars their second of the evening when Richie Thornton’s hard shot through traffic was tipped by Scott Ward past an unsighted Danny Brittle.
With the game up for grabs the home-side rolled forward in the third period and found their reward when Player Coach Jared Owen jumped on a cleared puck to confidently fire his side into the lead once more.
With just over five minutes left in the game, Blackburn sealed the victory as Matt Viney once again stripped the Billingham defence of the puck before finding Adam Brittle, then David Miekle who scored from close in.
The Hawks return to action next Saturday against Sutton Sting in the Northern Cup.
(Images by John Milton http://www.togger.co.uk)