Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Whitley Bay Islanders Claim Emphatic Win Over Newcastle Predators

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Had any Whitley Warriors supporters walked into Hillheads Ice Rink around 10pm Sunday evening, they might just have believed they had been transported back to in time to 1998.
Kevin Bucas, James Waller and Bobby Bradley were all out on the ice, doing what they do best, delivering huge hits, scoring lots of goals and racking up a large score line in the process.
Indeed, had it not been for the fact that trio were decked out in the yellow jerseys of the Whitley Bay Islanders, this could well have been a Warriors game from around the turn of the millennium.
All three players had a prominent role, as the Islanders served notice to their Summer Cup rivals that they are a team not to be taken lightly this season, after a comprehensive 14-1 victory over Tyneside rivals, Newcastle Predators.
The Islanders who were the designated away team, looked classy throughout and were a goal to the good just seconds into the contest when Liam Brown finished a smart move from Craig Thompson and Phil Atherton.
That lead was then doubled at 1:49 when James Waller netted with his first of the evening.
At that stage the rampant Islanders looked to run riot, but the Predators were able to stop the bleeding and it wasn’t until the nine minute mark that the Islanders could add to their lead.
"We had a good start but it descended into a bit of a scrappy game after 10 minutes or so," said Waller who also grabbed the Islanders' third goal. "We took a lot more Penalties than we would of liked too. Still, it gave us a chance to work on our penalty kill at least."
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The former Warriors winger was in fine form and was breezing past the Predators defense, somehow finding space between opponents and the boards, that others couldn’t. His partnership with former Warriors team mate Bradley and Left Wing, Liam Telfer will be vital to the Islanders again this season and that trio certainly linked up well, combining for six of their teams goals, but it was the line of Liam Brown-Craig Thompson-Phil Atherton who took the plaudits.
They also combined for six goals, with Atherton awarded man-of-the-match for his side too. For the Islanders that was great news, giving them two scoring lines, and taking some of the pressure off the top trio. Atherton's line also had some new members on the blue line, meaning a brand new five man unit out on the ice.
"The game gave the coach [Tony Armstrong], a chance to try out some new line combinations." Waller said. "The Bucas-Huntley Defense pairing started with Atherton-Thompson-Brown, who would normally line up with Haslam-Richardson."
With the score at 3-0 as the teams made their way into the second period, the Predators were far from out of it, but the Islanders had other ideas and soon exploded for a further six goals to take the game away from their opponents. Liam Brown, fresh from playing for the Warriors earlier in the season tapped home into an almost empty net at 24:33, before his line-mate on the opposite wing, Atherton made it five just over a minute later.
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By now both sides were reduced to playing 4-on-4 and it was the Islanders who exploited that best. A minute after Atherton’s goal, Bobby Bradley scored his first of the game as the pair got involved in their own personal scoring contest. Atherton netted again at 34:19 but then Bradley countered with his second of the night just over a minute later. Atherton still had time to complete his hat trick before the period was over though, to make it 9-0 at 38:10.
Despite some great individual scoring feats for the likes of Bradley, Atherton and Liam Brown, the goals were still spread around the team some what. Paul Scott, who was playing on a line with Chris Brown and former Warriors Center, Ben Buckley, netted just ten seconds into the final period, as the Islanders exerted their superiority, and it was a goal Waller was delighted about.
"It was nice for a few of the lads to pick up goals," he added. "Especially a great goal for Paul 'Scotty' Scott assisted by Junior legend Chris Brown."
By now the game was long since over as a contest, but that didn’t mean either team was going to give an inch. Kevin Bucas gave a master class in the art of hitting, and showed just why so many Warriors fans wished he was still patrolling their blue line. On his first shift ‘Juice’ delivered a full-bloodied hit to show he meant business and was still dealing them out deep into the final period.
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With just over ten minutes left in the game, came a major flash point. Both teams were unhappy at a series of hits which culminated in a mini-brawl and saw James Waller of the Islanders and Carl Wood of the Predators earning themselves a trip to the penalty box.
That meant both sides were reduced to 4-on-4 again and once more it was the Islanders who dealt with the situation better.
Raymond Haslam looked class all evening and when he unleashed a rocket of a shot that was well outside the blue line, it gave the Predators Canadian goalie, Brent Hope no chance.
Just 27 seconds later, Bradley completed his hat trick with a great solo effort, taking the puck past a number of players before slotting home.
It was a busy evening for Hope, who has joined the Predators this season but the same couldn't really be said for his opposite number.
Calvin Khass had a relatively quiet evening between the pipes for the Islanders, and was inching nearer to a shut-out, but the Predators made sure they wouldn’t leave the game with a goose egg on the score board when Martin King converted at 51:18.
There was still time for another 4-on-4, and that meant further goals for the Islanders. Liam Brown slotted home after another rocket-like shot from Haslam caromed back off Hope and Bobby Bradley completed the scoring at 53:09 to get his fourth of the night. His line-mate Waller, believed it was ideal preparation for his side.
"The game was a good chance to stretch our legs as it was the first action that several members of the team had played since August 2016." he said. "It was the second of three pre-season games for the team before the Summer Cup League schedule begins."
"Obviously it's always nice to get a 14-1 win, especially following the big win two weeks previous for the other half of the squad." he added.
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The Islanders certainly put down a marker ahead of their Summer Cup campaign, with a huge win over a good Predators side.
The return to the ice of Kevin Bucas was one of the many highlights during the game. His first shift delivering a huge hit, and it was certainly nice to know some things never change.
And it was the effort his team put in that Islanders coach and former Whitley Warriors defenseman Tony Armstrong was pleased with.
"It was a great team performance and it was great to see the team effort." He said. "The depth that the squad has at the moment is fantastic."

It will be that strength in depth which could prove vital when the Islanders commence their Summer Cup campaign in the coming weeks. With preparations building, they take to the ice again next Sunday, against the Hull City Knights [Face Off 4pm].
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Whilst it was a perfect result for the Islanders, it was a much tougher night for the Predators, who are next in action in a fortnight's time when they take part in the annual Dumfries Tournament over the weekend on March 11-12 before their Northern Rec Cup campaign gets underway in April.
Forward 'Doug' Penaluna felt playing the Islanders was still a good work out for his side despite the scoreline.
"We always expect a tough game when we play the Islanders," he said. "They have bags of experience and they are very well drilled. They have quite a few ex league players too so they were never going to be a push over. Naturally we would have liked a closer game but obviously they were the superior team on the night."
Penaluna, who also ices for the Whitley Bay Lightning, believes facing such a strong side was perfect preparation for Dumfries. 
"It's always good to get some matches in before a tournament." he said. "We never pick and choose which teams we play, we are happy to take on all comers and don't shy away from anyone."
"The Dumfries tournament is always a tough weekend too, so hopefully playing a team like the Islanders has given us all a heads up for what to expect in Scotland." he added.
The Predators player also reserved a special mention to the Predators Canadian born Goaltender Brent Hope, who made a particularly great save towards the end of the game.
"Brent had a really good game on Sunday," he said. "Obviously we conceded a lot of goals but he had a hell of a lot of saves to make in that 60 minutes. He had a huge lay off from the game too, and I don't think he has played for over a decade, until a few months ago."
Like Penaluna, Hope is duel registered with the Lightning. But he was not the only North American born player to take to the ice for the Predators on Sunday. American born Ronald Christopher, who hails from Missouri, iced as a forward against the Islanders but is usually found between the pipes just like his cross-Atlantic team-mate.
"Ron is actually a Goalie too but hasn't had his kit sent over from the States, so he is playing as a forward right now." confirmed Penaluna. "He's got good fitness, which goes a long way in Rec hockey, but we're all intrigues to see what he's like between the pipes." he added.

Also a huge thank you goes to Whitley Bay Ice Hockey and David Mellstrom for the Photos.
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Islanders Line Up
3 Liam Telfer - 25 Bobby Bradley - 88 James Waller
44 Liam Brown - 86 Craig Thompson - 33 Phil Atherton
91 Chris Brown - 13 Ben Buckley - 8 Paul Scott

58 Jon Huntley - 77 Kevin Bucas
14 Raymond Haslam - 6 Tim Richardson
2 Steve Laidler - 17 Graeme Leslie

20 Calvin Khass

Newcastle Predators
90 Shaun Osbourne - 70 Anthony Charters - 65 Jake Shanks
11 Ian Russell - 20 Paul Brumby - 17 Stuart Davis
13 Stuart Darby - 16 Curt Elgie - 36 Jamie 'Doug' Penaluna
5 Derek Hodgkiss - 90 Shaun Osbourne - 21 Ronald Christopher

55 Mark Bone - 40 Lee Gill
19 Carl Wood - 80 Martin King
69 Graeme Nelson - 4 Adam Winter

1 Brent Hope - Simon Barry
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