Monday, 3 April 2017

Summer Cup - Game 1 - Whitley Bay Islanders v Grimsby Lightning 17-1 - Sunday, April 02, 2017

The Whitley Bay Islanders got their 2017 Summer Cup campaign underway yesterday [Sunday], with an emphatic 17-1 win over a much depleted Grimsby Lightning side.
The team from Humberside arrived with just eight skaters and had several key players missing, including former Grimsby Buffaloes pair Luke Green and Mark Turner, who have both played in the English National League during their careers.
Matt Street, once a prolific goal scorer with the Kingston Jets, was another who was unable to make the journey North and it meant an over-reliance was placed on leading scorer James Wardle as they took on an Islanders side that rattled 
in 66 goals over their three pre-season games.
Grimsby came into the game having played in the Summer Cup three times already this season, but having only lost by three goals to the Cleveland Comets a month earlier, the Islanders were expecting a difficult contest. For the main part they did get exactly that before the floodgates opened in the final period.
James Waller and Ben Buckley both scored in the opening three minutes for the Islanders but another former Kingston Jets player, Karl Holmes performed well in goal and limited the Islanders to just a few goal-scoring chances.
The Liam Brown-Craig Thompson-Phil Atherton line were starting to prove hard to handle for the Lightning though, and it was the latter who gave the Islanders a 3-0 lead going into the third intermission after some good link up play from his two line-mates.
The second period started just as frantic as the first, with the Islanders getting a pair of goals early on.
Liam Brown scored the first of his six goals less than a minute after the re-start, while James Ramsey scored a short while after.
Brown got his second at 33:30 after a clever feed by his center Thompson, but a couple of dubious calls were made against the Tyneside outfit which prevented them from building too much momentum.
Kevin Bucas was adjudged to have charged at an opponent when it looked little more than a good and fair hit, while Captain Bobby Bradley followed him into the box 18 seconds later, meaning Whitley had a 5-on-3 penalty to kill.
With Grimsby unable to capitalise with their two-man advantage, Whitley quickly struck again, David Cowey’s strike giving his side a 7-0 lead going into the third period and by now the game looked safe.
Whenever the Grimsby Buffaloes made a visit to Hillheads during their time in the ENL, they would often arrive with a short bench and tire during the final period resulting in a heavy defeat. It would prove to be the same for the Lightning. The Islanders rattled in a further ten goals during the final 15 minutes to give themselves a commanding win, and it was Liam Brown who left the game with most of the plaudits.
He completed his first hat-trick at 44:47 before finding the net a further three times in 3:25 for a natural hat-trick.
It came as no surprise then that the former Warriors Left Wing was awarded his side’s man of the match, but he was quick to pay tribute to his team mates rather than focus on his own individual performance.
"It was a great team performance today," Brown said. "Everyone played their part and it was great to get our cup campaign off to a great start like that."
The Left Wing started the season with the Whitley Warriors but has since decided to return to the Islanders for this season, and was modest when asked about scoring his double hat trick.
"Really, I scored six? I lost count to be honest and I think as a team we eased up a little bit. Grimsby only brought eight skaters with them and we wanted to be respectful and not start show-boating" he added.
None the less it was an impressive way to start the season but Brown is fully focused on the games ahead.
"It will be difficult in the return game in Grimsby, they have a smaller rink than Whitley and its an ice surface which doesn't always help our style of game. Solihull is probably the opposite though, and is somewhere I enjoy playing." he concluded.
Grimsby did eventually get on the score sheet however. Wardle finding the net from a Disley pass at 45:35 to make it 8-1, but further strikes from Stephen Laidler, Bobby Bradley, Jon Huntley and Craig Thompson increased the Islanders lead. James Waller and James Ramsey both grabbed their second goals of the game before the end too.

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