Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Stars Upbeat for Play-Offs despite Challenge Defeat

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Stars Upbeat for Play-Offs despite Challenge Defeat

Article excerpt

Byline: ICE HOCKEY By Carol Ramsden Ice hockey correspondent

DIRECTOR of coaching Terry Ward feels the play-off picture is bright for Billingham Stars even though their first game of a challenge match double header against Whitley Warriors ended in a 7-5 defeat.

The games have been arranged to keep both sides fit and match-ready for their upcoming play-off fixtures against Solway and Blackburn.

And Ward reckons Billingham have plenty to shout about ahead of the post-season and return clash against Whitley at Billingham Forum on Saturday after recovering from a disastrous four-goal, first period defi-cit to make things interesting.

Although he admits the Stars have to cut out the mistakes which saw them have a poor start and finish to the game, he was pleased with the Teessiders' grit and determination and thinks both North-east rivals can do well in the April 12-13 play-off weekend.

Billingham travelled without some key players to minimise the risk of aggravating niggling injuries.

Both senior netminders were unavailable for the match, so the Stars iced Whitley third choice keeper Joe Harley to start the game.

Ward said: "We started off really poorly and gave some crazy goals away.

"In the first period we were absolutely dreadful and had a few choice words in the dressing room after it.

"We came out for the second all fired up and came right back into the game, which shows the character in the team.

"In the last few minutes we made a couple of dreadful mistakes to allow the two goals to go in that cost us the game.

"We've got to learn from that, but I think both teams can be positive ahead of the play-offs.

"It gives us both confidence that we can go to the play-offs and give Blackburn and Solway good games, if not take them."

The Warriors took less than a minute to get off the mark with top scorer Adam Reynolds putting them in front. …

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