Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Penalty Shoot-Out Setback Ends Stars Play-Off Hopes; ICE HOCKEY

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Penalty Shoot-Out Setback Ends Stars Play-Off Hopes; ICE HOCKEY

Article excerpt

Byline: Carol Ramsden Ice hockey correspondent

DIRECTOR of coaching Terry Ward said he could not fault his devastated Billingham Stars players after they produced arguably their best performance of the season in an agonising play-off semi-final defeat.

The Ultimate Windows Stars suffered the ultimate sporting heartbreak as they lost 2-0 against Blackburn Hawks on penalties following a 2-2 draw at the end-of-season showpiece in Dumfries.

In the other semi-final, hosts Solway Sharks dominated Whitley Warriors to ease to a 6-3 victory.

Sunday's final was a niggly, penalty-strewn affair, Solway eventually overcoming Blackburn 2-0 to secure the League, Cup and Play-Off treble.

Billingham were at full strength for the first time since the turn of the year, but were always going to have their work cut out against a Hawks side that had put 16 goals past them in their previous two meetings.

Nevertheless, the Stars took the game to their opponents in the first period and were rewarded with the opening goal when Stephen Wallace scored with a power play effort while Blackburn's Aaron Davies sat out a high sticking call.

A fight between Hawks' Tom King and emerging Billingham youngster Jack Davies towards the end of the period fired up the Stars bench, and with just over a minute to go before the buzzer Wallace bagged his second to send the Teessiders into the dressing room two goals to the good.

Billingham were slow out of the blocks in the second period, and only 91 seconds in Blackburn registered a reply as Aaron Davies fired straight through Stars keeper James Flavell to make it 2-1. The Stars began to look increasingly edgy, with mistakes creeping into their play, and a disastrous pass out of defence found Davies on the blue line and he made no mistake to bring the teams level with his second goal in the 37th minute. …

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