Whitley Bay Warriors continue to show their dominance in the league, five points clear of second-place Solway Sharks with a victory over Nottingham Lions last Sunday.
Since the formation of a new league, NIHL National Division, it has allowed Whitley Warriors to claim the top spot in the league. Solway Sharks (second) and Solihull Barons (third) are the only teams at the moment who can pose a threat to the warriors for the spot.
Solihull Barons and Warriors both have cup games to attend before they return to another league game. However, Solway Sharks can tighten the gap as they have four upcoming league games against; Blackburn Hawks, Sutton Sting and Barons before Whitley will get the chance to fight back against the title contenders.
Understandably, it is still early days for the league’s 2019/20 campaign, and anything can always happen.
Top team, most penalty minutes
Despite the Warriors impressive start to the season, with only two back-to-back defeats, out of a total of eight games in the league and English Ice Hockey Association North Cup. Both of these defeats coming at the hands of Solway Sharks, who nipped their win streak in the bud before it grew any more significant.
They have still racked up 124 minutes in the penalty box over the first month of the season, going into October. Most of these coming from Dean Holland, who racked up 46 minutes in the box, the most out of the entire league. The next skater to rack up more minutes than him would be Baron’s skater, Richard Crowe, who has only 29 minutes in the box over the first month and a half.
It wouldn’t be as worrying if Holland were currently sitting around the bottom of the player stats. However, he is sitting in 15th. Despite the growing gap between Warriors and Sharks, it should concern fans as the gap it isn’t that big, and he has almost racked up a games worth of time in the sin bin. If they look to keep hold of the league for the rest of the season, then the team needs to maintain discipline going forward. Power plays are a valuable asset for teams to use, and it could be the difference between winning and losing a game.
Warriors are overthrown
Second place, Ben Campbell, once again leads his team in terms of the leagues player stats, two points higher than teammates Phillip Edgar (third) and, Player-Coach, David Longstaff (fourth) who are both currently sitting on 11 points.
Longstaff, last week, lead the player stats – quite literally, led his team by example. However, Blackburn Hawks skater Petr Valusiak overthrew the warriors from the top spot this week, climbing three points clear of Campbell, who sits on 13 points in the league.
With Whitley’s current momentum going forward, I can’t see any reason why one of the warriors can’t reclaim the top spot in the player stats. But this will all depend on how the next five cup games go.
One month, one league game
Looking forward to the rest of the month, Whitley has recently played their only league game in October, which saw Warriors slaughter Nottingham Lions 8-0 on October 13.
After this fans still have games to watch, North Cup games. Five to be exact. One is this weekend against Dundee Comets, at the Whitley Bay Ice Rink.
Warriors will be then faced with battles against Sharks, Billingham Stars and Murrayfield Racers before they arrive at their next league game against the Barons on November 17.