Playoff hockey arrived at Devonshire Road for the last time. Russ Richardson was serving the last match of his three match ban and Nick Crawley was still out with a broken ankle. A weakened Warriors side was also missing its coach Peter Winn, and Bucas and Carter through bans.

With Whitley taking an early penalty, Aces were first on the board on the powerplay, Jason Hewitt skating through and firing home from the right. We were on top but then coughed up the puck on our blue line and Paul Graham didn’t need any encouragement to take it in and score in the top corner. Aces came right back and regained the lead within a minute, quick short passes setting up Greg Allen to score at the near post. Billy Price hit the pipework before Aces got another powerplay goal. Two Warriors were in the box and with the referee signalling
another Warriors penalty, the puck reached Stephen Elliott (playing defence to cover absences) and a sweet return shot sailed into the net. Aces scored again on the remaining powerplay, Billy making the opening for Jason to take it round the keeper and in. No goals in the rest of the period but there were chances at both ends, Danny Higgin needing to make good saves.

Aces started the second period well, a hopeful shot from Stephen E finding its way through Warriors goalie, Anthony Markham. Good missed the net with a Warriors powerplay chance, Warriors getting chances but frequently not forcing saves. Then it was 6-1, Brian Worrall opened up the Warriors with a great pass to Billy who skated in and beat Markham before Steve Winn ran over Danny behind the net, Warriors and the ref obviously thinking it was accidental or that Dan was fair game – I don’t think the Warriors would have tolerated it on their goalie in Whitley Bay. Tim’s retribution on Winn set up a Warriors powerplay and Lee Baxter clanged one off the post. Phil Verstappen replaced Danny in the Aces net (both Aces goalies were ill and might have missed the game) at 31.14 and was beaten at 32.13 with Good tipping in a pass from Baxter at the far post. Aces again at 36.17, Billy doing well to get the puck out from the corner to Jason who turned it in but Warriors got another one back when Phil misjudged a rebound off the boards and Baxter accepted the shorthanded present. It was 7-3 at the interval and more goals might still be useful for the Aces in the final playoff table.

One came at 44.28, Tim Dempsey taking it in on the powerplay and putting it under the keeper and then with Howey taking another minor, Simon Mills scored on the new powerplay, latching onto a loose puck and slotting home. Warriors pulled on back at 47.21, scoring after the puck had bounced up and sticks were up and everywhere despite which, the goal was allowed with Baxter the scorer. Still an end to end game. Tim added Aces’ tenth taking the puck in from the point and beating Markham. Phil made a good save to deny Graham one on one before Winn tried to show how hard he was, landing punches from behind on Billy and then strangely only getting 2+2. To finish, the Warriors tried to nail any Ace that moved, took a late penalty to make it 4 on 4 and Brian took it through and shot home to widen a crucial margin further.

1-0 02.05 Hewitt from Dempsey and Allen PPG
1-1 06.03 Graham
2-1 06.33 Allen from Mills
3-1 09.49 Elliott from Allen PPG
4-1 10.16 Hewitt from Price and Elliott PPG
5-1 20.58 Elliott from Price
6-1 26.25 Price from Hewitt
6-2 32.13 Good from Baxter and Dunn
7-2 36.17 Hewitt from Price and Elliott
7-3 39.12 Baxter from Dowd SHG
8-3 44.28 Dempsey from Worrall PPG
9-3 45.52 Mills from Daly and Price PPG
9-4 47.21 Baxter from Dunn Crawley from Stretton PPG
10-4 56.34 Dempsey from Michie
11-4 59.54 Worrall


Tim Dempsey 2+1, Greg Allen 1+2, Steve Michie 0+1, Brian Worrall 1+1, Jason Hewitt 3+2, Simon Mills 1+0, Arran Richardson, Stephen Elliott 2+2 (MoM), Luke Stretton,
Steve Daly 0+1, Billy Price 1+5
Phil Verstappen (28m 46s, 21s, 3g, 85.71%), Danny Higgin (31m 14s, 15s, 1g, 93.33%)

SOG 41-36 PIMS 22-60