Altrincham Aces visited Whitley Bay for their first game of the season for the second year running. Absentees were Arran Richardson and Jason Hewitt (suspended), Danny Higgin, Alan Hough, and Nick Crawley. Junior player, Dave Meickle, made his Aces debut.

Unusually, at Whitley Bay, their first intimidatory challenge missed but Warriors took an early lead when a flowing move saw Andrew Carter net from wide on the left. Aces equalized on their second powerplay of the night with Billy Price winning the puck behind the net and passing in front for Greg Allen to score. Aces had a good run of play against a strong Warriors side but one that was perhaps struggling to accommodate four new signings from the previous week. Luke Stretton forced a good save with a low screened shot halfway through the period but Aces then gave up a short handed goal as Lee Baxter collected a cleared puck in the corner and centred for Paul Graham to score. Baxter and Simon Mills soon disappeared for 2+10 in a fight protecting our goalie. As the existing powerplay ended, Darren Taylor skated over the red line and unleashed a rocket that beat Phil Verstappen but came back off the post. Referee Wardell (in an otherwise good display) was adamant it went in and gave the goal despite his two linesmen and the goal judge agreeing it hit the post. Aces pulled one back just before the end of the period when good passing between Brian Worrall, Greg Allen and Billy Price opened up the net for Billy to score a simple goal.

The second period started with another Warriors early goal, Darren Taylor dispossessing Greg Allen on the blue line and firing home. Aces had a good chance on the powerplay when a slanted pass from Russ Richardson was almost tipped in by Billy Price. Warriors were to go further ahead though when Paul Graham beat the Aces defence for pace on the left and skated in and beat Phil Verstappen. With things starting to look ominous, Aces staged a comeback that would see Billy Price score three more goals to level the game by the end of the period. Simon Mills fought through a couple of challenges and got a shot off that missed at the near post but rebounded off the wall for Billy to net at the far post. The next goal came on the powerplay with Billy skating across the ice to make space to score and the equalizer arrived in the final minute with an Aces penalty just expiring, Greg Allen sent a long pass out of defence which set Billy up to convert a breakaway chance.

All to play for in the final period. Aces had an early powerplay but needed a post to save them (this time the ref did see it!) before Phil Verstappen (after several attempts over the past couple of years) finally managed a diving poke check to deny a Paul Graham breakaway. Aces then had a good spell of pressure before they coughed the puck up in defence and Darren Taylor slotted home. Play went end to end with Steve Daly being stopped in front. Phil's second (botched) attempt at a diving poke check caused a few heart murmurs before he redeemed himself with two close range stops. Our problem was now that we were running out of steam with this being our first game of the season - the ref was also letting the game flow. Billy Price forced a good stretching save from Anthony Markham with a low shot with about three minutes left but as the clock ran down, we couldn't force any decent pressure. We were lucky to escape a too many men penalty with our first attempt to pull the goalie but when Phil did manage to leave the ice with 17 seconds left, we couldn't force the opening.

It was a close game and Aces will improve as they regain match fitness. With a bit more luck going our way though we could have had the points. Dave Meickle impressed on his debut and Luke Stretton had probably his best game so far for the Aces.

1-0 01.03 Carter from Tindale and Bucas
1-1 04.56 Allen from Price PPG
2-1 15.13 Graham from Baxter and Bucas SHG
3-1 17.10 Taylor from Matthews
3-2 19.43 Price from Allen and Worrall
4-2 20.55 Taylor
5-2 29.10 Graham from Bradley
5-3 30.32 Price from Mills
5-4 33.18 Price from Mills and Allen PPG
5-5 39.17 Price from Allen
6-5 45.16 Taylor from Baxter


Kevin Cassidy, Greg Allen 1+3, Russ Richardson, Brian Worrall 0+1, Simon Mills 0+2,
Dave Meickle, Stephen Elliott, Billy Price 4+1, Luke Stretton, Steve Daly, Phil Keelan
Phil Verstappen (31s, 6g, 80.65%), Kris Beaumont

SOG 31-38 PIMS 28-16