SOLIHULL Barons opened their 2015/16 campaign with a 6-2 home defeat against Whitley Warriors in the NIHL South One division on Sunday evening.
It was Whitley’s first visit to Solihull for a number of years and the Warriors came into the match high in confidence having gone through pre-season undefeated and they certain to ask questions of the newly promoted Barons.
In front of a bumper crowd, a frenetic and physical first period would end scoreless despite both sides having powerplay opportunities.
Tight defensive play by both sides ensured the opportunities for quality shots on goal at either end of the ice were kept to a minimum.
The deadlock however was broken in the second period when Callum Watson lofted a shot over Barons keeper Steve Lickman and into the net.
After that the second period followed a similar pattern as the first with physical attacks being countered by robust defence.
A Barons effort just before the half-hour mark looked to have levelled things but no goal was awarded.
They were however level moments later thanks to Tom Soar who tapped home his own rebound from close range.
But the remainder of the period would not prove so successful for Solihull.
A goal by Harry Harley gave the Warriors back their advantage, while a goal-mouth scramble was knocked in by Callum Queenan to see the Barons heading to the dressing room 3-1 down heading into the final period.
Solihull returned poorly and with Joe Henry going down badly with a knee injury the visitors were able to score a fourth through skipper James Tinsley.
Four minutes later Whitley made it 5-1 when Joe Stamp found the net although soon after Phil Knight kept the Barons in the match with their second.
But young Callum Queenan would get the Warriors’ final goal with five minutes to go before the game ended with a series of fights involving Barons Rob Eley and Dave Rogers along with the much vaunted clash between Solihull’s Perry Doyle and the Warriors Andre Payette.
It was a disappointing scoreline that somewhat underestimated Solihull’s contribution to a highly entertaining game and a hard grafting performance by the home side.
They will look to put things right this Sunday when the two teams go head-to-head again in the North East.