A tight 3-2 win at third-placed Billingham Stars pushed Sutton Sting into the fourth and final play-off spot in the National Ice Hockey League One Moralee Conference.
Goals were scored by from Simon Butterworth, Myles Dacres and the game winner by Chris Sykes. Victory in three of the Sting’s last four games will see a play-off place secured.
Sting’s U16’s Division One security took a step closer on Sunday with a 2-2 draw to earn a point with Telford Venom, who have won just two of their 13 games so far this season.
The Sting came from 2-0 behind to level the game and share the two points, which takes Sutton to seventh in the table on nine points ahead of Billingham on four points, with Telford and Deeside in ninth and 10th respectively. The game started brightly for Sutton who did well to contain the Venom for the first few shifts, and then with 3:33 played Telford got the opening goal through a rebound that Sutton failed to clear. The Sting forwards struggled to make any headway against the bigger Venom defencemen and it didn’t take too long for Telford to double their lead with some close net work which was not dealt with and the Venom slotted their second with 7:21 on the clock.
On defence Oliver Mitchell and young Ryan Apsley began to stand up the Venom forwards with Mitchell following on from his strong performance the previous week.
Up front the power forward duo of Charlie Saunders and Jake Apsley, supported by young Ross Jones, also enjoyed some breakaway success. But the Venom held firm until 12:12 when Ryan Apsley intercepted a cross-ice pass and skated through the neutral zone with a cheeky pass to James Spencer who released Jake Apsley to smash home from 5m.
At the start of the second period coach Templar made some important changes and, as the Sting mounted pressure on Telford’s goal, the puck was pushed out to D-man Jack McCormick, who released a one-timer from the blue line which Telford failed to clear and Sutton’s super poacher Bailey Templar tapped-in from close range to level.
The third period saw both teams begin to tire with a couple of minor penalty opportunities not providing either team with any goal scoring chances.
Nick Winters was awarded man of the match.
Sutton’s final five games are all to be played away from home and the team does not need to wait too long or travel too far as they face table-topping Sheffield on Saturday at iceSheffield.
Sting U14s continued their Division One campaign at ice Sheffield last Sunday with a thrilling 8-0 victory over Billingham Stars.
The Sting went into the game in seventh in the league. But with three games in hand over sixth-placed Telford and only six points behind fifth-placed Coventry, there is still a good opportunity for Sutton to climb in to the top half of the table.
With eight minutes played, Sting’s power-trio of Doxey, Jones and Spencer began to put their physical presence on proceedings and a nicely worked attack produced the first goal for Brady Doxey, assisted by Ross Jones and James Spencer on 8:14.
With the second period starting with a five-on-four man advantage for the visitors, Sutton had to be strong from the drop of the puck and they were with change of goalie Nick Winters making two superb blocking saves as the Stars tried to level the scores.
But within 1:13 of the re-start forward James Shaw netted a fantastic solo short-handed goal to provide a two-goal cushion for the home team.
With the penalty killed Sutton began to out-work the Stars, who seemed to be tiring.
Icing three U12 players, Lewis Doxey, Dan Shah and Bradley Geeson, Sutton took control of the game, and with 27:42 played Doxey struck the third goal from James Spencer.
Just nine seconds later Geeson laid on Ross Jones for the fourth and the game was looking comfortable.
Brady Doxey broke free down the left flank to net his second, a superb solo effort, to put the Sting 5-0 up.
With 34 minutes played, a scuffle broke out in front of the Sting net resulting in a 2+10 minute penalty against the Stars and the Sting for checking from behind.
There then followed four minutes of Sutton superiority and three more goals, the first being the goal of the game involving Jones and Spencer, who set up Geeson waiting on the far post to slide home in the empty net.
The next goal was another solo effort from Shaw, which was followed by Geeson repaying the compliment to Ross Jones, assisted by James Spencer. Jack McCormick was named Sting man of the match.
Sting U14s face a tough test this weekend when they travel to Bradford on Saturday evening and then play host to Coventry Blaze at Ice Sheffield on Sunday.