BY CHRISTOPHER BEAL
Streatham opened the 2023-24 NIHL 1 season with a strong opening performance on home ice with a 9-0 win over the Milton Keynes Thunder.
Having been defeated the week before in a pre-season challenge match, coach Ben Paynter was looking for a response from his squad and they certainly answered Streatham would strike first at just under four minutes in, as Brandon Miles and Josh Ealey-Newman would provide the support for Ben Ealey-Newman as he opened both his and Streatham scoring accounts for the year.
One minute later, Ewan Hill opened his account for the RedHawks as he doubled the Streatham lead after giving the Thunder defence the slip out of the neutral zone off a pass by Thomas Beesley, getting in alone on Thunder netminder Danny Norton to slot it home.
Hill would then add a second 2 minutes later as he converted a shot off a face-off win by Beesley to make it 3-0 at 6:23 gone in the first period. Streatham would then add a fourth two minutes later as Danny Ingoldsby would apply the finish after a linkup between Ben Paynter and summer signing Josh Martin in the neutral zone to dangle the puck around Norton to make it 4-0 Streatham.
Tomasz Skokan would round out the scoring in the first period at 10:52 as he would skate up the centre of the Thunder zone after a set up by Ewan Hill and fire a wrist shot into the Thunder net to see Streatham up 5-0 at the end of the period.
It took Streatham seven minutes to find the net in the second period as the Thunder seemed to find another gear and began putting some offensive pressure together.
Josh Ealey Newman would open his goalscoring tally for the season and score by firing low under Norton off a pass by Ziggy Beesley for his first of three goals.
Five minutes later, at 32:28, he would add his second on a short-handed chance after being set up by Skokan and brother Ben Ealey Newman.
A series of hits by Streatham player on the Thunder would culminate in a big hit by James Warman on Cameron Hamill leading to a hit to the head call.
Cameron’s brother Carter would seek retribution for the hit offering out Warman for a fight but instead getting to dance with league heavyweight Brandon Miles in a one-sided fight, that saw all involved head to the box.
Streatham would end the period up 8-0 as another new face on the roster Callum Burnett would pick up his first point, providing the assist on Josh Ealey Newman’s hat-trick
sealing goal at 37 minutes.
Streatham would close out the game, adding one more goal at 44:09 as the Martin, Ingoldsby Paynter, line would convert again. Martin provided the finishing pass from the boards to Paynter, who would redirect the puck up into the roof of the net to end the scoring at 9-0 to Streatham.
Post-game head coach Ben Paynter was pleased his team had stepped up after the previous weekend’s defeat: “It’s always good to get going, to get going with a win is a bonus. We expected a harder
game, but we found our game quickly and hopefully we can build on that going forward. On the new recruits on the roster fitting in
“They’re fitting in great. When we recruit, we sign good people and try and pick up the right players, the reason we’ve had success in recent seasons is we’ve got a good locker room, so we’re trying to keep that and making sure we recruit the right players in the summer. “
Danny Milton, who backstopped the team to a 16-shot shutout, had this to say: “I think we played well, it’s hard to get into games like that as the atmosphere was a bit slow
at the start. But overall, we played well, we did what we needed to and played more as a team instead of individually. And I think that’s what created scoring chances for us. I got a shutout, but it doesn’t matter so much as it’s a team effort and we wanted to be more defensive and solid defensively as a team and coming away with a shutout shows that we can do that.”
Hat-trick hero Josh Ealey Newman: “Getting a 9-0 win gets us off to a good start against a not bad team. It’s good to get going with a win and hopefully we can build off that going into next weekend. It’s good to get a hat-trick to start the season, get a few goals and build some confidence.”
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