The BCD Solway Sharks travelled across country to Billingham on Sunday night and returned victorious after an excellent seven-three victory to maintain their position at the top of National Cup Group A with a four point advantage and with just two games against Blackburn remaining.
With the previous nights slow start against Hull still on their minds the Sharks were fast out of the blocks against the Stars and took the lead on a powerplay in the fourth minute when Stevie Moore (03:17 PP) was on hand to net after good build up play from James Hutchinson and Duncan Speirs. Solway continued to press (06:10) and it was not long before Stuart Kerr doubled their advantage from the blueline with Moore and Speirs claiming assists.
For a while the home side were able to steady the ship but the Sharks had tasted blood and wanted more and it was of little surprise when Vaclav Kolarik (14:27) scored goal number three with a fierce wrist shot into the roof of the Billingham net from the slot. Within a minute Solway captain Struan Tonnar (15:18) found his way onto the scoresheet when he prodded home from close range after a swift break down the right wing involving Marek Charvat and Ross Murray.
Billingham netminder Mark Watson was having a rare poor game and the home side chose this moment to call a time out and replace him in goal with regular number one, James Flavell. This seemed to give the Stars more confidence and a short spell of pressure paid dividends when Michael Elder (18:41) was on hand to stroke home Darren Stattersfield’s pass to get the home side on the scoreboard.
The Stars began the second period on a powerplay and quickly set about reducing the deficit to two which came courtesy of Chris Sykes (20:28 PP) when he was on hand to score assisted by Callum Davies and Darren Stattersfield. Solway were soon back on the scoresheet through Ross Murray (27:25) when he was on hand to deflect home a high puck from close range which the home side unsuccessfully claimed was high sticks.
Goal number six came right on the midway point in the match when Duncan Speirs (30:02 pictured) was set free on the left wing by Stevie Moore and from a very narrow angle close to the goal line was able to squeeze the puck home via a deflection from the back of Flavell’s pads. Shortly after this the home sides frustration boiled over with Jack Davies and Joe Coulter going to-to-toe in a prolonged pugilistic effort that was well received by the home crowd. Billingham reduced the deficit to three and gave their vocal support hope when Darren Stattersfield (37:03) found the net from Deniss Baskatov’s pass.
The Stars knew that they needed a quick goal at the beginning of the final period if they were to have any hope of getting anything out of this game and they certainly gave it their best efforts roared on by the home crowed who had been belting out the theme tune from “The Great Escape” since the sixth minute. Solway, however, were prepared to soak up the pressure and hit on the break and to this end were rarely troubled. The only goal in this session came in the final minute of the game when Scott Henderson (59:05) collected a Marek Charvat pass, slipped past the last defender and fired home with a powerful shot from the high slot.
The Man of the Match Award for the Sharks went to Joe Coulter for the Sharks and to Jack Davies for the home side.