The BCD Solway Sharks crashed out of the play-off race thanks to a disappointing five-three road loss to the Solihull Barons on Sunday night and must now look to strengthen the squad for next seasons title challenge.
After a tense opening couple of minutes the Sharks once more fell behind to an early opening goal when Edward Eaton and Luke Brittle combined to set up the dangerous Niklas Ottosson (03:52) to score from the inside edge of the left-hand face-off circle. The home side continued to press and were in the Solway players faces at every opportunity and finished off their fore checks in an authoritative manner.
The pressure on the Solway defence mounted and soon forced a powerplay to the Barons from which Thomas Soar (09:28 PP) netted neatly with Andrew Whitehouse and Tomas Janak heavily involved in the build-up. The Sharks did manage to stem the tide and had several opportunities to get on the scoreboard themselves before the first interval with Connor Henderson, Duncan Speirs and Iain Bowie all looking dangerous at times but it was not to be and the period ended with the hosts leading two-nil.
Solway started the second period on the front foot and had a couple of half chances to reduce the deficit before Marek Charvat (25:55 pictured) pounced on a loose puck in a goalmouth scramble to open their account. Things were looking up – but not for long. Thirty-eight seconds later the Barons were two ahead once more when (26:33) Edward Eaton set up Luke Brittle to fire home goal number three for the home side.
While Solihull generally held the upper hand for a lot of the period there was not really an awful lot between the two teams and netminders Calum Hepburn and Daniel Brittle made a mumber of good saves to keep the score constant. However, the Sharks keeper could do little to prevent Tomas Janak (36:51) scoring the Barons fourth counter with an excellent finish to swift solo breakaway. Solway had to hit back quickly if the wanted to keep this tie alive and hit back they did. A powerplay gave them the opportunity to put pressure on the home defence and Duncan Speirs (38:31 PP) provided his usual lethal finish from the slot with assistance on the play from Kyle Horne and Joe Coulter.
Once more the Sharks needed a good start to the final period and it looked to be going in their favour when Joe Coulter and James Hutchinson worked hard to win the puck on the left-hand boards and send it to Scott Henderson (41:13) who was waiting to convert at the back post. Unfortunately, for the second time that night, the Sharks lost the momentum they had just gained within a minute when Josh Bruce (41:37) collected a Tomas Janak pass and converted with aplomb.
The Sharks tried all that they knew to fight their way back into the game but, with key players missing through injury or playing while not fully fit, this was to prove to be a bridge too far. Solihull, to their credit, closed out the game in a competent and professional manner to progress to the next round of the play-off’s. Things might have been different if the referee, Mr Rose had not ruled out what appeared to be a perfectly good Sharks goal for goaltender interference with five minutes to go. Over the course of the night the referee’s calls were inconsistent, but it was inconsistency towards both teams and he certainly didn’t alter the course of the game.
Man of the Match for the Sharks was presented to Connor Henderson while Daniel Brittle received that honour for the Barons.