Solway Sharks charge to the top of the Northern Cup table with an emphatic eight-two win over the Billingham Stars at the ice Bowl last Saturday. Blackburn Hawks had the chance to go top on Sunday but crashed six-nil away to a resurgent Whitley Warriors in a clash that counted for both league and cup points.
The Northern Cup remains very close with the Sharks now on eight points, Stars on seven, with Hawks and Warriors both on six points.
Solway went into last weeks clash with Billingham looking to dispel the gossip that with the loss of Richard Bentham they would find scoring very difficult. Having outshot most teams so far this season without really capitalising on their efforts the Sharks finally found some goals but still passed up three glorious chances that would have saw them hit double figures.
Sharks, without a game the previous weekend, looked sluggish in the early exchanges and went behind after six minutes but they slowly clawed their way back into the game and were level at 10:02 from Abercrombie with assists going to Henderson and Moore. Struan Tonnar, starting in defence for the missing Wallace, fired Solway ahead at 16:38 assisted by Edmonds and Fowley. Sharks ended the period on a powerplay but failed to take advantage of the extra man.
Into the second and Solway increased their lead to two at 22:45 through Speirs assisted by Murray and Andrews. Miettinen then shot wide of an open net but made amends minutes later with the home sides fourth goal at 28:55 assisted by Murray. With Sharks now in full control the visitors pulled a goal back at 36:55.
Into the final period Solway found the net at regular intervals racking up four goals in twelve minutes from Moore, Speirs, Andrews and Tonnar unassisted with assists on the other goals going to Miettinen, Henderson, Coulter and Buesa. Sharks ran into penalty problems playing four of the last five minutes shorthanded and giving away a penalty shot into the bargain. However, Hobbins in the Solway net kept the Stars at bay with a string of saves and a little help from the post. That cameo of pressure strangely saw the Stars outshoot the Sharks 18-14 in the final period with the overall shots on goal 43-35 in the home sides favour.
Overall this was a good performance with the promise of more to come and if the sharks can fin their powerplay touch there may be some good times ahead.