The BCD Solway Sharks travelled across country to Billingham on Sunday knowing that they only needed to avoid a seven goal defeat to the second placed Stars to return as Moralee Conference champions but one better with a tremendous five-two victory in a feisty encounter.
After withstanding an initial onslaught from the home side the Sharks soon began to find their feet and Struan Tonnar (05:09) calmed Solway nerves and silenced the home crowd when he collected Jordan Buesa’s pass and shot home the opening goal from close range. For the remainder of the period Billingham looked for the key to unlock the resolute Sharks defence and, had they brought their shooing sticks, they might have levelled the scores on one of several break-away opportunities.
Early in the second period Marc Fowley (23:40) hammers a second nail into the Stars coffin when he rounded of a flowing attack involving Duncan Speirs and Joe Coulter and less than two minutes later Daniel Abercrombie (25:27) gave Solway a three-nil advantage on a powerplay when he fired home from Stevie Moore’s pass. Billingham, however, hand no intention of lying down on home ice and staged a spirited comeback that was justly rewarded when Chris Sykes (32:22) converted from close range.
The major flashpoint of the night came three minutes later when Michael Elder slash Stuart Andrews stick from his hand with such force that it flew from the back boards to the blueline. Andrews reclaimed his stick and unwisely chased Elder and retaliated with a slash to the Stars mans legs away from play. When the dust settled Elder received a two minute misconduct, Andrews a five plus game and Bostrum a ten minute misconduct. The resulting powerplay quickly became a five on three advantage to the home side when Darren Stattersfield was harshly penalised for tripping and Daniel Palmebjork (38:52) ensured that the third period would be interesting when he reduced the home deficit to one goal.
The final session was still in its infancy when Joe Coulter (41:46) steadied the ship with a well taken goal after good work from Duncan Speirs and Marc Fowley and the Sharks were two goals to the good once more. Five minutes into the session a minor scuffle between Darren Stattersfield and Palmebjork was blown out of proportion when Stars captain Richie Thornton joined the fray and was given a match penalty for third man in. With eleven minutes to go Solway sealed the game and the league title with the move of the game. Connor Henderson collected Daniel Abercrombie’s pass on the right wing and sold two Billingham defenders a perfect bodyswerve that saw the crash into each other with force. The Sharks youngster then had the cool head to draw the netminder before squaring the puck for Stevie Moore to stroke into the empty net. Billingham, to their credit, continued to look for a way back into the match but the door was closed and Solway duly ran out the match victors by fie goals to two.
Man of the Match for the Solway Sharks was presented to Connor Henderson.