Despite a promising opening period the BCD Solway Sharks fell to a disappointing seven-five road defeat to the Billingham Stars on Saturday night which allowed the chasing teams to gain ground in the quest for end of season play-off positions.
After a lively start to the game the home side took the lead in the sixth minute when Richie Thornton and Jack Davies combined to allow Chris Sykes (05:53) to expertly net the first goal of his hat-trick. Undaunted the Sharks were quick to reply and in a little over two minutes they were level when Stevie Moore set up Duncan Speirs (08:16) to fire home. As the period drew towards its conclusion the Sharks were on their second powerplay of the game when a Jordan Buesa pass allowed Marek Charvat (18:04 PP) to power home the drive that gave them their first lead of the night.
The second period began with play swinging quickly from end to end as both sides tried to exert their dominance on the game and the first breakthrough came the way of the Stars when James Moss and Deniss Baskatovs created the opportunity for Jack Emerson (22:04) to level the scores. Under a minute later Solway regained their lead this time this time it was Ross Murray and Connor Henderson who were to be the providers for Struan Tonnar (22:56) to find the net.
Just after the midway point in the game Duncan Speirs (31:00) pounced on a Billingham mistake to fire the Sharks into a four-two lead but unfortunately that was as good as it was going to get on the day. With four minutes remaining in the period the home support were on their feet cheering when a Callum Davies pass allowed Ben Davison (35:48) to reduce the deficit to one.
The home side took to the ice in determined fashion for the final period which constantly saw play swing from end to end with neither side able to dominate for long. Unfortunately for Solway it was the Stars who had brought their shooting sticks as the ran in three unanswered goals. Firstly James Moss (43:51) levelled the scores from a Deniss Baskatovs pass before Chris Sykes (53:19) gave them their second lead of the night with assists on the play going to Ethan Hehir and the ever dangerous Baskatovs. With the Sharks desperately looking for an equaliser as the seconds ticked away Baskatovs (57:18) helped himself to a well deserved goal when he converted after good work from James Moss and Alex Preston.
As soon as the Sharks were in possession from the restart they pulled netminder Hepburn in favour of a sixth skater but when possession was lost quick passing between Baskatovs and Moss set up Chris Sykes (59:47 ENG) to joyfully fire his hat trick goal into the empty Sharks net. From the restart the Sharks gained possession and it took just eleven seconds for Connor Henderson and Ross Murray to set up Scott Henderson (59:58) to score what was to be no more than a consolation goal. With the shot count favouring Solway by fifty-nine shots to forty it would appear that, on the night, their problem was both failing to convert the chances that came their way and stopping their opponents from capitalising on their own.
The man of the match for the Sharks was presented to Duncan Speirs while Callum Davies picked up the award for the home team.
Match highlights courtesy of Billingham Stars TV
Post match interview with Martin Grubb courtesy of Billingham Stars TV