On Sunday the BCD Solway Sharks took what on this occasion turned out to be an arduous journey through the snow to Ice Sheffield for a fixture that counted both as an NIHL North 1 (Moralee) league match and the second leg of their NIHL National cup quarter-final. Unfortunately for Solway the ended up on the wrong side of a four-two score line despite a spirited and courageous effort.
From the opening puck drop the Sharks showed no sign of bus legs and took the game to the home side hitting the goal frame twice in the first two minutes. Both sides had opportunities to open the scoring on powerplays, firstly Iain Bowie on a delay of game and then Thomas Relf for tripping, but on each occasion the respective defences stood firm.
The deadlock was broken by the Steeldogs in the thirteenth minute when Milan Kolena (12:19) converted clinically from an Ashley Calvert pass but if the home support though that this would signal a goal rush they were in for a surprise. With the Sheffield defence in control of the puck in their own defensive zone they made the mistake of playing one pass too many and Duncan Speirs (15:39) quickly nipped in to rob the pack and slip his pass beyond the reach of the home netminder.
As the second period Sheffield once more turned up the heat and were soon on another powerplay with Calum Hepburn showing top form to block an attempted wrap-around from Adrain Palak before blocking again from Ben Morgan. With the Sharks back to full strength they quickly showed their own attacking intent with Duncan Speirs bringing out a fine save from Dmitri Zimozdra before Calum Hepburn again came to the fore with a point blank save from Ashley Calvert. While both teams continued to attack the opposition when in possession of the puck there was to be no further scoring and the second intermission arrived with the scores tied at one.
As the teams returned to the ice there seemed to be a renewed air of confidence about the Sharks and within three minutes they took the lead for the first time when Duncan Speirs (42:47) continued his fine run of form when he powered in a first time shot from long range. For much of the final period Solway played to a steady defensive game plan which kept Sheffield at bay and for the most part saw them reduced to shooting from distance.
However, a late Steeldogs powerplay saw Ben Morgan (56:58 PP) convert Ashley Calvert’s pass to level the scores and before Solway could regroup the home side struck again as Jamie Spurr (58:84) stroked home what would prove to be the winner with assists going to Milan Kolina and Ben Morgan. With thirty seconds left Coach Grubb called a time out and pulled the netminder in favour of a sixth skater but when possession was lost Jamie Spurr (59:41) was on hand to score an empty net goal to give a final score line of Steeldogs four Sharks two which slightly flattered the home side.
The Man of the Match Award was presented to Duncan Speirs for the Sharks and to Ben Morgan for the Steeldogs.