Last Saturday the BCD Solway Sharks welcomed old rivals the Blackburn Hawks to the Shark Tank in what turned out to be a thrilling Division 1 North encounter with the home side eventually prevailing by the odd goal in thirteen to record a seven-six victory.
From the very beginning it became obvious that this was not going to be a game for defensive purists. From the opening puck drop the Sharks went straight into attack mode and, still smarting from their cup defeat two weeks earlier in Blackburn, took the game to their opponents. Thirty seconds into the game a Marek Charvat pass sent Daniel Abercrombie down the left wing and when the Hawks netminder could only palm his powerful shot into the air Struan Tonnar (00:33 pictured) was on hand to prod the rebound into the Blackburn goal.
The home side clearly weren’t satisfied with this superb opening and continued to attack and within a minute found themselves two goals to the good. This time it was a Vaclav Kolarik pass that sent Ross Murray down the left and, as he crossed the Blackburn blueline, he looked up and picked out a perfectly timed pass to the unmarked Iain Bowie (01:28) who slotted home goal number two from the slot.
The game then settled into a close, hard-fought encounter until the visitors eventually hit back with two quick-fire goals of their own through James Neil (16:08) and James Riddoch (16:55) to level the scores at two.
Solway were straight back on the front foot and looked like they might take an advantage into the first break when Daniel Abercrombie broke through the middle but stumbled as he was about to shoot. The Loose puck was picked up by Vaclav Kolarik who fed it forward to Stevie Moore who, with no shooting lane of his own, chose to pass back inside to Abercrombie (18:48) who expertly dispatched the puck into the Hawks net. However, Blackburn were not to be counted out and responded quickly to level the scores at three when James Riddoch (19:33) added his second counter of the game.
The Hawks took their first lead of the game when Steve Duncombe (24:12) netted soon after the re-start only for Solway to fight their way back into the game and level the scores once more just after the mid-way point in the game. This time an extend spell of Solway pressure saw a Connor Henderson shot blocked by netminder Ashton only for the rebound to fall to Scott Henderson (31:54) who immediately fired a shot over the keeper’s right-hand shoulder and into the roof of the net. The last laugh of the second period, however, was to go to the visitors when James Royds (38:25) found himself in the right place at the right time to give the Hawks a five-four lead.
During the second interval a delivery van from a well known electrical retailer was seen to arrive at the side door and deposit a pallet-load of hair-dryers “F.A.O. Grubb”. This seemed top do the trick – or maybe it was the astute defensive advice from the injured James Hutchinson.
At the end of the day it was to be a run of four goals in a little under four minutes that was to decide the game. Desperate to level the scores the Sharks went on the offensive straight away but found it difficult to break down the well-organised Blackburn defence while at the other end of the ice Calum Hepburn had to make a couple of excellent saves to keep his side in the game.
With eight minutes gone in the final session a speculative Kyle Horne shot from the blueline was blocked in front of goal only for the rebound to fall kindly for Stevie Moore (48:13) to stab home from the low slot. Ninety seconds later a defensive error presented Iain Bowie (49:42) with the opportunity to capitalise and give the Sharks the lead once more when he fired home from the slot only for ex-Shark Richard Bentham (50:54) to tie the scores at six a minute later.
The final and decisive strike was to come sixty-four seconds later. The Hawks may have thought that the danger was past when netminder Stuart Ashton was able to block a Stevie Moore shot out towards the left-hand boards. However, goal machine Iain Bowie (51:58) was the man to pick up the loose puck and he netted from an acute angle with a strike that was worthy of winning any game.
For the remainder of the match the visitors battled hard to get back on level terms but the Solway defence, so fragile earlier in the game, found their form and kept the visitors at bay to successfully run down the clock and win the day.
Man of the Match for the Hawks was presented to Lewis Baldwin while Daniel Abercrombie picked up that honour for the Sharks.
A gallery of photographs from this fixture can be found by following this link.