The Building Craftsmen (Dumfries) Ltd. Solway Sharks got their pre-season off and running at the Shark Tank on Saturday evening with a hard-fought five-one defeat to former EPL Side the Sheffield Steeldogs.
The opening skirmishes showed little between the sides as neither wanted to give their opponents the upper hand. Gradually though the Sharks passing game started to see the home side in the ascendancy as the visitors were forced onto the back foot. On another night the Sharks might have been a couple of goals up by the mid-way point in the session but a combination of poor finishing and the goal frame denied them an advantage.
The deadlock was broken on in the twelfth minute, unfortunately it was to be a goal for the visitors against the run of play. Ashley Calvert (11:28) found himself with space and time on the left and he threaded a pinpoint pass across the face of the Sharks goal to Adrian Palak who calmly slotted home. From there until the first intermission play was fairly even although the Sharks did have a good spell as the clock was running down and Ross Murray was unlucky to see his shot beat Zimozdra but rebound to safety from the pipes.
The Sharks went looking for an equaliser as the second period got underway but play was fairly even until the middle of the period. With the puck against the back boards Jamie Scott was extremely unlucky to get penalised for diving when clearly he went over Struan Tonnar’s outstretched stick. Such is life and the Sharks took full advantage of their luck when Stevie Moore (30:51 PP) converted from the slow slot after a Marek Charvat shot had been partially blocked.
Almost immediately the Sharks were on another powerplay but this time the result was very different. Liam Charnock picked up a loose puck on the left and sped around the boards before passing back out to the unmarked Adrian Palak (32:51 SH) to put the Steeldogs ahead when his shot hit the crossbar before rebounding into the net of netminder Calum Hepburn’s back. With less than a minute remaining in the period Sheffield took a two goal lead when the lively Liam Charnock (39:01) collected a loose puck in the right-hand face off circle and advance a few steps before slotting home with a neat finish.
In the final period the Sharks tried their best to get back into the game but to be truthful the Steeldogs looked fitter and faster and for the most part controlled the game scoring two more unanswered goals. Ashley Calvert once more proved a thorn in Solway’s side when his pass from defence found Andrew Hirst (41:03) on the left and his shot to make the score four-one was one that Callum Hepburn would certainly like back. The final goal was also a defensive lapse when Calvert (48:04) collected a loose pass on the Solway blue line and capped a fine personal game with a crisp finish that gave the Sharks keeper no chance.
Overall this was a good workout for the Sharks against an excellent young team who will certainly challenge for honours this season. With a second import and up to four other players expected to be added to the squad Solway supporters can certainly expect improvements in both fitness and personnel on the ice in the weeks to come.
Man of the Match for the Sharks was Stevie Moore while Dmitri Zimozdra picked up that honour for the Steeldogs.
Match photographs can be seen by following this link.