The BCD Solway Sharks suffered a heart-breaker at the Shark Tank on Saturday evening when they took the league leading Sheffield Steeldogs all the way to sudden-death overtime before ultimately losing by three goals to two.
From the opening puck drop it was obvious that the Sharks had been instructed to take the game to their opponents and to shoot on sight which brought an instant reward for their efforts. With just forty-six seconds on the clock a Sheffield defender lost possession deep in his own defensive area and Duncan Speirs (00:46) was on hand to side-step the d-man and fire a crisp wrist shot past Dmitri Zimozdra to open the scoring.
Solway continued to press and for the most part of the opening twelve minutes the visitors were confined to hitting the home side on the break. At the back netminder Zimozdra was in fine form but had to look sharp to make a good glove save from Iain Bowie while Connor Henderson was unlucky to see his shot rebound from the outside of the goal frame. However, Sheffield showed just how lethal they can be when they levelled the scores on the fourteen minute mark with Adrian Palak (13:59) finding the net from close range after good work on the back boards from Charnock and Brownley.
In the dying seconds of the opening session Solway almost broke the deadlock when Iain Bowie worked hard to fight his way around behind the Steeldogs net and feed the puck back out to Duncan Speirs in the high slot. The Dumfries forward picked his spot, top shelf right, unfortunately that was to Zimozdra’s glove hand and the Sheffield keeper was able to hold onto the puck and avert the danger.
The second period opened with play far more evenly divided with chances at a minimum. In the twenty-sixth minute, what looked like a high stick from Scott Henderson on a Sheffield defender was adjudged to be a check to the head by referee Wells and the young Shark was given a five plus game for the challenge. With a man advantage for five minutes the visitors understandably laid siege to the Solway goal and only a display of stout and intelligent defending and equally good netminding from Calum Hepburn kept them at bay. That being said, the home side did create two fairly good chances on breakaways from Iain Bowie and Duncan Speirs but neither could find the finish to seriously trouble Zimozdra.
Not long after the powerplay ended Sheffield’s pressure finally paid off when Bell and Charnock combined to set up Cameron Brownley (31:14) to score with a powerful shot through traffic from the blueline. Stung by this the Sharks went straight back onto the offensive and a pass by Marek Charvat from defence found Duncan Speirs on the right wing. As the Solway forward moved in towards goal he knew that the angle was against him and that the Sheffield keeper had his near post well guarded. Instead of shooting Speirs laid the perfect pass into the low slow for Iain Bowie (32:53 pictured) to pounce on and fire the equalising goal into the Steeldogs net.
The final period was a cagy affair with neither team able to dominate the other for any length of time and both concerned in case they should make the mistake that would cost them the game. Overall the Steeldogs shaded possession and territory in this session and this was reflected in them out shooting the home side fourteen to ten. Late in the game it looked like Solway might just steal both points when Iain Bowie and Joe Coulter worked hard to create shooting opportunity for Duncan Speirs but unfortunately the glove of Zimozdra once more saved the day for Sheffield.
With the score tied at two after sixty minutes the game moved into three-on-three sudden-death overtime. With so much open space on the ice it is imperative to keep possession of the puck when you have it and to defend your goal with tenacity when you don’t. Solway won possession but unfortunately Duncan Speirs got pinned on the back boards as he tried to create an opening for his team mates. This allowed the Steeldogs to break at speed up centre ice with Morgan and Spurr exchanging passes before Milan Kolena (60:43) fired home the winning goal. Over the course of the game the Sharks certainly deserved their point and on another day might easily have claimed both. Unfortunately this was not to be that day.
Man of the Match for the Sharks was presented to Struan Tonnar while Cameron Brownley picked up that honour for the Steeldogs.
A gallery of photographs from this match can be found by following this link.