The BCD Solway Sharks travelled down to Blackburn on Sunday aware that a win would guarantee them top spot in the round-robin group stage of the NIHL National Cup and a quarter-final fixture with the runners-up from Group B. With all teams struggling for ice time it may yet prove to be a semi-final spot if the rules are changed and it is decided that only group winners progress to the next stage.
Knowing how dangerous the Hawks are on home ice Solway came out with all guns blazing and had already created a couple of chances before Iain Bowie (01:32) was on hand to net from the slot after a fine solo skate and shot from Jordan Buesa. Blackburn levelled the scores when Jozef Istocy (03:41) slotted home the rebound from the edge of the crease after Calum Hepburn could only parry a speculative shot from the blueline by Luke Boothroyd.
The Sharks went straight back onto the offensive and another strong skate and pass from Jordan Buesa (04:33)saw him arrive into the slot to score from Iain Bowie’s clever pass. Two became three when Duncan Speirs (07:38) broke down the left wing and saw his shot deflected past the Blackburn keeper from a defenders stick. This was to be the high point of the period for Solway as the home side bounced back to score three unanswered goals before the first interval arrived courtesy of Aaron Davies (10:37), Richard Bentham (11:19) and Kieran Brown 914:07) to lead four-three.
After a cagy start to the second period the Hawks extended their lead to two when Keiran Brown (28:12) found the net but Solway responded well and hit back when Vaclan Kolarik and Ross Murray set up Iain Bowie (31:40 PP) to flick the puck home at the second attempt on a powerplay. Not content with this the Sharks continued to press and were soon rewarded when Stevie Moore (33:22) rounded of a flowing attack involving Struan Tonnar and James Hutchinson to score and level the scores at five. Within seconds fortune smiled once more as Solway took the lead when a shot from Hutchinson on the right wing was redirected past the Blackburn keeper by Struan Tonnar (33:56) from close range.
The Hawks, roared on by the home crowd, were desperate to level the scores and got their wish when Kieran Brown (43:16) completed his hat-trick giving the home side belief that victory was on the cards but Solway fought back and made Blackburn pay for their indiscipline when Jordan Buesa (50:28 PP) scored at the back post after Trapans could only parry Vaclav Kolarik’s strong shot. It was looking like further misdemeanours would allow the Sharks to run down the clock safely until they took a penalty of their own with two minutes to go. The Hawks puled their netminder to give themselves a six on four skater advantage but lost the puck to Jordan Buesa on the Sharks right, who, with a hat-trick looming, unselfishly passed inside for Duncan Speirs (59:09 EN/PP) to fire into the empty net.
The Man of the Match Awards were presented to Jordan Buesa for the Sharks and to Jozef Istocy for the Hawks.
See all the Sharks goals from this match courtesy of Sharks GoPro