The BCD Solway Sharks took another step towards securing fourth place in the NIHL North 1 with what turned out to be a comprehensive seven-three victory over the Billingham Stars at the Shark Tank on Saturday evening.
The outlook did not seem to promising for the home side early on as they struggled to find their rhythm which allowed the visitors score three times. With less than three minutes on the clock Ethan Hehir and Jack Davies set up Michael Bowman (02:45) to open the scoring from close range. The Sharks tried to hit back but their play was disjointed and lacking conviction and it was no great surprise when Billingham added two more goals in quick succession. Firstly Jack Davies (15:29 PP) found the net with a well-worked powerplay goal before Alex Preston (16:41) made the score three-nil after good work from Denniss Baskatovs and Ross Hanlon. Finally Solway started to pass the puck like we know they can and pressure began to mount on the Stars defence. As the period drew towards its close this pressure induced an error that allowed Iain Bowie (19:46) to show his class with a neat shot to get the Sharks onto the scoreboard.
Coach Grubb no doubt read his charges the riot act during the first interval and it seemed to do the trick as they returned to the ice a much changed team. Instead of individual effort the passing and movement was back which allowed them to gradually take control of the game to the extent that Calum Hepburn, who replaced Kyle Johnston in the Solway goal at the interval, would face just seven shots on goal for the remainder of the game.
Solway’s second goal came courtesy of Scott Henderson (22:06) who neatly slotted home the rebound after James Flavell could only block Struan Tonnar’s shot with his pads. Tonnar was to be the next Shark on the scoresheet just after the midway point in the match when he levelled the scores at three from close range after collecting Jordan Buesa’s pinpoint pass. With the scent of blood in their nostrils the Sharks were looking for more and soon an Iain Bowie pass allowed Marek Charvat (37:34) to close in on goal and score with a powerful shot from the slot.
More of the same in the final period was what the Solway supporters wanted and more of the same is what they got. Iain Bowie (42:25 pictured) soon added his second and the Sharks fifth goal of the night when he collected a Scott Henderson pass and found the net with a delightful chip over the netminders’ glove from the low slot. The scores were to be rounded off by two goals that the Billingham netminder would definitely want back as he was beaten at his near post on both occasions. Firstly Iain Bowie and Scott Henderson combined to set up Connor Henderson (45:27) to score with a low drive from the right-hand face-off circle then Scott Cooper (49:35) forced the puck home from close range after good work from Duncan Speirs and Stevie Moore.
Overall the scoreline didn’t flatter the home side. While Billingham started out well they faded badly under Sharks pressure once they found their stride and both sides produced an entertaining game for the crowd to watch.
The Man of the Match Awards were presented to Callum Davies for the Stars and to Marek Charvat for the Sharks.
GoPro coverage of all seven goals from Saturday’s game against Billingham
Full match video courtesy of Duncan Speirs Snr. Thank you Duncan.
Post match interview with Sharks head coach Martin Grubb
Post match interview with Sharks’ Marek Charvat