The BCD Solway Sharks made the long journey down the M6 to Solihull on Sunday but for whatever reason they failed to perform to their usual standards and fell to a five-three defeat against a workmanlike Barons team.
The writing was on the wall from the opening puck drop as Solihull collected possession and surged towards the Solway goal and Calum Hepburn had to make several early blocks to keep the home forwards at bay. He could however do little to stop the home side from opening the scoring in the fifth minute when the ever-dangerous Luke Brittle won a face-off on the left and Marcus Maynard (0:38) powered a slapshot through traffic that found the roof of the net. Things went from bad to worse for the Sharks when a Joe Coulter trip gave the Barons a powerplay which allowed Niklas Ottosson to pass back out from the back boards to the unmarked Luke Brittle (05:54 PP) who made no mistake from the slot.
Solway did regroup and brought themselves back into the match when a neat skate up centre-ice and drop pass from Jordan Buesa found Scott Henderson backing up and he fired home neatly from the slot. The Sharks did begin to play more like their normal selves in the latter half of the period but were unable to convert any of the chances that came their way and the session ended with the home side leading by two goals to one.
For much of the second period there was little to choose from between the two teams. Solihull probably had a slightly greater share of possession and territory but neither team was able to create and many clear chanced until the session entered its final four minutes. With the Sharks on a powerplay they attacked the home goal until an unfortunate slip allowed Thomas Soar (36:41 SH) to collect the loose puck and charge through on goal before firing his shot into the roof of the Solway goal for a well-taken short-handed goal. With the Sharks still reeling from this shock Solihull struck for a second time in ninety-seconds when Niklas Ottosson (38:25) joyfully converted a neat Luke Brittle pass to make the score-line at the second interval four-one to the Barons.
If they were to salvage anything from this fixture the Sharks knew they had to strike early in the third period and strike they did. With just over two minutes of the final period played strong play from Struan Tonnar created the chance for Ross Murray (42:03) to find the net and with the home side reeling Marek Charvat (42:46) almost immediately fired a slap shot from left point into the roof of the Solihull goal. The deficit was now reduced to one and a comeback for the Sharks seemed very much on the cards but, to their credit, the home side stood strong, repelled the Solway attacks and gradually fought their way back into the game. As the game drew towards its conclusion play became scrappy and minor niggles seemed to break out all over the ice. Then with just over two minutes remaining the home side sealed their win when Thomas Soar (57:49) capitalised on another Solway defensive lapse to fire home an unassisted goal to make the final score five-three.
Results elsewhere over the weekend have ensured that the Sharks and the Barons will meet again in a two-legged tie in first round of the end of season play-off’s. If the Sharks want to progress to the next stage of the competition they will have to improve markedly on this performance.
The Man of the Match Award for the Sharks was presented to Jordan Buesa and to Thomas Soar for the Barons.