Last Saturday the BCD Solway Sharks welcomed the table-topping Telford Tigers to the Shark Tank in what promised to be a thrilling game of ice hockey but, despite fighting all the way, the home side eventually slipped to a three nil-defeat.
For the opening eight minutes of the game there was little to choose between the two teams and for the most part they tended to cancel each other out with little action to trouble either netminder. Suddenly a Kyle Horne pass from defense released Iain Bowie on the left wing and a neat side-step inside his marker presented a shooting opportunity. Unfortunately on this occasion the puck beat both the Telford netminder and the far post.
This seemed to open up the game and the Sharks missed a glorious opportunity to open the scoring when the visitors failed to clear their lines in a goalmouth scramble. However, they did have an excellent netminder in Denis Bell who made a superb glove save and two fine pad blocks to deny Ross Murray and Iain Bowie before the puck could be cleared.
Telford took this as their cue to move up a gear and were soon rewarded when a slick move up the left wing involving Dale White and Matthew Price who created the opportunity for Jason Silverthorn (12:00) to net with a delightful wrist shot from the slot. Minutes later Solway had the better of another goalmouth scramble in front of the Telford net which saw Bell once more the hero when he made another tremendous glove save, this time from the stick of Joe Coulter.
With two minutes remaining in the period Joe Miller found himself in open space in front of the Solway goal and was about to turn away to celebrate a goal when Solway netminder Calum Hepburn produced some magic of his own as he dived to deflect the Telford forwards’ shot past his goal frame. The Sharks may have had one eye on the dressing-room door at this point and the chance to regroup. If this was so, then it was bad a mistake. With less than a minute to go in the period Kim Miettinen and Warren Tait exchanged passes before finding Jack Watkins (19:09) free on the left and he duly doubled the Tigers advantage with a shot from the face-off circle.
The second period saw the game settle into a pattern that entailed the Sharks attacking with caution whenever the opportunity arose, while they attempted to keep the back door firmly closed. For their part the visitors were quite content to soak up the Solway pressure in the knowledge that they had the ability to break at speed whenever the chance came their way. Second period shots favored the home side thirteen-seven but in all honesty there was very little to seriously trouble either netminder and the session ended with neither team able to trouble the scorers further.
It would be reasonable to assume that Solway might just have found a system to trouble the visitors if only they could play the same again for another twenty minutes but somehow find a cutting edge to their game. Unfortunately that thought was to be quickly dashed. Telford won the puck from the opening face-off and Corey Goodison immediately sent Joe Miller up the left wing. Even a delayed penalty on Stevie Moore for hooking failed to stop the Telford man and when his shot was blocked in front of goal Jason Silverthorn (40:22) was on hand to slot the rebound home.
If a two goal deficit was a big hill to climb against the title favorites then three-nil was a mountain. To their credit Solway never gave up the fight but the Tigers had the game in their pocket and they knew it. Ross Murray in particular was always prepared to take the fight to the visitors but whenever the home side did create a shooting opportunity they found netminder Denis Bell in excellent form. Despite a couple of late scares Bell was more than capable of completing a well deserved shut-out as his team ran out worthy victors.
The Man of the Match Awards were presented to Denis Bell for the Tigers and to Marek Charvat for the Sharks.