The Solway Sharks Juniors under 14s have had a busy couple of weekends, with back-to-back away fixtures.
First it was off to North Ayrshire, the team expecting a hard game after being defeated 2-1 in a Scottish Cup tie when the teams last met. An extremely short-benched Solway team, with only the required 10 skaters, got off to a great start, defending well, making organised attacks, and playing solid hockey, which was rewarded shortly before the period break when captain Liam Stenton got on the end of a Harris Henderson pass to slot the puck into the back of the net, much to the delight of the travelling Solway support.
North Ayr replied shortly after the break, scoring past an on-form Joshua Leuvennink to make the score even. Solway fired their way back into the lead 2 minutes later, Stenton passing the puck to Scott Rae, who passed to Matthew Watters who, on his way out of the penalty box, collected the puck and delivered it into the net to score his first goal. The team, and the crowd, were delighted again. By now Solway legs, putting in almost double the number of shifts the opposition were doing, began to tire, and N Ayr were quick to capitalise, using their superior numbers and fresh legs to take over, and fired in a couple of quick goals to finish to period 3-2 ahead of Solway.
After a quick catch of the breath play resumed again, and again N Ayr dominated, using their extra energy to get past the hard-working defence, and harder-working Leuvennink in the Solway net, rattling another 4 goals in quick succession. There was a heart-stopping moment when N A yr were awarded penalty shot, but Leuvennink stood firm and unruffled in net, and pulled of a blinding save that had the crowd on their feet. A lovely unassisted goal by Watters, netting his second ever, provided consolation for the team shortly before the end, and the game finished 7-3 to N Ayr. Josh Leuvennink was justly named man of the match.
Coach Martyn Mitchell summed up after the game, “I was concerned going into the game with the game sheet showing them having 21 players to our 11, but I was surprised at how well our small team pulled together and worked for the whole game. We had them worried, and had it not been for tired legs at the end it could have been closer. I was impressed with every player on the ice – Matty stepping up and not only scoring his first ever goal but his second as well, then Josh in nets was solid as ever, pulling off a penalty shot save. It showed how much the guys can do when short benched.”
The next week the team hit the road again, this time off to Edinburgh to take on the might of league-leaders Murrayfield.
Having been beaten 31 to nil by Murrayfield at the beginning of the season in October, the team knew they were in for a tough test, and they were proved right. The whole team played tight defensive hockey, and with Joshua Leuvennink once again solid in nets the first period saw Murrayfield come out 2-0 ahead. This was not what Murrayfield expected, and their coaching staff were clearly rattled. Solway again stood firm in the second, defending like mad and relying on Josh to pull off save after save, but they really had no reply to Murrayfield’s superior strength, and the period ended with Murrayfield 6-0 ahead – still far short of the score they had expected.
After the final break Murrayfield came out strong, and scored 2 goals in the first minute to stretch their lead to 8, before Liam Stenton scored Solway’s only goal of the game with a fine unassisted effort. Another 3 before the whistle saw Murrayfield finish the game 11-1 victors, with the Solway team tired but justifiably proud of themselves. Ben True was man of the match.
Coach Martyn Mitchell commented, “After a 31-0 home defeat in the middle of holiday time for some of the team we knew the game wasn’t going be easy. The boys were up for it, and have vastly improved in the weeks since. We started strong and had them rattled, but just couldn’t find the finishing touch. Their coach dropped two lines and ran with pretty much two Scotland lines against us. They broke us down and snuck a few goals; Josh was great but can’t save them all. We have another hard game coming up this weekend against Fife, who we also faced last at holiday time, so we’ll be ready for them.”
Solway welcome Kirkcaldy to Dumfries Ice Bowl on Sunday at 10am, come along and show your support.

Attached photo shows Solway U14s team.

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