Building Craftsmen Dumfries-sponsored Solway Sharks play their latest “must win” games this weekend as the NIHL regular season enters its final month with the race to finish in the top four likely to go down to the wire.

Last Saturday the Sharks held out in a 7-5 home win over third-placed Solihull Barons to move to within two points of the playoff places with games in hand on those teams above them.

Sheffield Spartans are the visitors to the Ice Bowl this Saturday night (7pm faceoff) before the Sharks travel to Tyneside to take on Whitley Warriors who are currently second in the NIHL standings.

The game against Solihull saw the visitors take the lead after just 71 seconds but the Sharks replied in style. First Marc Fowley was on hand to finish a move on the powerplay at 3.37, before Stevie Adams quick shot from the left circle caught the goalie by surprise for the go-ahead goal at 7.02.

It got better before the first interval as defenceman James Wallace chipped in from close range (12.59) to make it 3-1 at the break.

Martin Cingel’s pinpoint shot early in the second session (21.10) opened up a 4-1 lead for the Sharks but that was the first of four goals in the period shared between the sides. Thomas Soar reduced the arrears for Barons, before Sharks captain Struan Tonnar bagged his side’s fifth goal at 34.15. Joe Henry netted a third goal for Solihull just before the send of the second period to make it a 5-3 game with twenty minutes to play.

James Wallace’s second of the night stretched the lead back to three goals at 44.37 but Solihull responded almost immediately (45.16) through Andrew Whitehouse. Edward Eaton’s goal six minutes from time made it just one goal deficit and a nervous finish for players and fans in the Ice Bowl.

Nerves were settled finally at 58.50 with Steven Moore’s insurance marker putting the seal on a 7-5 win where the sides combined for 100 shots on goal (55-45 for Solway).

Sharks bench coach Scott McMeeken said after the game: “It was not pretty to watch from a coach’s point of view – it was far too open but the important thing was that we got the two points.

“Solihull are a very talented team offensively and put us under real pressure at points when we couldn’t kill the game off but we showed character to dig in and keep the lead that we built up in the first period. James Wallace has been solid for us since coming back from Edinburgh and even stepped up with two goals to continue our scoring streak from defencemen in the last few games.

“We will need to continue taking our scoring chances as we push to make the playoffs.

“We are proud of the fact that we give young players a chance to play at this level and it was great to see Daniel Abercrombie pick up his first senior point last weekend. Scott Henderson also stepped in and did a good job when called upon. Add that to the performances of Duncan Speirs, Stuart Kerr and Kyle Johnston this year and it shows there is a bright future for these young players if they keep working hard.”

BCD Solway Sharks host Sheffield Spartans on Saturday 5 March at Dumfries Ice Bowl – face off is 7pm, doors open 6pm and tickets are on sale from Ice Bowl reception on the night. Adults tickets are £8, concessions £5 and a family pass (2+3) is £16.

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