Solway Sharks were crowned League Champions at the weekend, despite not touching the ice.
The Dumfries side, sponsored by Building Craftsmen, moved into an unassailable position at the top of the National Ice Hockey League North 1 Division on Sunday when closest rivals Whitley Warriors suffered a defeat at the hands of the Nottingham Lions, meaning Warriors cannot accumulate enough points to catch the Sharks, who had a free weekend, in the remaining fixtures.
Sharks have been beaten in league competition only twice this season, once by Solihull Barons, and one overtime loss to Nottingham Lions, who unwittingly handed Sharks the trophy on Sunday.
Sharks have 4 league games left, but their position at the top of the table means they have already qualified for National Finals weekend in Coventry on 1 May, where they will face Streatham who have secured the South 1 Championship, in a bid to be crowned National Champions. Sharks will also face home and away games against whoever finishes 8th in their league in a bid to secure a place at the Playoff Weekend in Leeds on 23 April, where they would compete for the Playoff Trophy.
First up is a game against Sheffield Scimitars at Dumfries Ice Bowl on Saturday, where the team will be presented with the league trophy at the end of the game.
Reflecting on the team’s league success Head Coach Martin Grubb said, “We are all obviously delighted to have won the league and it’s a testament to the players hard work throughout the season and the support from everyone at the club. While it was great to get the title over the line it was a little bit of an anticlimax on Sunday as we really wanted to win it on the ice in front of our supporters. As a coach you feel huge pride when seeing your players celebrate together at the final buzzer and seeing the joy that brings them as a group, but we are certainly not complaining about becoming champions in this way. The team were desperate to prove we were the best and most consistent team in the league. The whole club has worked hard after returning to the sport and the support the players have had from the staff, board, volunteers and fans has helped them make sure they get over the line to finish in top spot. The players have been fantastic all season, but they also know this is just the start as we want to win the remaining competitions as well, especially given the opportunity we have to play in a National Championship game. We thank everyone for their well wishes and would love as many people as possible to be at the Ice Bowl this Saturday to share the celebrations with us as the players will aim to put on a show against Sheffield before collecting the league trophy.”
Sharks take on Sheffield Scimitars on Saturday night at 7pm, with the League Trophy presentation taking place after the game.