Solway Sharks Ladies travelled south to Planet Ice in Coventry on Saturday to take on the Coventry Phoenix in Northern Cup action. With a draw and two narrow defeats against the Phoenix last season, a win was definitely the focus of the day for the Scotland’s only female ice hockey team.
Coventry Phoenix 1- 3 Solway Sharks Ladies
Sharks goals: Craig (3, 46) Wallace (31) assists: Wallace, Muir
The Sharks took control early, dominating the opening half of the first period. With just 2:40 on the clock, team Captain Karen Craig (sponsored by Samuel McMillan) found herself well placed to redirect a Ruth Wallace slap shot after good build up play from Amanda McWilliams (www.saltire.co.uk) and Mo Muir (Hazel Mair Therapies)
The latter part of the period became an open end to end affair with McWilliams again coming close for the Sharks whilst Preston Gennoe and Hayley Laverick were denied emphatically by Sharks’ netminder Elise Marie Valmarsdottir Valjaots, the Icelandic International ensuring the period ended one nil in the visiting side’s favour.
The second period saw Phoenix try and build some momentum, however, the spritely Sharks forecheck was denying the Coventry ladies time or space to make educated plays and saw the Dumfries side turn the puck over in their favour time after time. Midway through the period, a Muir face off win in the offensive zone was played back to Ruth Wallace (sponsored in memory of George Wallace) on the blue line who smashed home a slap shot that initially looked well saved by Tamara Donoghue in the Phoenix goal, however, the puck squirmed its way through and into the net to double the Sharks’ lead. The remaining half of the second period was again drawn into an end to end effort with Valjaots making a notable treble save to ensure her goal remained intact going into the final period with a well earned two nil lead.
The final period was as finely balanced as could be hoped for if any of the spectators in the arena were of a neutral persuasion but at 45:24 the Solway ladies’ tenacious closing down of the Phoenix defence in their own end paid dividends again. Craig dispossessed the Phoenix defender in the right hand corner before stepping in to fire a hopeful effort along the goal line and into the net off Donoghue’s skate for her second marker.
The tireless Beth Milne, who was this week named in the Great Britain Woman’s University team that will travel to Kazakhstan in January, skated hard with her linemates Rachel Eadie (A&E Controls Ltd) and Victoria Luke (The Kellwood Group) to ensure minimal attacks made their way into the Sharks end whilst player of the game Rebecca Nicol (HItachi Construction Machinery) Michelle Howie (Cold Blooded Sports) and Naomi Fisher (Rejuvenation Nail & Beauty Salon) stoically kept any attacks in the safety of the wide areas and along with the aforementioned Wallace sent countless attacking breakout passes off down the wings in response. The Sharks third line of Mandy Dinning (Sound Travels) Karina McLean, Lauren Rush and the debuting Emily Rose (Reiver Energy) played their part in nullifying the Phoenix.
The home side did manage a late consolation goal through Rosanne Adey with less than five minutes left but the final minutes were seen out with disciplined ease by the maturing Sharks who secured the win in their first away game of the season. Following this victory, and results elsewhere, the Dumfries team now sit top of their Northern Cup Division Table.
Solway Sharks Ladies are next in action at home, Dumfries Ice Bowl, on Saturday December 3rd at 4pm, against League Champions Billingham Wildcats. The game is sponsored by Bithell Asset Finance and entry is by donation.