Sharks Step Closer To Historic Trophy Haul

After winning the league and playoff championships last season to be Crowned Kings of the North, Solway Sharks made it an historic treble by beating South league Champions Streatham in the National Final, securing a third trophy and their place as the best team in the UK at their level.

Never a group to rest on their laurels, the team led by coaches Martinn Grubb and Jamie Thomson has been busy working their way through a packed league schedule as well as North Cup fixtures.  In the league the team has been almost untouchable, losing one game to title rivals Whitley Warriors and drawing once in Billingham, winning every game in front of their appreciate fans at home.  With trophies in their sights the Sharks made their intention to sweep the board and win league, cup, playoffs and National trophies for a remarkable quadruple.

Their enviable cup run saw them undefeated, and in an unusual Friday-night fixture they faced in-form Billingham Stars in the first leg of the cup final in Dumfries.   Sharks made a determined start to the game, despite Stars young team hitting the ice at pace.  An early Stars penalty gave Sharks an advantage, and their powerplay unit swung into action to seize the opportunity, Peter Gapa slotting the puck behind netminder Tom Brown to open their account at 5:56, assisted by Struan Tonnar and Scott Henderson.  The remainder of the period passed in a flurry of opportunities at both ends, with Brown and Sharks netminder Calum Hepburn back-stopping their respective teams effectively and keeping the score level at 1 – 0.

The second period got off to a fast start, James Moss drawing Stars even after just 16 seconds of play.  Sharks responded swiftly, Captain Struan Tonnar retaking the lead at 20:31, assists coming from Scott Henderson and Gapa. Another powerplay gave Sharks another goal at 26:06, Scott Henderson netting this time, Gapa and Connor Henderson with the helpers.  With Sharks penalty kill unit successfully preventing Stars taking advantage of penalties it was again a Sharks powerplay that further widened the gap, Jonnie McBean scoring from Kell Beattie and Callum Boyd at 29:08 – Sharks 4 Stars 1 at the half-way point of the game.  Connor Henderson made it 5 for the home team at 35:08, Start Kerr and Rick Bentham assisting.  Stars, however, were down but certainly not out, and as they had in the past started to stage a come-back, Moss taking advantage on the powerplay at 38:25 to narrow the gap.  In the dying seconds of the period Shaun Galloway added another to Stars tally, and the period ended with Sharks 5 goals to 3 ahead.

The final period saw Sharks struggle to contain Stars, and a goal from Rolands Gritans after 5 minutes saw the gap narrow to one.  As the clock ticked down Sharks just couldn’t find a way to Stars’ net, their frustration compounded by Stars youngster Finn Bradon equalizing with just 1:20 left in the game.  The final score of 5 – 5 meant the huge crowd was well entertained with plenty of goals, and set the scene for a do-or-die final leg in Billingham the following night.

The Sharks headed down to Teeside with the game poised on a knife edge after the previous nights 5-5 draw. It was the home side who took the early advantage, when Sharks net minder Calum Hepburn spilled a long range shot and Stars Forward, James Moss was the first to pounce from close range at 3.27. Only 3 minutes later the Sharks drew level through a combination of Scott Henderson and Stars defence man Andy Monroe’s shoulder forcing the puck to trickle agonisingly over the line.

Into period 2 and it was the away side piling on the pressure, and at 25.51 Callum Boyd played a pass to Lewis Young whose shot was saved but found Sharks team mate Jonnie McBean who made no mistake from about 6 yards firing high over a stranded Tom Brown in the Stars net. Just over the half way point of the period Stars Forward Chris Sykes found himself goal side of Ross Connolly on the Sharks defence and one on one with Hepburn, and made no mistake under pressure giving Hepburn no chance, and tying the game at 2-2 (7-7 on AGG) at 32.54


By the start of the 3rd period the Sharks already knew they were league champions due to other results in the league matches, and knowing winning the period would win the Sharks the cup.  But it was to be the home side that would take the lead again in the match, with only 1.26 of the 3rd played Jack Emmerson found a gap from behind the goal line and banked the puck off the back of Hepburn in the Sharks net making it 3-2 and advantage Stars. Anyone who has watched the Sharks in recent years should know never to write them off until the final buzzer of the game, and when Hepburn pulled of an amazing double save with 59 seconds to go there was almost a feel of they couldn’t, could they? And they could, with Hepburn off to the bench and a 6th attacking player on the ice, Peter Gapa battled hard in the corner, and managed to find Jonnie McBean in behind the net, McBean found the tape of Sharks defenceman Stuart Kerr, who, with 27 seconds left on the clock fired a sniper of a shot through bodies and found the postage stamp to tie the game and send the cup final to overtime.


With the both sets of fans on the edge of their seats 3 v 3 overtime for 5 minutes passed as quickly as the previous 120 minute of the game, with both teams creating chances at either end but neither were able to break the deadlock and the cup would be decided on penalty shots.


Sharks won the toss and shot first, forward Callum Boyd shooting first for the Sharks, and dispatched low past Brown. Finn Bradon shot first for the Stars and was denied by Hepburn in the Sharks net. Gapa and McBean would be the next 2 for the Sharks and were unable to dispatch, neither were Gritans nor Sykes for the Stars and after 3 shots each it was advantage Sharks 1-0. Richard Bentham shot 4th for the Sharks and dispatched past Brown to double Sharks advantage, and meant, if Michael Elder failed to score for the Stars it would mean cup and league success in the same night.  It was time for Calum Hepburn to stand tall once again for the Sharks, saving Elders shot and sealing the deal for the now crowed NIHL north League and Cup double champions.


Head coach Martin Grubb commented, “What an amazing achievement to win not only the cup but the league title on the same night. The majority had us beat with 30 seconds to go but this team has no quit in it and is full of character and found a way to not only equalise but go on and win, and the players deserve all the credit for that. I don’t think we were at our fluent best over the 2 games but credit to Billingham as they didn’t allow us to be, and they played great all weekend. We have always said that our dressing room is full of players who know how to win and our leaders really stepped up and showed that desire to find a way to win. I was also pleased we were able to come home and win in style on Sunday in front of our incredible supporters as they really helped us get over the line this weekend and it was amazing to share it with them. We have done double but this team won’t stop there and is now fully focused on winning the other 2 trophies available and a grand slam.”

Sharks are back in action on Saturday night with a 7pm face off at Dumfries Ice bowl.  After the game there will be an official presentation of the league trophy, and the North Cup will also be on show.  There will be a free “Skate with the Sharks” after the presentation, with the chance for all fans to get pictures and autographs with the players.


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