The Dumfries Building Craftsmen Solway Sharks headed off to Dundee on Saturday night, in a break from their usual Saturday home game routine. A still-depleted Sharks team travelled to face the on-form Comets in the NIHL cup.
The first period saw play divided evenly between the teams to begin with, before Dundee piled on the pressure as the half-way point of the period approached. At 12:58 Comets opened the scoring, Ben Brown and Jonny McBean combining to feed John Dolan who was in space at the back door, and knocked the puck past Calum Hepburn. Sharks responded by taking the game to Comets, and at 15:04 a powerplay opportunity worked to their advantage, Lewis Houston winning a face off in Sharks end before taking off down the length of the rink to the Dundee goal, passing to Callum Boyd coming in at speed, who knocked the puck past Toni Tammi to draw even. With momentum in their favour Sharks were quick to add another, Peter Gapa feeding Scott Henderson in Sharks’ end, who took off to net before laying the puck off to Struan Tonnar, who slid it over the line under the pad of Tammi at 17:34. The end of the first saw the score at Comets 1 Sharks 2.
The second period saw plenty of end-to-end action, with both Hepburn and Tammi absorbing pressure and back-stopping their respective teams efficiently. The Sharks successfully killed off a few Comets powerplay opportunities, but there were no further goals and the 1-2 scoreline remained until the end of the second.
Sharks made a determined start to the final stanza, and after 5 minutes Gapa stretched their lead with a fine solo effort, collecting a loose puck in his own end before skating the length of the ice and shooting over Tammi’s shoulder. Despite Comets’ best efforts Sharks continued to dominate, and with 8 minutes of the period remaining added another, Andy Craik feeding the puck from behind Comets’ net to Liam Stenton on the blueline, his shot batted away by Tammi only to be scooped up and sent home by Henderson to make it 4 goals to 1. Sharks kept pressing to the whistle, which saw the score stand at Comets 1 Sharks 4, meaning Sharks finished their cup qualifying campaign undefeated and top of the table. Calum Hepburn was Sharks’ man of the match.
Coach Jamie Thomson reflected, “I knew coming up here would take us some time to adjust to the bigger ice surface and that showed in the first 10 minutes – despite being up after the first 20 minutes I thought we were scrappy and getting caught out of position way too much. We addressed that as a group at the end of the period and from there I though we started to play and really showed our class in the third period. They have a decent squad and they worked hard all night, so it was nice to still come out with a comfortable win knowing they threw everything that had at us.
It was great to see Lewis Houston, Scott Henderson and Kieran Hair back in the line up; all 3 had a solid game. I thought Calum had another great game for us in nets and Dundee’s import netminder 100% kept them in the game longer than they should have been and he deserves the praise he’s been getting each week. All in I’m delighted to get the win and progress to the semi finals at the top of the group, and now looking forward to being back home next week against Billingham on Saturday.”
Sharks are back in home action on Saturday night, welcoming Billingham Stars in their next league game. Face off at Dumfries Ice Bowl is at 7pm.