Sharks Take Victory at Whitley Bay

The Building Craftsmen Dumfries didn’t have the comfort of a home game last weekend, instead travelling to Whitley Bay on Sunday evening to take on Warriors in the NIHL North Cup. 

Despite Sharks having emerged victorious on both previous occasions the teams have met this year at Dumfries, Warriors in home territory are always a difficult prospect and a tough game beckoned for Sharks, on the back of their first defeat of the season at Solihull the previous weekend.

As expected play was fast and physical from the off, with players battling for every puck.  There were chances at both ends early on, Sharks’ netminder Calum Hepburn and Warriors counterpart Dean Bowater being kept busy.  It was Warriors who took an early lead, Rolands Gritans scoring from short range at 8:40, assisted by Shaun Kippin and Callum Watson, much to the delight of the noisy Whitley fans.  Not downhearted, Sharks kept battling and it wasn’t long before the equalizer came, courtesy of Andrew Craik with his first senior Sharks goal.  Scott Crane battled for the puck against the boards behind Warriors net, and sent a looping pass over their defence to find Craik perfectly placed in front of the net, and he slid it under Bowater to the back of the net at 14:03.  Buoyed Sharks kept the momentum going, and another goal soon followed, Iain Bowie crossing the puck to Scott Henderson who made himself space, and his fast glove-side shot beat Bowater to put Sharks ahead at 17:31.  The game played out to the break with no further scoring, and the period ended Warriors 1 Sharks 2.

The second period saw play progress with the same intensity, Warriors equalizing at 24:24 through forward Callum Queenan, who tipped in defenceman Steven Chalmers’ long range shot to make it 2-2, Warriors Captain Dean Holland also assisting. Despite reclaiming their foothold in the contest, the Warriors’ discipline waned, but Sharks were unable capitalise on the powerplay opportunities.  As the period progressed there were again more chances, but it was another powerplay that saw Sharks regain the lead.  Iain Bowie won the face off in Sharks zone and fed the puck to Liam Stenton who took off through the Warrior’s defence and sent the puck over Bowater’s shoulder 39.15.  The period buzzer seconds later saw Sharks again in the lead, Warriors 2 Sharks 3.

With all to play for in the third both teams were fired up; after testing Hepburn in the opening minutes, the Warriors found themselves with a two-goal deficit to contend with.  Shorthanded Sharks stretched their lead as a Bentham clearance saw the puck slide loose behind Warriors’ net, allowing Callum Boyd to collect the puck unchallenged before playing in Bowie who was coming up on net unmarked, shot low and beat the netminder to score on 42:40; Warriors 2 Sharks 4.   Whitley went back on the attack and their efforts paid off as Chalmers rocketed a superb shot past Hepburn from the point at 48:01 to make it Sharks 4 Warriors 3.  A tripping penalty against Sharks followed seconds later, but the team remained composed and achieved their second shorthanded goal of the evening, Boyd rushing the Warriors’ net on the breakaway, passing the puck across to Stenton coming in at speed, who flicked the puck blocker side to restore his team’s two-goal cushion on 48:55.  At 55:55 Whitley were awarded a penalty shot which was scored by Gritans, lifting the puck into the roof of Hepburn’s net.  Suffering an injury in the process, Hepburn was helped off the ice and fellow netminder Jordan McLaughlin took his place between the pipes.  Although there was no further scoring in the final 4 minutes of the game, there was plenty of action with a fight on the ice and a slew of penalties ensued.  The final buzzer saw Sharks emerge 5 – 4 victors, maintaining their position at the top of the cup table.

Ross Murray was Sharks man of the match.

Reflecting on the victory coach Martin Grubb told us, “We came here off the back of a defeat in Solihull last week and we knew we had to be better against a good Whitley side which made some strong signings during the off season.  Our focus was to come here and make sure we performed well and the game had a bit of everything.  I thought the first period in particular was our best away performance of the season so far and we are happy with that. The two short-handed goals we scored were the difference in the game, and we were delighted to get them. Ultimately, we left with the two points and another victory under our belts, and we now look forward to going again against Billingham next week.”

Sharks welcome Billingham Stars to Dumfries Ice Bowl in their next cup game on Saturday night, face of is at the usual time of 7pm.

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