Sharks Topple Title Champs – Ice Hockey News

The Building Craftsmen Dumfries welcomed league champions Whitley Warriors to the ice bowl on Saturday night for their last regular NIHL game of the season, looking to cement their league position in their push for the upcoming league playoffs.

In front of a packed crowd Warriors took an early lead against a hard-working Sharks team who looked up for the challenge, Ben Richards opening the scoring at 4:37.  Hard and fast play ensued, the teams looking evenly matched as Warriors looked to increase the gap and Sharks worked to contain them.  As the period played out Sharks took advantage of a Warriors penalty to score the equaliser at 15:57, Iain Bowie working the puck to Liam Stenton on the blueline, his shot helped past Warriors netminder Jordan Boyle by Gordon Horne, much to the delight of the home fans.  There were chances at both ends in the final four minutes, but with Boyle and Gary Russell working hard there was no further scoring, and the score was an even 1 -1 at the first buzzer.

The second saw a determined start from both teams, looking for a goal to pull ahead.  It was another Warriors penalty that broke the deadlock, and again it was Gordon Horne who scored, a nifty cross from Viktor Nestrasil finding him in space at the back door, and his backhand shot again beat Boyle to give Sharks a goal advantage at 27:33.  More physical play ensued, tempers fraying and the game fragmented by a string of penalties, culminating in a fracas between Peter Gapa and Warriors’ Callum Queenan with just over 3 minutes of the period left.  With blood on the ice the period was ended early to allow a clean-up, the remaining time added to the start of the third.  As the team left the ice the Sharks held on to their 2 -1 advantage.

As the play restarted after the break Warriors were a man up due to Sharks penalties and they took full advantage, Dean Holland netting the equaliser at 37:47 – 2 goals all the score.  With parity of numbers restored Sharks drew ahead again, Ewan Anderson with a grand unassisted wraparound goal at 39:39.  As momentum flowed their way Sharks struck again seconds later, Anderson winning the faceoff and sending Gapa straight to the net for the final shot at 41:15.  In response Warriors Watson confronted him and was ejected from the game for fighting.  With the score at 4 – 2 Sharks were again on the powerplay, and slick movement from Nestrasil to Struan Tonnar to Anderson saw the latter find the net again just over a minute later, the score 5 – 2 at 42:25.  With what was judged a late hit Sharks Kieran Hair was ejected from the game at  42:40, a slew of Warriors penalties from the resulting melee saw Sharks back on the powerplay.  Seconds later Stuart Kerr added a sixth for Sharks, his strike from the blueline on the end of passes from Stenton and Gapa at 42:58 putting Sharks in control with a four-goal advantage at 6 – 2.

Warriors at this point pulled their netminder, despite starting with 4 skaters to Sharks five.  A procession of empty net goals for Sharks followed, Gapa unassisted at 43:04, then assisted by Russell at 44:11, before adding his fourth from Henderson and Nestrasil at 48:08. Henderson weighed in next from Stenton at 48:17, before Gapa added again at 48:42 from Anderson and Henderson.  Gordon Horne netted for his hattrick at 49:35 from Bowie.  After 6 minutes with no netminder and the score Sharks 12 Warriors 2 Warriors put netminder Rory Dunn back into their net, and with some order restored play continued.  Making a break against the run of play Warriors Thomas Fraser beat Russell for a shorthanded goal at 55:53, before Sharks 16-year-old Andy Craik weighed in with his first NIHL goal at 57:08, assisted by Tonnar and Ruairi Lockerbie.  At the end of turbulent period the final score sat at Sharks 13 Warriors 3.  Gordon Horne was Sharks’ man of the match.

Head coach Martin Grubb commented, “Our games against Whitley have been hard fought affairs this season and this was the first one since they were crowned league winners. We wanted to prove we could compete as we didn’t feel we did ourselves justice the last time we played.  We started a little sloppy but quickly got into a tempo that suited our game and we tried to take the play to them and dominate the game.  The game was tight as expected but I was pleased with how we kept our discipline and got our powerplay working and capitalised to take the lead after the 2nd period.  We started the 3rd really well and again our powerplay was clicking and we got ourselves a good lead at 6-2.  What happened next is something that doesn’t deserve my time as I have too much respect for the game, and all we focussed on was winning a hockey game and making sure we beat the warriors for the fourth time out of six this year to try and take any momentum we could into the playoffs and repay our supporters for the poor performance the last time we played them.  I was happy we did that whilst remaining disciplined and showing our class, and we now look forward to the post season and trying to win both playoffs we are in.”

Sharks are through to the playoff stage of the Scottish National League and face North Ayrshire Wild in a double-header this weekend – the winner progressing to the Finals weekend in Dundee in April.  Sharks are in Auchenharvie on Saturday, and face Wild at the ice bowl on Sunday evening, face off is at 5.30pm.



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