Under 16’s Solway Sharks Juniors Wow Whitley Bay

Solway Sharks Juniors Oakbank Services-sponsored Under 16s team broke new ground with a week-night game at Dumfries ice bowl, welcoming English opponents Whitley Bay Under 15s for a match during their usual Thursday evening training session.  Junior Ice Hockey games are usually played at weekends, but when the opportunity for a challenge game arose the young Sharks were keen to take part.

With Whitley being very much an unknown quantity, playing in a different league to Solway Sharks Juniors, the home team was uncertain about what to expect.  After a short spell sizing up their opponents, Solway showed their hand after 3 minutes, Lewis Houston scoring from Liam Stenton and Aidan Nicol.  With Whitley reeling, Houston repeated the feat seconds later, this time from Stenton and Lennon McNee.  Stenton himself was next to add to the Solway score, netting twice within 2 minutes, first from Houston, then combining with Jack Little.  With a comfortable cushion, the young Sharks relaxed and sat back, only to see Whitley take advantage and shoot past Joshua Leuvennink to claw one back on 10 minutes.  With a trademark Houston single-handed goal Solway regained their previous lead, and finished the first period 5-1 leaders.

Happy with the performance of his team, coach Jamie Kerr decided to let the older players take a back seat, and see how the up-and-coming players coped with the opposition, with an eye to the team for next season.  With the Solway youngsters in firm command of the play Whitley took advantage of a momentary lapse in awareness to knock another past Leuvennink to lessen the gap.  Solway were not phased, and kept battling away to contain Whitley, while mounting their own repeated attacks on goal, being denied only by the Whitley keeper.  It was Stenton who broke through next, scoring from Houston on 25 minutes, and with the young players firmly holding their own in even end-to-end play the period finished with the score 6-2 in Solway’s favour.

The third period saw Solway stay firmly in control, Stenton scoring after 16 seconds from Houston and Scott Rae, followed by Houston from Rae and Megan Gourlay 16 seconds later.  Whitley managed another 5 minutes later, before Charles Leuvennink netted from Scott McCutcheon 4 minutes after that. Whitley scored again on 40 minutes, but the Solway youngsters kept their heads and their focus, and were rewarded when Lennon McNee scored from Houston just shy of 43 minutes, taking the score to 10-4, which remained until the end of the game.  Scott McCutcheon was man of the match for Solway Sharks Juniors . After the game coach Kerr commented, “This was a fantastic opportunity for us to play an undefeated team from across the border, and I was pleased with the way the team played. We got the job done and secured a comfortable lead in the first, as has been pretty much the case against the mid & bottom teams in our league lately.  This allowed us to take the opportunity to get our youngsters into the game more – all the young guys from the u14s got extra ice tonight, and hopefully gained the much needed experience to become the go to guys in seasons to come.  We now look towards home and away games against Murrayfield who are a strong team; hopefully we can continue with the good starts, and keep that level from start to finish rather than getting into momentum tussle dog fights.”

Attached photo shows Joe Little, youngest Solway U16s player, (front), and Liam Stenton.

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