Building Craftsmen Dumfries-sponsored Solway Sharks return to home ice this Saturday knowing two home wins in the next two weekends will secure a place at the end of season playoff weekend for Martin Grubb’s side.


The Sharks are now in the fourth and final playoff place after taking three points out of four last weekend from games with Sheffield and Sutton – coming from behind in both matches – to put themselves in the box seat for qualification.

The Dumfries club have won eight and drawn two of their 12 league games in 2016, rising from eighth in the standings in mid-January to their current fourth, knocking on the door of third.

In the first game of last weekend’s Ice Sheffield double bill, Sharks opened the scoring in the fifth minute through Daniel Abercrombie before the home town Spartans responded with three goals by 24.07 to lead 3-1. Solway made a quick response through Marc Fowley (24.23) to halve the deficit only to see Sheffield restore a two goal lead at the second break with Scott Morris’ goal at 36.29.

With their season on the line, Sharks went all out in the final frame, peppering 18 shots on the Spartans net. The pressure paid off with a double from Duncan Speirs (42.36, 45.19 SH) to tie the game at 4-4. The drama wasn’t done there, into the final minute Sharks’ ‘energy line’ created pressure around the Sheffield net and Steven Moore scored what turned out the game winner just 58 seconds from time.

Spartans swapped their goalie for an extra attacker in search of an equaliser but Sharks gained possession and scored into the empty net at 59.59 through Iain Bowie to wrap up the 6-4 win.

Twenty four hours later Solway Sharks returned to Ice Sheffield to take on Sutton Sting – and quickly found themselves 2-0 down inside six minutes. As they had done on Saturday night, Sharks dug deep and played their way back into the game. The middle session was dominated by the Dumfries side, with 19 shots on Dmitri Zimozdra with only three going back the other way on Kieran Hobbins. Despite this they only had Marc Fowley’s goal (33.20) to show and still trailed 2-1 at the second break.

A third period revival for the second night running saw the Sharks level the game at 44.18 through Daniel Abercrombie, before Steven Moore netted an unassisted goal at 48.37 to edge ahead 3-2. Sutton had the benefit of late powerplay chances and they were able to capitalise six minutes from time as Carl Ashton scored the final goal of the night for a final score of 3-3.

Head Coach Martin Grubb was satisfied on the whole with the weekend’s work.

“We wanted a four point weekend but with being behind in both games we have to be satisfied with 3 from 4.

“Against the Spartans we got the early goal and I would have liked us to have built on that but we were very sloppy and didn’t play with any tempo for first two periods and went 4-2 down.

“There were a few choice words spoken at period break and I asked the players to show the character I knew they had. To their credit they showed they can play in the third and we dominated that period to get the 6-4 win.

“It wasn’t a great performance but at this stage it’s all about points rather than performances so we were pleased to beat a hard working Spartans team.

“On Sunday we started very slowly and really gifted Sutton two goals and they were better than us in the first period. We needed to change the way we were playing and create a little more in front of net.

“We got a PP goal in the second period but [Sutton goalie] Dima was able to see the puck in their net and we knew we needed more traffic around the net.

“In the final period we again showed our strength of character and two great goals from Abercrombie and Moore put us 3-2 up. From there I would have liked us to take the win but we switched off a little to let them back to 3-3.

“At the end of the season it could still be a valuable point so on the whole we’re satisfied with the weekend work.”

Grubb also paid tribute to Sutton owner and coach Ian Johnson who is stepping away from the club after this season. Sunday’s game was his final home game for the Sting.

“I would like to wish Ian all the best for the future after his last home with the Sting. He has been a credit to his club and the league and helped Sutton play a major part of improving this league and he will be missed,” said Grubb.

BCD Solway Sharks host Telford Tigers this Saturday 19 March at Dumfries Ice Bowl – face off is 7pm, doors open 6pm and tickets are on sale from Ice Bowl reception on the night. Adults tickets are £8, concessions £5 and a family pass (2+3) is £16.

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