This weekend the Magnox Ltd. Solway Sharks return to league action with a home fixture against Sutton Sting on Saturday evening followed by a road trip to play the Blackburn Hawks on Sunday. Since the Sharks moved to the National Ice Hockey League Sutton have become fierce rivals on the ice and firm friends after the game. They like to play an open attacking game where they win by scoring more goals than their opponents so supporters at the Shark Tank can expect an enjoyable and entertaining game. If you enjoyed watching Ice Hockey on television from the Winter Olympics then why not take in a live game and experience the excitement first hand. Face-off at Dumfries Ice Bowl is at the usual time of 7pm.


Solway Sharks Ice Hockey Club


Match Report


Last Saturday the Solway Sharks, sponsored by Magnox Ltd, welcomed the Manchester Minotaurs to Dumfries and after an initial shock they stepped up the pace to record an impressive fourteen-two Northern Cup victory. The two points lifts Solway back into second place in the round-robin stage of the tournament and ensures that qualification for the final remains firmly within their own hands. While the scoreline enhances the Sharks goal difference and could yet prove decisive should they end up tying with Sutton or Blackburn.


From the opening face-off Solway took the game to their visitors but they found Manchester to be well-organised on the night and fully prepared to work hard to cover each other out on the ice. The visitors defence were quite prepared to give the Sharks space to operate out on the boards but in the centre their defence was resolute forcing Solway to shoot from distance in the early stages, Just before the six minute mark disaster struck for the home side. Jared Dickinson picked off a loose pass in his own defensive area and looking up he spotted Joe Greaves moving into free ice. A quick flick of his wrists sent a pinpoint pass diagonally across the neutral zone with perfect weight for Greaves to race onto and fire confidently into the Solway goal. For the remainder of the first period the Sharks continued to press for an equaliser but as before they found it difficult to break down the Manchester defence and in all honesty their netminder was rarely troubled.


Manchester surprised the home side at the beginning of the second period as they came out of their shell and forced Solway onto the back foot. Within two minutes Greaves and Hnilica combined to allow Cade King to double their advantage from close range. Immediately the Sharks tried to reply but they were still finding it difficult to make inroads against the Manchester defence and this was to remain the case until the twenty-eighth minute when the flood gates opened. A Pavol Melichercik pass sent Connor Henderson around behind the Minotaurs goal and when he emerged on the other side he had the presence of mind to thread a pass through traffic for Craig Thurston to convert from the low slot. Less than a minute later Solway were level when Connor Henderson fired through traffic in a goalmouth scramble only to see the Manchester keeper block his effort. However, the Sharks youngster had the presence of mind to collect the rebound, side-step the keeper and place the puck in the unguarded part of the goal.


A minor penalty on Struan Tonnar for cross-checking should then have given the momentum back to the visitors but even though they were a man down it was the home side who turned the screw. As the puck bobbled around the Manchester goalmouth it eventually found Frazer Goldie in the slot and he dispatched it into the net with relish. The Minotaurs did seem to steady the ship for the next five minutes but three goals in the final three minutes of the period were enough to effectively seal victory for the Dumfries side. Firstly a Craig Mitchell pass sent Iain Bowie up the right and his pass back into the high slot was perfectly weighted for Juraj Senko to fire home a first-time shot. Thirty seconds later Melichercik took his time behind the Manchester goal before releasing another inch-perfect set-up pass for Bowie to rifle home from the slot. With six seconds left in the session Struan Tonnar added goal number six with a crisp shot from the left-hand face-off circle after Mark Gallagher and Bob Chalmers had combined to set the Sharks striker on his way.


As the third period began the result of the game was somewhat academic but the Sharks knew that they still had a job to do and duly did their goal difference a power of good with a further eight unanswered goals. After six minutes play Mitchell and Bowie combined to free Senko on the right. For a second it looked as though possession had been lost below a defender’s skate but the big Slovakian recovered the puck, wheeled-around away from goal and fired an unstoppable shot past the startled keeper. Three minutes later the Henderson boys delivered their mother’s birthday present when Connor set up his older brother Callum to shoot home goal eight from the right-hand circle. Senko then proved his class as an attacking D-man with his third and fourth goals of the evening to move him to top of the scoring charts with his fiftieth (22+28) point of the season so far.


As the game approached its last five minutes an astute pass from James Wallace sent Craig Thurston free but as he closed in on goal he found the keeper well placed and unselfishly passed square for Pavol Melichercik to slot into the empty net. Solway’s twelfth goal came just thirty seconds later and was similar to its predecessor with Stevie Moore collecting a Ross Murray before squaring for Joe Coulter to blast home. With two and a half minutes remaining the Sharks scored their penultimate and best goal of the night when Craig Mitchell collected a loose puck in his own defensive zone before he raced up centre-ice and planted a terrific shot into the Manchester goal from just inside the blueline. The final nail in the Minotaur’s coffin was driven home with sixteen seconds remaining when Ross Murray sped up the left and fired in a low slot that deflected off a defenders skate. His momentum took him around behind the visitor’s goal and out at the far side in the perfect position to collect the deflection and fire home the rebound from his own shot.


Scoring statistics for the Sharks were as follows: Juraj Senko four goals and no assists, Iain Bowie, Connor Henderson and Pavol Melichercik all 1+2, Struan Tonnar, Craig Mitchell, Ross Murray, Joe Coulter and Craig Thurston all 1+1, Frazer Goldie and Callum Henderson both 1+0, Mark Gallagher 0+4, Robert Chalmers 0+2, James Wallace and Stevie Moore both 0+1. Kieran Hobbins in the Solway goal saved seven of the nine shots that he faced (save percentage 77.78%).


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