BLACKBURN, UK – Solway Sharks kept their treble hopes firmly on track with comfortable wins in both the league and cup this weekend. On Saturday they welcomed Blackburn Hawks to Dumfries in the Trans-Pennine East/West Trophy and were 2-0 up inside three minutes with goals from Bob Chalmers and Adam Reynolds. Aaron Davies pulled one back just before the first break and Hawks pulled level after 27 minutes through Ivo Dimitrijevs. Reynolds quickly restoredSharks’ lead, but Dimitrijevs soon made it 3-3. Reynolds completed his hat-trick late in the second, before grabbing his fourth of the night after 41 minutes. Ross Murray and Nathan Salem added further goals for Sharks to complete a 7-3 victory to move through to the final against Billingham Stars.
The following evening Sharks travelled to Whitley Warriors and again took an early lead through John Connolly. Nathan Salem added a second after 14 minutes, but Nathan Ryder brought Warriors back into things early in the middle period. Salem then took centre stage hitting four unanswered goals to make it 6-1. DJ Good pulled one back for Warriors, but the visitors comfortably saw the game out to go three points clear at the top of NIHL1 North.
Billingham Stars’ title hopes were dealt a severe blow with a 6-3 defeat at Sutton Sting. Chris Sykes (2), Jamie Spurr, Simon Offord, Dan Sayer and Richie Oliver got the Sting goals, with Cal Davies (2) and Simon Leach replying for the visitors. Sutton followed up with a narrow win at home to Trafford Metros. Sykes put Sting ahead after 14 minutes, but Joe Greaves quickly made it 1-1. Metros moved in front midway through the second as Greaves grabbed another, but Sting stepped things up in the final period. Craig Thurston equalised, before Ryan Johnson and Sykes’ second of the game made it 4-2. Jamie Rogerson brought Metros to within one with five minutes left, but Sting held on to seal the win.
Telford Titans’ excellent home form continued on Saturday with a 7-2 victory over Coventry Blaze – Ed Eaton (3), Chris Jones, Ryan Stanton, Dan Tayor and Ollie Hunt got the goals. The following evening Titans travelled to Blackburn Hawks, looking to improve on a record of just two road wins all season. Aaron Davies and Chris Arnone put Hawks ahead in the first, but Hunt and Ryan Stanton tied things up early in the second. Myles Dacres moved Hawks back in front, but Simon Harrison made it 3-3 after 45 minutes. Sam Dunford restored the home team’s lead soon after and Bobby Streetley’s last minute empty netter sealed a 5-3 success.
Sheffield Spartans boosted their survival hopes with a 6-4 win at Trafford. Shaun Wild (2), Ollie Barron (2), Scott Morris and Arran Bell got Spartans’ goals.
Sunday’s big game in NIHL2 North saw promotion rivals Deeside Dragons and Solihull Barons do battle. Chris Allen gave Barons an early lead, but Jordan Bannon drew Deeside level. Two quick goals from Allen and Richie Slater put Baons 3-1 up, before James Parsons closed the gap to one late in the first. Brian Worrall made it 3-3 by the midway point and Ric Hughes sent Dragons in front for the first time just before the second buzzer. Ben Simister made it 5-3 early in the final period, but Slater’s second of the night soon after set up a tense finish. Dragons’s top scorer Shaun Kippin sent the home crowd home happy with a 52nd minute powerplay goal to seal a 6-4 win. The only other game in Division Two saw Hull Stingrays triumph 5-0 at Blackburn Eagles.
Next weekend sees Solway and Billingham clash in Dumfries on Saturday, while in NIHL2 Sheffield Senators host Nottingham Lions.