NIHL North round-up – week 20

BLACKBURN, UK – Solway Sharks have opened up a four point gap at the top of NIHL1 North after Saturday’s 3-2 home win over title rivals Billingham Stars.

Solway%27s Mark Gallagher (Photo: David Morrison)

Solway%27s Mark Gallagher (Photo: David Morrison)

Nathan Salem and Mark Gallagher put Sharks 2-0 inside the first ten minutes, but Richie Thornton halved the deficit early in the second period. Adam Reynolds made it 3-1 after 30 minutes and though James McCabe pulled one back for Stars late in the game, Sharks comfortably held on.
Stars desperately needed a win the following evening at home to Sutton Sting to stay in touch with Solway, but found themselves behind early on to a Shaun Ashton strike. Paul Windridge levelled things up before the first break and Stars moved in front in the middle period through Jamie Pattison. Sting’s Simon Offord made it 2-2 early in the third and though both teams had chances to secure the win, neither could find the net again.
Sheffield Spartans eased their relegation worries with a rare four-point weekend. On Saturday they travelled to meet Coventry Blaze and ran out easy 5-1 winners – Alex Harding (2), Will Barron, Andrew Turner and Ollie Barron got the goals. The following evening Spartans welcomed Blackburn Hawks to Ice Sheffield. Nick Manning, Will Barron and David Pyatt put Spartans three ahead in the first, but Petr Jagr made it 3-1 after the break. Chris Wilcox restored the three goal cushion soon after, but goals from Jared Owen, Aaron Davies and Ivo Dimitrijevs tied things up before the second buzzer. Two quick goals by Ollie Barron early in the third put Spartans back in control and Jon Woolhouse added another late on to seal a well-deserved 7-4 success.
Whitley Warriors had a mixed weekend as they looked to keep out of the drop zone. Dan MacKriel’s last minute winner broke Warriors’ hearts as they threw away a two goal lead to lose 4-3 at Blackburn, but they bounced back in style by demolishing Trafford Metros 10-1 – Callum Watson (4) and Christian Johnson (2) led the scoring. Metros did manage to pick up a point the previous day with a 4-4 draw at Telford Titans – Jake Nurse (2) and Joe Greaves (2) got Metros’ goals.
Lions celebrate late equaliser (Photo: John Knowles)

Lions celebrate late equaliser (Photo: John Knowles)

NIHL2 North leaders Nottingham Lions survived an almighty scare at Sheffield Senators to grab an unlikely point. Tom Proctor and Jonathan Bell put Senators 2-0 up, but Stuart Parker and Luke Branin brought Lions level. Senators looked to have secured the win when Joel Aheran put them back in front with four minutes left, but Michael Rose struck 16 seconds from the end to make it 3-3. Deeside kept their promotion bid on track with a 9-2 win at home to Fylde Flyers – James Parsons (3) and Jordan Bannon (2) led Dragons’ scoring. Solihull are still in the mix after narrowly beating the Senators 3-2 – Chris Allen, Joe Henry and Rob Eley got Barons’ goals.
Next weekend sees Solway host Blackburn, while in Division Two Deeside face-off against Nottingham.
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