BLACKBURN, UK – Solway Sharks began their NIHL1 North season with a pair of wins – but had to survive an almighty scare along the way. Nathan Salem (2), Adam Reynolds & Steven Moore gave Sharks a 4-0 league victory on Saturday against Trafford Metros. The following evening they travelled to face Blackburn Hawks in the Trans Pennine East/West Trophy, but trailed 3-0 early in the second – Myles Dacres, Ric Ravey & Dave Meikle got the goals.
Ashton continued to impress in the third and it looked like his heroics would grab a point for the Hawks, but with less than two minutes left, captain Chris Arnone took a needless cross-checking penalty and Reynolds took full advantage on the resulting powerplay to make it 4-3. Owen was unhappy with the official saying, “We get it every time we have Emmerson; he seems to have a thing against us. Credit to Solway, they created their chances and put them away, but you get disappointed when you have a team working hard and everything you do gets called.”
Whitley Warriors started the weekend well with a 5-2 win at Sheffield Spartans. Dean Holland (2), Garry Dowd, Martin Crammond and DJ Good scored Warriors goals, with Ross Jordan and Scott Morris replying for Sheffield. On Sunday they hosted Billingham Stars in the Northern Cup but fell behind to an early Andy Finn goal. Jamie Tinsley and Alex Lawson put Warriors in front before the end of the first, but Stars rallied with Adam Robinson (2) and Michael Bowman sealing a 4-2 win.
Sutton Sting got their season underway with a draw at home to Coventry Blaze. Connor Hubbuck gave Blaze the lead after 15 minutes, before Jamie Spurr levelled midway through the second. Josh Nicklin put Blaze back in front in the 37th minute, but some harsh words from Sting Coach Ian Johnson at the second break saw the home team step things up in the final period. Simon Butterworth made it 2-2, before Matt Jeffcock put Sting ahead for the first time. Blaze refused to lie down and Phillip Pollock tied the game at 3-3.
In NIHL2 North, Sheffield Senators stunned Deeside Dragons with a deserved 3-1 road win. Shaun Kippin gave Dragons an early lead, but goals from Simon Manning, Jonathan Kirk & Tom Humphries gave Senators the points. Solihull Barons beat Blackburn Eagles 11-0 – Richard Slater (3), Neil Adams (3) & Ian Hunt (2) led the scoring. Ex-Nottingham Panthers forward Simon Hunt scored twice as Nottingham Lions beat Hull Stingrays 8-0.
Next weekend sees Solway face-off at home to Coventry on Saturday, followed by a trip on Sunday to meet Sheffield Spartans. Sutton face a tough weekend league and cup double-header against Billingham.
Contact the author at: Michael.Black@prohockeynews.com