REPORT: Sharks three points clear in early league standings after Sutton win

Building Craftsmen Dumfries sponsored Solway Sharks made it five wins from five in League play this season with a 3-0 home success over Sutton Sting last Saturday. The result leaves the Dumfries club three points clear at the top of the NIHL North Division 1 ahead of this weekend’s blank schedule.

Sutton arrived at the Ice Bowl for the second time in three weeks, this time boosted by the signings of import Martin Finkes and highly experienced Lloyd Gibson. Sharks were playing for the first time since Richard Bentham returned to Blackburn but were otherwise at full strength.

Stuart Kerr, Connor Henderson and Jordan Buesa had been in Bratislava with GB U20 but flew into Glasgow on Saturday morning and took to the ice for the game.

The Sharks started brightly and played at a high tempo early on. As in their previous encounter goalie Dmitri Zimozdra was standing tall in the Sutton net, thwarting the chances that the home side were creating.

A breakthrough was finally made halfway through the first period – defencemen James Wallace and Kim Miettinen built play from the back before setting up Marc Fowley to shoot high past Zimozdra for the opening score. Despite further pressure this was the only goal of the period.

The middle session saw Sharks dominate once again, 14-9 the shot count, but only a single goal came from their pressure. Jordan Buesa was on hand to sweep the puck into the net after Struan Tonnar and Ben Edmonds had created the opportunity. 36.42 the goal time, and Sharks 2-0 ahead at the second break.

Solway’s complete control over the game saw a final frame shot count of 15-4 – even more one-sided, but a mixture of good goaltending and wasteful finishing meant there was yet again just a single counter on the scoreboard. Daniel Abercrombie with the scoring touch at 41.27 with helpers from Marc Fowley and Steven Moore. Time played out on the home win with Sharks and goalie Kieran Hobbins recording their first shutout of the season – saving all 19 shots fired from Sutton forwards.

Sharks bench coach Scott McMeeken said: “For the fourth game in a row we’ve outshot our opponents two-to-one but haven’t taken full advantage of the chances. That meant it was harder work to get the win but I thought we were always in control of the game with Sutton.

“We need to be more clinical and that’s an area for us to work on, but five wins from five in the League is a great start and we have to be happy with that.”

McMeeken recognised the contribution of the team’s defensive core, backstopped by goalie Kieran Hobbins.

“Tonight was the first time we’ve shut a team out, and Kieran deserved his shutout. While we were on top but without taking chances, we needed him to come up with big saves and he did that at the right times.

“Defensively we’ve looked very solid at the back end and that has been the platform we’ve used to get the results we have this season.

“We’ll use this free week to rest a couple of bumps and bruises then we’ll come ready to work for the game against Billingham. From now through November it’s going to be a very busy month so we need to make sure we don’t lose our momentum and our focus as the games come thick and fast.”

After this weekend’s blank schedule, the BCD Solway Sharks are next at home against Billingham Stars in NIHL North Cup action on Saturday 22 October. Faceoff at Dumfries Ice Bowl is 7pm, doors open at 6pm. Tickets are on sale from Ice Bowl reception £8 adults, £5 concessions. Under 16 are free with a paying adult. Season tickets are valid for the NIHL Cup games.

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