REPORT: Three from three but Sharks can play better says coach

NEXT @ HOME: BCD Solway Sharks v Blackburn Hawks, NIHL North Cup on Saturday September 24 2016, 7pm face off at Dumfries Ice Bowl.  Tickets from Ice Bowl reception on the night £8 adults, £5 concession, U16 free with paying adult. Doors open 6pm.  Season tickets are valid for this match.

Building Craftsmen Dumfries sponsored Solway Sharks recorded their third win from three games to start the season last Saturday, but coach Martin Grubb said his side can still play better.

Sharks scored a 4-1 win over Sutton Sting at the Ice Bowl but it was a stuttering performance which didn’t show the fluency of the previous week’s wins against Billingham and Whitley Bay.

It was the visitors who opened the scoring against the run of play on their first real attack in the seventh minute. Scott Morris won the face off and Ben Jones fired a one-timer past Kieran Hobbins in the Sharks net.

The Solway forwards created plenty of scoring chances but many were straight at Sutton goalie Zimozdra. They finally levelled at 10.22 when Daniel Abercrombie found a way past Zimozdra from the narrowest of angles from Connor Henderson’s assist.

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Before the first interval, Sharks had their nose in front as Richard Bentham finished off a slick move featuring Kim Miettinen and Joe Coulter and Solway were up 2-1 after 20 minutes’ play.

The home side dominated the middle frame, firing 24 shots on net opposed to only 8 coming back the other way, but there was only two goals to show for their pressure. Bentham turned provider for Coulter at 23.39 for 3-1, before Abercrombie netted his second of the game just over two minutes from the end of the period to make the game safe at 4-1.

A scoreless final session again saw Sharks in command but unable to make any of their 17 shots on goal count. Time played out on a comfortable win, a third from three starts this season and top spot in the embryonic NIHL table.

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After the game, Sharks coach Martin Grubb said: “We’re pleased with the win and keeping our run going, but it was a frustrating performance in many respects.

“Last week we were fast and clinical but tonight felt laboured at times – we had 60 shots on goal but most of them were straight at the goalie’s chest, we didn’t make him work to make the saves.

“We can play better that’s for sure, yes we’re three for three at the moment but we will have to be at our best every week if we want to sustain it.”

On two-goal forward Daniel Abercrombie, Grubb added: “He’s made an impact since he came to us last year, and now he’s here full time he is growing and developing even more.

“His line with Connor Henderson and Steven Moore has so much speed and skill, they can cause real problems for teams. Daniel is taking his chances and he is at the age where he can still get better.”

This coming weekend, Sharks take a break from League action to play two NIHL North Cup ties – Blackburn Hawks are the visitors to the Ice Bowl on Saturday (7pm face off). Solway then travel to Teesside on Sunday to play defending Cup holders Billingham Stars (6.30pm).

“It’s the Cup this weekend but for us it’s just another game, we want to keep winning and keep the momentum going as long as possible,” said Grubb.

“Blackburn are a very different team to that which won League and Playoffs last year, but we know they’ll be hard to beat with a solid core and two good import forwards under coach Matt Darlow.

“Billingham are the Cup holders, in their rink they’re a tough proposition so it’s going to be tough.

“We’ll work hard in practice this week and come to work on Saturday fully prepared for the games.”

BCD Solway Sharks host Blackburn Hawks in NIHL North Cup action on Saturday. 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.

Photo credit: David Morrison

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