Steeldogs take points and cup advantage

The BCD welcomed the NIHL North 1 (Moralee) league leaders to the Shark Tank on Saturday evening in a match that would count as both a league fixture and a NIHL National Cup quarter-final fist-leg. Unfortunately this was not to prove to be the Sharks night and despite a battling performance they fell six-two to a very good Steeldogs side.

From the opening puck drop play constantly swung from end to end with neither side dominant for any extended period of time and with both defences looking capable of keeping the opposing forwards at bay. For the Sharks Duncan Speirs was looking very lively and was at the heart of every dangerous Sharks attack while for the opposition Cameron Brownley and Milan Kolena both looked dangerous. As shots on goal slightly favoured the visitors at eleven to seven it would probably be fair to say that this reflected the overall shape of the game and the first interval arrived with neither Dmitri Zimozdra or Calum Hepburn’s goal breached.

The second period started with Sheffield very much on the front foot and Solway immediately pressed deep into their own defensive zone and it wasn’t to take long for the puck to find Adrian Palak (21:29) in the high slot and his shot flew into the roof of the Sharks goal. The supporters were barely back in their seats before the one contentious incident in the game occurred. As the Sharks attacked down the right wing the linesman called an extremely dubious offside on Struan Tonnar who, already in the act of shooting, fired in a shot that cannoned of the goal frame. The referee, Mr Elliott, then inexplicably called a two minute misconduct penalty on the Sharks captain. To compound the Sharks sense of injustice Sheffield proceeded to pass the puck around patiently on the powerplay until Jamie Spurr and Milan Kolena set up Ashley Calvert (24:02PP) to double the visitors advantage.

This poor start to the second period seemed to dishearten the home side and the Steeldogs continued to control much of the second period running in two more unanswered goals through Lloyd Gibson (30:17) and a short-handed strike from Cameron Brownley (39:08 SH) as the period drew towards its conclusion. A measure of the visitors domination in this period can be seen in the shots on goal count which went in their favour by thirteen to three.

The Sharks returned to the ice for the final session in a far more positive frame of mind and it was their turn to take the game to the Steeldogs who, with a four goal advantage, were content to keep Solway at bay and attack on the break. A needless interference on Stuart Kerr gave Sheffield their second powerplay of the game and Adrian Palak (43:43 PP) added his second counter with a crisp finish from the right-hand face-off circle. The Sharks responded quickly with Duncan Speirs (45:58 pictured) finding the net from a narrow angle after being expertly picked out by Iain Bowie.

The Steeldogs restored a five goal advantage a little against the run of play when Jamie Spurr and Ashley Calvert combined well in a flowing move to set up the ever dangerous Milan Kolena (53:21) to score from close range. Solway took this setback well and were quickly back on the offensive with Struan Tonnar (55:19) taking a Vaclav Kolarik pass around behind the Steeldogs goal before singing out to score from the right-hand circle. While Sheffield certainly deserved their victory the Sharks will take heart from the fact that they held their opponents for two out of the three periods and out shot them by nineteen to seven in the final period.

The man of the match awards were presented to Lloyd Gibson for the Steeldogs and to Joe Coulter for the Sharks.

Full match statistics can be found by following this link.

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