Mixed Bag for Hawks
Full 9 Yards Sponsored Blackburn Hawks played 2 Moralee Division games at the weekend with mixed fortunes.
On Saturday, they played league leaders Telford Tigers in front of a large crowd at the nest. Unfortunately, Telford proved too strong for them overall, despite some great effort from the team.
BLACKBURN HAWKS 1 TELFORD TIGERS 7
Hawks running with nearly a full bench, missing the suspended Lee Pollitt and injured Rick Ravey. Adam Barnes icing and Harrison Walker starts between the pipes.
Hawks were slow out of the traps and Telford took full advantage after 1.02. Taylor shot on Walker and Ross Kennedy poked the puck out but it went straight to Scott McKenzie who faked a shot and fired home for 0-1. Hawks settled down and made some chances of their own with Jordan Bannon fighting his way past 3 Telford players, laid off to James Neil who brought a fine save from Miller in the Tigers net. The home side looked the better side in the first 10 minutes but a steady Tigers defence looked composed as they dealt with most attacks. Adam Barnes was combining well with Petr Valusiak but just could not get the luck of the puck as he went close a few times. The period ended with Jordan Bannon getting off a last second shot which was saved off the netminders shoulder.
Telford scored early in the period to double their lead. A mistake at the back allowed Aston with plenty of room to score over Walker’s shoulder. Ollie Lomax then sat out a rather strange 2 minute slashing penalty but was to be instrumental in Hawks getting on the score sheet. As Ollie came out of the box, Kovar in possession near the centre line, used him as a decoy and cut in from the wing to fire an unstoppable shot to the top left corner. Goal was unassisted timed at 25.58. Hawks then had their best stint in the game for the next five minutes and Telford were back on their heels. As all good teams do, Telford soaked up some good Hawks pressure then went up the ice and regained their 2 goal advantage. The three most experienced players in their line up, Plant, Weaver and Silverthorn combined to engineer an odd man rush and Walker had no chance as the latter fired over his outstretched glove for 3-1 timed at 33.45. A minute later the game got away from the home side as Taylor scored a neat goal to make it 4-1. Kovar then hit the pipes with a great shot as Telford defended a penalty kill and Barnes and Valusiak burst into the Telford zone only to be denied by the net mysteriously coming off its moorings. That was it for the second period as Telford went for a second cup of team leading 4-1.
Hawks had the first chance of the third period as Barnes drew a huge rebound from Miller but the puck just eluded Valusiak and the chance was gone. Hawks were then called for too many men but it was the home side that made the better chances when short handed. Adam Barnes had two great chances, the first one going just wide and the second bringing a good save from Miller.
Tigers then blitzed Hawks with 3 goals in just over 3 minutes. Firstly McKenzie got past Petr Valusiak and hit the puck top shelf past the helpless Walker for 5-1. Youngster Howells then found himself all alone in the slot with a clear shooting lane and he made no mistake and it was 6-1. The last goal of the evening came on 52.14 as Aston sent a pass across the crease and Silverthorn had an easy tap in for 7-1.
Hawks will be a little disappointed in the score line as they certainly held their own for long period of the game. Simple, clinical counter attacking by a very good Telford side proved the difference on the night.
SUTTON STING 2 BLACKBURN HAWKS 6
Hawks travelled over the Pennines to take on Sutton Sting in Sunday’s game, looking for the points to keep the pressure on Solihull Barons in the fight for 6th place in the league. Only change to Hawks line up was Adam Barnes missing the game.
Hawks looked like they meant business and the first incident of note was after 1.43. Stings’ Lascek and our own Craig Lutkovitch squared up but nothing really happened apart from both heading for the box on a coincidental 2+2 fighting penalty. After a brief flurry of Sting offence, Hawks took the lead. With James Riddoch in the box on a hooking penalty and Bobby Streetly found Robin Kovar high up and after faking a shot, hit a beauty that beat Gilfoy in the Sutton goal. Goal timed at 4.58. Hawks sensed a good chance to take control of the game and made it 2-0 after 6.12, James Riddoch found Ross Kennedy in the slot and a deflected shot beat the nettie to double the lead. It was all Hawks and Sting were taking penalties as they tried to stay in the game. 42 seconds into yet another Sutton penalty resulted in the visitors’ 3rd goal of the evening. James Neil spotted a free Ross Kennedy and his pass was perfect, as was the shot from Ross as his one timer bulged the net for 3-0. Sutton then took over for a short time as they pinned Hawks back but great defence kept them out. The period ended with Sutton on the front foot but trailing by 3-0.
Sutton pulled a goal back with a neat low shot by Lascek which found its way under Walker’s pads on 22.53. Hawks nearly re-established their 3 goal advantage as Luke Boothroyd went coast to coast and passed the puck from behind the net to the waiting Aaron Davies in front of the crease. The shot was good but Gilfoyle made an amazing reaction save to deny Aaron a certain goal. Sutton then made it a one goal game on 26.25. Again import Lascek was the scorer as he was the first to react to a scramble in front of Walker and poke the puck home. The next goal in the game was going to be crucial and thankfully it went to the Hawks.
With a Sting player in the box on a 2 minute tripping penalty, Petr Valusiak skated wide right and made a bee line for the net. His shot rebounds of Gilfoyle’s pads and James Royds was in the right place at the right time to slot the puck home. Goal timed at 31.05.
Fine end to end play from both sides without either team scoring made sure that the third was going to be an exciting 20 minutes of hockey.
Hawks scored a vital 5th goal just 45 seconds into the final stanza. James Royds took the puck into the Sting defensive zone and waited for the on rushing Robin Kovar who made no mistake.
With Lascek of Sutton and Hawks’ Kovar both looking for hat trick goals, both teams had chances to score. It was the visitor’s sharp shooter that won the honours with his 3rd of the night on 51.15. Craig Lutkovitch found Robin, who took off for goal and his blistering shot found the top corner of the net before Gilfoyle even moved. Kovar had obviously annoyed Sutton and he took a poor slash from Ryan Johnson with 1.40 left in the game, resulting in the Sutton player receiving a 5 plus game as punishment.
A great win for Hawks, keeping the pressure on the Solihull Barons for that 6th place in the league. Barons are 2 points ahead and next weeks clash in the Midlands will be a doozy.
Man of the match went to Harrison Walker with the whole team in contention for the beers after a decisive win.
Photographs by Tom Foy and thanks to Jonny Comber and Shona Welch for game updates.