Hawks Fantastic 4 Point Weekend
Full 9 Yards sponsored Blackburn Hawks too their play-off push to another level at the weekend with a pair of excellent results.
Blackburn Hawks 4 Nottingham Lions 0
On Saturday, bottom club Nottingham visited the nest in a re-arranged fixture and belied their league position with a spirited performance. Hawks started strong and Miles Finney in the Lions’ net had to be on his game to keep Hawks from building a lead.
It took the Hawks until the 26th minute to find a way past the excellent Finney. Jordan Bannon found James Riddoch behind the net and his pin point pass into the crease was perfect for the rushing Lee Pollitt who swept the puck home. Lions were more in the game in the period and tested Harrison Walker a few times as they reminded the Hawks’ just how slender their lead was.
Five minutes into the third period and Hawks finally got the insurance goal they were looking for. With the home side on the power play James Neil passed to Robin Kovar who let loose a cannon that bounced off the back boards straight to Ross Kennedy who lost no time in sending it past the outstanding Finney. That seemed to quell the Nottingham resistance and Hawks had a good spell of domination and scored the third of the night. Aaron Davies was sitting out a 2 minute hooking penalty when James Royds took possession in his own defensive zone an went coast to coast to fire the puck between the netminder and the post. Robin Kovar finished the scoring with 57 minutes on the clock, picking up the puck on his own blue line, skated round a Nottingham D-man and deked Finney down on his pads before lifting the puck into the top of the net. The scoreline would have been a lot higher but for the outstanding performance from Lions’ man of the match Miles Finney who saved an incredible 68 out of 72 shots on him. Ross Kennedy picked up the beers for the home side.
Billingham Stars 2 Blackburn Hawks 9
Sunday night saw the Hawks make the journey to the North East to play the Billingham Stars. Although they comfortably beat their opponents last week, James Neils’ side were taking nothing for granted whilst looking for another 2 points. They travelled with their biggest squad of the season with only Adam Barnes and the injured Rick Ravey missing.
After easily surviving an early penalty kill, Hawks took the lead on 3.54. Aaron Davies and Petr Valusiak combined with some neat play, with Davies bringing a good save from Flavell in the Stars net, however Hawks recovered the rebound and the puck fell to Craig Lutkevitch in the slot and he let go a cannon that bulged the net for the first goal of the evening. Stars were playing a physical game but the resolute Hawks stood up to everything they threw at them. With 12 minutes on the clock, Lee Pollitt was the victim of a nasty slash by Stars import Bormanis. Lee took umbrage at this and threw a few punches at the Stars man with the latter not engaging and as a result, Lee was ejected from the game. The extra man made no difference to the Stars as Hawks doubled their lead just 12 seconds later with a short handed goal, going coast to coast and wrong footing Flavell to make it 2-0. Hawks were on fire and Robin scored his second in less than an minute as his slow shot towards the netminder’s five hole trickled into the net. Jared Dickinson scored a 4th goal a minute later. James Neil gained the offensive zone and passed to Petr Valusiak who’s shot rebounds to Dickinson who made no mistake. Stars pulled one back shortly after as the crowd were treated to 4 goals in less than 2 minutes.The period ended with no further scoring and the travelling Hawks fans were in good voice as their heroes made for the dressing room.
Not so many goals in the second stanza but no let up in the entertainment. Stars appeared to be doing their best to unsettle Harrison Walker and after one such occasion, Hawks reacted. Ross Kennedy dropped the gloves with Chris Sykes and both of them sat out 2+2 for their tussle. Hawks were managing the penalty kill very well in the game and again scored a short handed goal on 36.22. Robin Kovar was fastest to react an flew down the ice to fire a quick shot between Flavell and the post for his hat-trick goal and a score of 5-1 to the Hawks. They ended the period with another goal. A Luke Boothroyd trade mark special as he ripped the puck from the centre of the blue line through the Stars defence for 6-1.
Four minutes into the final period, Hawks added another to the scoreboard. Ross Kennedy faked a shot and passed across the ice to Robin Kovar and the on-fire Czech forward hit a one timer over Flavell’s shoulder into the top of the net for his 4th goal of the night. 45 seconds later the visitors made it 8-1 as Olli Lomax found a free Aaron Davis to beat the net minder. The torture continued for the home fans just a minute later when Jordan Bannon crossed the blue line on the left, moved into the centre and placed the puck perfectly into the net. Stars did get a small consolation with the final goal of the evening with 5 minutes left but the Hawks completed their task with more shots on the beleaguered Flavell without adding to the score. Final score, an outstanding 9-2 win for the Hawks. The Man of the Match award went to Robin Kovar for a scintillating 4 goal display but every one of the Hawks team played their part in an excellent display.
Hawks consolidated their play off place this weekend but will have their sights set on catching the Solihull Barons who are only 2 points ahead of them in 6th place with 4 games left.
Head coach James Neil commented after the weekend’s games. “The lads really showed what they can do this weekend and two great wins give us that bit of momentum as we head for the play offs in a couple of weeks. We have four games left, two against the top sides and a couple against teams around us. We are looking for a strong finish to take us into the knockout stage of the season.”
Thanks to Shona for her excellent updates and Tom for the photographs