It was always going to be a tough weekend for the Full 9 Yards sponsored Blackburn Hawks away to 4th place Solway Sharks on Saturday and at home to table topping Sheffield Steeldogs on the Sunday.
SOLWAY SHARKS 10 BLACKBURN HAWKS 1
The Saturday game saw a depleted Hawks team travel across the border to Dumfries to take on the Solway Sharks and a powerful, energetic display by the home side left the Hawks with too much to do with only 11 out-skaters. Hawks goal came from James Royds.
BLACKBURN HAWKS 4 SHEFFIELD STEELDOGS 7
Hawks added to their roster during the week with Jared Dickinson and Ben Wood making their debuts. Adam Barnes returns wearing his usual nr 88. Hawks missing Rick Ravey, James Neil and Bobby Streetly – all out injured. Ross Kennedy sits out the 2nd of a 3 game ban. Ronnie Grimes Jr again plays up and wears nr 41.
Hawks made a blistering start to the game, taking the lead after 9 seconds. Adam Barnes drops the puck back from behind the net and James Royds hit a one timer past Stones in the Sheffield net. The second assist went to debutant Jared Dickinson
Steeldogs equalised on 2.37 with a goal from Cameron Brownley and they upped a gear, taking the game to the Hawks. Hawks, however were not overawed and made chances of their own with Adam Barnes causing havoc in the Sheffield defensive zone.
With Robin Kovar sitting a 2 minute holding penalty, the Dogs took the lead when a shot from the point by Ben Morgan was tipped into the net by Kolena. Steeldogs had the Hawks on the back foot and Niks Trapans was called on to make a succession of saves to keep the score at 1-2. The away side were looking the most likely to score next and on 12.27 they did just that. A neat move between Spiers and Hirst ended with a pin point pass to Salem all alone at the back post hit a perfect shot past Trapans. Hawks pulled a goal back on 14.53 when Adam Barnes lost control of the puck around the blue line. The defence fumbled and a loose puck found its way to Stones who fanned on the shot and the puck found the back of the net. The last action of the first period saw Petr Valusiak fly down the left wing, straight into a linesman and a promising move was halted. The period ended with no further scoring and the visitors hit the locker room with a 3-2 lead. A very entertaining period for the large crowd, boosted by several school visits.
Steeldogs came out strong at the start of the second period and doubled their led on 21 minutes. Youngster Alex Graham wristed a fine shot that beat Trapans for his first goal for Sheffield. The huge crowd raised the roof on 22.11 as Hawks reduced the arrears once again. Ben Wood and Petr Valusiak worked well and Lee Pollitt took the puck forward into the danger area and a superb pass found Adam Barnes at the far post and the young sniper hit the twine. The Steeldogs are top of the league for a reason and they increased the tempo and made it 3-5 on 26.24. A two on one break ended with Trapans making a great save from Salem but Spiers was on hand to score. Trapans again came good with two fine saves to stop the Steeldogs putting the game away. The injury jinx struck Hawks again as Craig Lutkovitch took a puck to the face and had to leave the ice. With 32.01 on the clock, a fine move by Brownley and Palak ended with Relf lifting the puck high into the net. Steeldogs controlled the rest of the period and the second intermission came with the visitors having a 6-3 lead.
Hawks started the third period without Lutkovitch who was on his way to hospital to have his mouth checked out. Robin Kovar had a couple of good runs with the second of them producing a good save from Stones. James Royds bore down on the rebound but was tripped just as he got to the puck. Hawks pulled a goal back with a goal on the resultant power play when Lee Pollitt fed Adam Barnes and a neat flick found the net for his hat trick goal on 41.23 to make the score 4-6. Steeldogs went up a gear for the rest of the period and a battle-weary Hawk were hanging on. Hawks made a few chances as the game wound down and had the puck in the net in the last minute but the goal was washed out as the puck hit Stone’s face mask. The Steeldogs scored the final goal of the night when Brownley scored his 3rd goal of the evening into the empty net as Hawks pulled Trapans for the extra out skater.
Another great effort from a Hawks team who never gave up but lost out to a powerful display of finishing by the Steeldogs.
Hawks Man of the Match went to Adam Barnes.
James Neil commented after the game: “I thought we competed well with a very good side. Their finishing was clinical but we scored a couple of good goals ourselves. We have a week off now so we will rest the weary bones and come back fighting against Hull and Nottingham in a fortnights time.”