The HAWKS remain in the hunt for the NIHL Moralee league crown despite a setback against leaders Solway Sharks.
Blackburn made the journey north hoping to continue their winning streak to 10 games after a dramatic rise up the table that began with a victory over Billingham in mid-December.
But the free-scoring Hawks were to taste defeat for the first time this year as a full-blooded contest ended with a late Pavol Melichercik goal and 1-0 victory for the home side.
Both teams were able to generate numerous chances in front of goal as the action moved at speed from one end of the ice to the other. Blackburn’s Daniel Brittle and Solway’s Gary Russell faced shot after shot, denying each in turn and keeping the game at a nervous deadlock until deep into the third period.
However, with many expecting the game to end in a rare scoreless draw, Solway finally found a way past Brittle five minutes from time.
Speaking to the Lancashire Telegraph, Hawks captain Chris Arnone said: “We always knew Saturday at Solway was going to be tight with not many goals, although I don’t think many would have predicted such a low scoring game.
“Solway were as good as we expected – they’re top of the league for a reason – and they will feel their slender win was deserved. But it could so easily have gone our way, and on another day it might have done.”
The Hawks were back in action on home ice on Sunday as they faced local rivals Manchester Minotaurs, and Jared Owen’s side were keen to recover from the previous evening’s setback.
Blackburn were quick to make their mark as Adam Brittle found the net in the fifth minute, followed quickly by captain Chris Arnone.
The Hawks continued to threaten the Manchester goal, keeping up a furious pace that had the visiting side chasing shadows in their own defensive zone. Jared Owen would cap off a dominant first 20 to give the Hawks a 3-0 advantage.
The second period saw the home side ease the tempo slightly, and the visitors were able to reduce the deficit to two before Daniel MacKreil restored his side’s lead.
The Minotaurs were able to double their tally in the third period but the Hawks seemed content to control the contest to it’s conclusion and secure the two points.
The Hawks are back in action this Sunday against the Sheffield Spartans.
(Photos by John Milton – togger.co.uk)