Jon Adams and player-coach Jared Owen both scored hat-tricks against Telford Titans to fire Blackburn Hawks into second spot in the National Ice Hockey League Moralee Conference.
Their stay was short lived however, with Sutton Sting and Billingham Stars both winning their league games on Sunday and leapfrogging Hawks, who were on cup duty.
But Saturday’s result leaves Blackburn in a good position for a late charge for the top two, providing they can use their games in hand over Billingham and Sutton, who sit second and third respectively.
Many had expected the Hawks would have an easy ride away to Telford in their first game of a double-header weekend, having comfortably beaten them 16-1 earlier in the season.
But they were in for a shock as a much-improved Titans line-up recovered from an early 3-0 defeat to lead 5-4 in the second period.
Hawks were stunned into life and Canadian import Adams completed a quickfire treble, before Owen also claimed a hat-trick with the final goal in a 10-6 win.
Other scorers were Dan Mackriel, Aaron Davies and Adam Brittle, who scored two.
Sunday’s cup win was a more convincing one over Manchester Minotaurs, with the second period being the busiest of the three.
Going in 1-0 up thanks to Rick Ravey’s fourth minute goal, Ric Hughes doubled the lead early in the second before Adams scored either side of a David Meikle double.
Manchester managed to pull a goal back but Ivo Dimitrijevs completed a 6-1 win and cemented the Hawks’ position atop the North Cup table, all but assuring their appearance in the final which will take place in April.
Speaking to the Lancashire Telegraph, Hawks captain Chris Arnone, who missed the weekend’s games through suspension, said:
“The momentum is with both of us but we can only concentrate on what we do and another four-point weekend in league and cup was well deserved.
“We continue to challenge on two fronts too, being top of the table in the cup and a good win over Manchester Minotaurs under our belts.
“Our win on Saturday lifted us to second spot, albeit briefly. But it just goes to show the gaps between the teams are getting tighter so we cannot afford any slip-ups.
“We are doing what player-coach Jared Owen wants us to – scoring goals and defending quite well. In conceding the least goals and scoring the most we have created a recipe for success in the second half of the season.
“But we will have a test of our mettle this weekend, with the visit of Sutton Sting. Something might have to give, so it could all come down to whoever holds their nerve the best.”
Images by John Milton (Togger.co.uk)