The Blackburn HAWKS were unable to capitalise on a string of chances, having come from behind on three occasions away to Sheffield.
The Spartans began brightly with captain Ollie Baron latching onto a pass from Stuart Brittle to open the scoring. But the even nature of the contest was telling when the eye-catching combination of Canadian import Jon Adams and Adam Brittle restored parity before the end of the period.
The Hawks continued to threaten, with a number of chances ably turned away by the Sheffield netminder. But the home side would double their tally through S.Brittle’s powerplay goal to into the break 2-1 up.
With the game still very much in the balance Lancastrians were keen to make an impact early in the third. Jake Nurse did just that. With only and a half minute on the clock, the former Manchester captain found space from MacKriel’s pass to bring his side level and lift the travelling support to its feet.
But once again, Blackburn’s momentum was not to last – just five minutes later Sheffield had regained the lead through Nick Whyatt.
In an increasingly physical contest, the Hawks went in search of the tying goal – and Daniel MacKriel duly obliged on 49 minutes, with an individual effort that reflected his side’s effort. With the two points now in sight, Hawks began to turn up the tempo. The Sheffield netminder was certainly the busiest of the two as the seconds ticked down, but an inability to finish a number of good opportunities saw the game end in a 3-3 draw.
But more was to come. Reece Cairney Witter, having fired a shot at net on the final buzzer, found himself on the end of a Sheffield player’s cross check. As the officials tried to separate the two, Stones in the Sheffield net skated to the aid of his teammate, only to be intercepted by Blackburn’s Daniel Brittle.
In a rare clash of the goalies, the Blackburn man got the better of his counterpart, landing a number of good shots.
The resulting melee gave officials a significant headache – 144 penalty minutes that took well into the night to add to the match report. Reece Cairney Witter will sit out a number of games through suspension and Brittle will have to wait to hear his fate. The Hawks will know the full extent of any disciplinary action later this week.
Speaking to the Lancashire Telegraph, Hawks captain Chris Arnone said: “We have four league games left and we haven’t confirmed our place in the play-offs yet, so we want to do that.
“The Sheffield game was a tough one because the week before they had gone to Scotland and got a point at Solway, before beating Manchester Minotaurs on the Sunday.
“They were on a high, then, and we knew the game was going to be difficult. We were short of a couple of bodies but we’re not making excuses.
“We probably had the better of possession and chances, we just couldn’t convert our opportunities. We didn’t play badly, and there’s certainly no shame in going there and getting a draw.”
(Photos by John Milton – togger.co.uk)