A weekend double-header with Nottinghamshire based Sutton Sting produced both a win and a defeat for the Blackburn HAWKS who dropped to sixth position in the NIHL Moralee Conference.
Saturday’s home leg saw the debut of recent Canadian signing Jon Adams as well as the return of Latvian import Ivo Dimitrijevs who had been absent for a number of weeks with a stomach condition. Youngster James Riddoch was also given his Hawks debut having been called up from the Blackburn Eagles squad mid-week.
The encounter was given extra spice with former Blackburn players Bobby Streetly and Myles Dacres making their first visit to the Arena in Sting colours.
A relatively even exchange of chances early in the game were ably turned away by Sutton’s Bagshaw and Stuart Ashton who started ahead of Danny Brittle in the Blackburn net, with the young Hawk getting a thorough work-out throughout the first period.
Tempers flared early when contact between Aaron Davies and Myles Dacres created a melee in front of the team benches. Reece Cairney-Witter’s intervention proved an unusually calming influence on his former team-mate and avoided any further confrontation.
The Hawks were left a man short as Davies served a penalty and he was soon joined by defenceman Ollie Lomax with the Lancastrians fortunate to go without conceding a goal.
Ultimately it would be the home-side who would strike first with Scott Robson unleashing a hard slapshot with the Sutton netminder unsighted.
The Hawks found themselves serving a second lengthy penalty early in the second period as Lomax returned to the box only to see the visitors seize their opportunity to force the puck past Ashton and bring the game level. This was not to last however as only minutes later Aaron Davies found the net as the puck came loose from a battle along the boards.
A delay to replace a smashed plexi-glass panel provided both sides with ample time to recharge and it was the home-side who found the better form following the restart, but a combination of solid goaltending and near misses kept the score at 2-1 heading into the third period.
A frustrating final 20 minutes for the Hawks opened with an early equaliser as Sutton began to cause problems on the counter-attack. The game descended into a largely scrappy contest interrupted by a number of penalty calls which seemed to go against the home-side more than the visitors.
Blackburn were to leave it late to find their winning goal when débutante Jon Adams broke free to deliver a classy finish one-on-one and seal a nail-biting result.
The following evening, fortune failed to smile on the travelling team as Sutton handed the Hawks a 5-1 defeat, three of the home-side’s goals coming in the first period.
Jon Adams’ second goal in two games was a one of few solitary highlights as Blackburn were often outplayed by their opposition who jumped to fifth in the table on the back of a solid display.
Speaking the Lancashire Telegraph, Hawks captain Chris Arnone said: “Not for the first time this season we just weren’t at it, so we must make sure it’s the last time.
“Momentum is easier to sustain than it is to build so we must get on a run and not keep switching off like we have done a number of times this season and suffer the consequences.
“We’re trying to clamp down on the penalties we are taking because there are too many and we are putting ourselves under pressure; teams are punishing us on the power play.
“They scored three goals in the first period and we gave ourselves an absolute mountain to climb. It’s one to learn from ahead of this Sunday’s trip to Whitley Bay.”