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Top four finish for Solway Sharks

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By Benjamin Johnstone
Top four finish for Solway Sharks

SOLWAY Sharks have completed their regular fixtures in the National Ice Hockey League North One Moralee Conference, in what has been a fascinating season

The Sharks finished fourth in this campaign just like they did in the 2017/2018 season, but progress has been made in a number of categories, notably achieving more points and scoring more goals. Their expanding attacking style has seen the Sharks score over 200 goals in their 36 games, but has also resulted in a leaky defence by conceding 147 goals – which is 49 worse than each of the top three teams.

Solway Sharks captain Struan Tonnar said: “We added a lot more offence in the off-season this year and we brought in a new goaltender. So we have had those three goaltenders rotating.”

During the season there has been some fantastic results, including beating a number of sides very comprehensively, along with challenging the top three. Listing his highlights, coach Jamie Thompson said: “Winning and competing against Hull, Sheffield and Telford, the teams above us. We have managed to take points off all of them this season.” “These teams have four to five times the financial budget we have.” The financial landscape between the top three and Solway is a constant battle for the Dumfries side, especially when trying to win silverware. A run to the semi-finals of the North Cup was ended by Telford Tigers 8-6 over a two legged tie. Play-off heartbreak brought an end to the season, 12 months ago when losing to Solihull Barons 7-9 at the quarter finals stage. Solway will be hoping to progress further this time round when the play-offs begin against Whitley Warriors this Saturday night. Prior to the play-offs beginning, the Sharks had one final home fixture to finish their regular season and had the huge task of facing Sheffield Steeldogs at the Ice Bowl last weekend. Sharks went into the game having lost four of the five meetings to date, with their only victory coming courtesy of a 6-4 win in the North Cup group stages. And, Sheffield were on course to secure the league title by winning their final two games of the regular season. They proved to be in irresistible form and beat Solway comfortably by eight goals to three. Sharks head coach Martin Grubb said: “I thought it was a tough game for us. “First period we came out and played pretty solid. “That second period we are still searching for answers, because I thought it was one of the worst periods of hockey we have played this season.”

Looking ahead, Grubb hopes his team can cause a few upsets and finish the season in style, by reaching the finals in Coventry and lifting silverware.

He also pointed to the talent coming through at grassroots level, with youngsters Lewis Houston and Ben Coughtrie having represented Great Britain at under 18s and 20s team respectively.

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