Sunday 12th March – Moralee Division
Solway Sharks 9 – YKK Widnes Wild 1
The YKK sponsored Widnes Wild picked up their second heavy road loss in a row with a 9-1 defeat away to Solway Sharks in Dumfries on Sunday.
Sharks home games are usually staged on Saturday evenings but this fixture had been moved because the league title favourites were also involved in the final of the Moralee Cup at the weekend, with a two-legged tie against Billingham Stars being played on Friday and Saturday.
Widnes had already played Solway 5 times this season so far – three times in the league and twice in the cup semi final - and had yet to win a match. They did, however, take the Sharks to overtime in a narrow 3-4 home defeat back in December, after having led until the very last seconds of the game, and may well have felt that taking on a team who had already played two tough games in two days might have represented a golden opportunity to finally pick up a result.
Unfortunately this plan did not come to fruition. The Sharks secured the Moralee Cup by winning on penalty shots in Billingham on Saturday night and also won the Moralee Division league title at the same time after nearest challengers Whitley Warriors lost their game away at Deeside which meant that they could no longer catch the Scottish team on points – all of which left the Dumfries side in a buoyant mood for the visit of the Wild.
Solway started much the stronger team on Sunday and outshot the Wild by 24 to 4 in the first period. They took the lead with a powerplay goal after 5 minutes of play and doubled the advantage on 15 minutes with a short handed goal. A third strike with just 8 seconds left in the period saw the hosts leading 3-0 at the first break.
Widnes had a much better second, creating more chances of their own and doing a better job of keeping the Solway attack at bay. The shots tally for the period was 19 to 13 - still in the Sharks’ favour - but it was the Wild who were the first to find the net with a goal from Jonathan Williamson in the 24th minute.
Unfortunately, this breakthrough didn’t really spark much of a Widnes fightback but it took until the 30th minute for Solway to break down the dogged Wild defence. Another goal on 37 minutes saw the Sharks leading 5-1 after two periods and it was becoming clear that it was not going to be the Wild’s night.
The third period was pretty much all Solway as they fired in an eye-watering 39 shots on Miles Finney’s net, as opposed to 6 at the other end, and it is to Finney’s great credit that he was only beaten 4 more times during this onslaught and turned away 35 of the shots that he faced, otherwise the score might have been considerably higher.
The Sharks edged 6-1 ahead just 90 seconds into the period and two further goals gave them a comprehensive lead. A last strike with just 17 seconds left on the clock rounded off the scoring for the game and handed the new league champions an impressive record of 6 wins from 6 games against the Wild for the season.
The Wild have two more league fixtures to play in the regular season – away to Blackburn this Sunday 19th March, 6pm face off, and at home to Solihull Barons on Saturday 25th March at Planet Ice Widnes (7pm).