TWO wins in as many days helped Solihull Barons cut the gap on the top two in the Moralee Division last weekend.
A 7-5 victory away to fourth-placed Sutton Sting on Saturday’s was followed by Sunday’s impressive 9-6 win over leaders Solway Sharks.
Phil Mulcahy chalked his name on the scoresheet just 44 seconds into Barons’ away fixture at Sutton, with Niklas Ottosson following suit 30 seconds later.
Then, seven minutes and three seconds into the game, Rich Crowe made it three with a powerplay goal to further rub salt in the Sting’s wound.
Sutton managed to draw themselves back into contention thanks to Ryan Johnson (18.56) and David Pyatt (19.59) goals at the end of the first period, before scoring a further three at the start of the second to stun the visitors.
Drawing level through Jamie Scott (20.38), Adrian Palak (21.29) and Andrew Hirst (24.12) completed the remarkable fightback to leave Solihull bewildered.
A second goal for Mulcahy (25.02) less than a minute later was decisive and allowed Richard Slater (34.45) to restore parity heading into the final period.
Fortunately for the Barons, the encounter tipped back in their favour in the last 20 when a powerplay goal from Tom Soar (55.52) and a second from Ottosson (59.58) finally decided an enthralling encounter.
A similar encounter was played at Hobs Moat Road the following day, with Peter Gapa first to strike at 3.01 for the Sharks.
Just as Sutton had done to them the previous night, five unanswered goals from Solihull tipped the game massively in the hosts’ favour.
First, quickfire goals from Adie Brittle (5.33) and Ottosson (5.59) provided the perfect response to going behind.
Then, Soar (7.13), a second of the game for Ottosson (8.39) and one from Mulcahy (19.48) put the Barons 5-1 up after the first period.
Whatever team talk Solway head coach James Jackson gave at the break certainly worked a treat, as four goals for the visitors in a one-sided half left the game in the balance again.
Struan Tonnar (21.21) led the way for teammates Gapa (25.36 and 27.19) and Scott Crane (32.13) to also strike past Sam Hewitt and create a winner-takes-all scenario in the final period.
Paul Stanley (49.17) made a breakthrough with just over ten minutes remaining for the Barons, while Soar (52.34) fired between the legs of Gary Russell to send Barons within touching distance of the victory.
An Ewan Anderson goal (54.32) for the Sharks indicated the match was far from settled, although Matthew Maurice (56.09) and Stanley (57.05) made sure of the win.
Barons now sit on 20 points behind second-placed Whitley Warriors (25 points) having played a game more, and six points behind Solway with two games in hand on the leaders.
A Midlands Cup semi-final now awaits at home to Nottingham Lions on Sunday (5.30pm), with the winner taking on either Sutton Sting or Blackburn Hawks in the final.