WITH the sides’ NIHLN1 league positions more or less decided, Sunday’s clash between TC Cars Solihull Barons and Solway Sharks may not have been too much about the points.
However, with the teams due to match up in the first round of the play-offs, the Barons’ 5-3 win may prove psychologically crucial.
It would be the Barons’ Marcus Maynard who would be the first to find the net a little shy of the first-period five-minute mark after the Solihull No.3 shot a long distance effort through traffic for the opener.
A little over a minute later and the home side had doubled their advantage, Luke Brittle taking time on the powerplay to place his shot deftly in the space to the left of Calum Hepburn in the Solway net.
The visitors were quickly back on the counter and a rapid break up the ice by Solway saw Jordan Buesa and Joe Coulter combine for the Sharks’ first taste of the Barons net.
The remainder of the first period would be finely balanced with both sides playing a positive attacking game but with no further scoring.
Into the second and the sides continued to trade attacks but again neither was able to translate offence into goals.
With three minutes of the period to go and the Barons on the penalty kill, it would be Solihull who found the net as Tom Soar robbed the Sharks of the puck in the Barons end and raced up the ice, before skating across goal and slipping the puck deep into the net.
Two minutes later and Niklas Ottosson would get the Barons’ fourth goal with a delicate backhander to round Hepburn’s outstretched leg.
If the Barons intentions had been to sit on their three-goal cushion and see out the final period, the Sharks clearly had other ideas.
The visitors’ Ross Murray snatched the puck through Josh Nicholl’s five-hole direct off a Struan Tonnar face-off win two minutes into the period.
Less than a minute later and the Sharks’ Marek Charvat got Solway’s goal number three with a blue-line bullet from the left-hand boards, leaving the Barons’ comfortable cushion looking far less sturdy than it had been.
For much of the rest of the final period the Barons struggled to get the puck out of their own end as the Sharks pushed for the equaliser but, with the clock ticking down, Soar sneaked goal number five for Solihull to confirm the win and slightly tilt the psychological odds ahead of the play-offs against the Scottish side in a fortnight.
The Barons conclude their league fixture list on Sunday (6pm) when they welcome Blackburn Hawks to Planet Ice Solihull.