BLACKBURN Hawks have secured their best league finish since 1996 despite losing at home to Solway Sharks on Sunday.
Hawks were beaten 4-2 at the Blackburn Arena by the runaway champions of the Moralee Conference.
But results elsewhere ensured that Hawks will finish second.
Hawks won the play-offs a year ago but finished only fourth during the regular season.
Hawks fell behind after only three minutes against Solway, who found the net through Stevie Moore. The same player made it 2-0 only two minutes later, but Adam Brittle pulled a goal back in the 14th minute. Solway scored again through Struan Tonnar to led 3-1 at the end of the first period, but Brittle’s second of the match gave Hawks hope during the second period.
That hope was extinguished, though, as Canadian import Jon Adams was sent off for misconduct after throwing his gloves, helmet and the contents of rubbish bin. Solway’s James Wallace added a fourth goal with four minutes left to seal victory.
Hawks play their final league fixture at Sutton Sting on Sunday at 4.30pm, with the play-offs taking place in Dumfries on the weekend of April 12 and 13.
Before then Hawks travel to face Solway again on March 22 in their last group game in the NLN Cup.
Hawks currently lead the group but are likely to need victory over Solway to confirm top spot.