BLACKBURN Hawks lost a 3-0 lead in controversial fashion as they were beaten 4-3 by Solway Sharks in their opening Northern Cup game at Blackburn Arena.
It was a battle against the ‘Auld Enemy’ for Hawks, with Solway travelling from Dumfries in Scotland for the fixture – the first group match in the competition.
Hawks were missing a number of regulars, with Jordan Bannon, Lance Derbyshire and Dan Mackriel not involved, while Danny Brittle also took his place in the stands to allow back-up netminder Stuart Ashton the opportunity for some match time.
A fast start by the Hawks saw them catch their opponents cold as they took the lead within the opening 30 seconds.
The puck was dumped around the Solway goal and collected by Robbie Summers, whose shot from the left tested Gary Russell.
Jordan Ashington pounced on the deflection and, although he was unlucky to be denied, Myles Dacres kept his composure to fire home from a tight angle.
That stunned the Sharks into life. The speed and movement of the Scottish outfit afforded them several good opportunities, but a combination of resolute defending and competent netminding main-tained the Hawks’ lead.
And it was 2-0 when precise passing saw the puck arrive at the feet of Rick Ravey just outside the crease, and his deflected shot looped over the shoulder of Russell and into the net.
The second period was less than two minutes old when the Hawks found the net once again.
The industrious Summers took the puck out of defence, and tried his luck from close in. Russell saved well, but the prolific David Meikle was on hand to score the rebound.
Hawks fans could hardly believe the 3-0 scoreline but the match was to turn on its head.
The referee angered the hosts with a number of decisions and, with Chris Arnone penalised for hooking, Adam Reynolds pulled one back during the power play despite protests of a cross-check on Ashton.
Four minutes later and the Sharks were right back in the match as Ollie Lomax mistimed a check on the boards and Solway were able to literally walk the puck into the net.
Further controversial decisions gave the visitors a five-on-three, from which they levelled the game, with feelings running high in the arena.
With only 90 seconds of the match remaining, Arnone was penalised for cross-checking and Solway used the power play to claim victory.
Reynolds collected the puck on the left-hand side of the offensive zone, and managed to sneak his shot between the post and pad, from the most acute of angles.