IT WAS a mixed weekend for Blackburn Hawks as they went down 9-6 to Sutton Sting at home on Saturday before bouncing back to win 6-3 at Nottingham Lions the following day.

Victory over the winless Lions has all but confirmed the Hawks spot in the end of season play-offs which included the top six of the seven team Moralee North One division.

On Saturday, there was another bumper turnout at Blackburn Arena where Sutton Sting drew first blood when Charlie Saunders opened the scoring.

The Hawks soon hit back and equalised through all-time leading scorer Aaron Davies before taking the lead through import Petr Valusiak as the home side took advantage of a power play after Sutton’s Stanislav Lascek sat out a two minute penalty for slashing.

In a thrilling opening period, Lloyd Gibson levelled for Sutton only for Hawks to regain the lead with a cracking goal from head coach James Neil.

Sutton just wouldn’t let the Hawks get away and made it 3-3 thanks to Lascek but it was the Hawks who took the lead into the second period with Valusiak’s second goal of the evening.

The game remained fiercely competitive in the second period between fairly evenly matched sides.

But unlike the first period, there was only one goal scored by the visitors’ Thomas Relf to make it all square and leave it all to play for in the third period.

And it was a thrill a minute as Sutton pushed on from their second period form to score three times through Adrian Palak (2) and Andrew Hirst with no reply from the Hawks.

The Hawks pinched one back as Valusiak completed his hat-trick goal but the Sting were solid in defence and fast on the break to claim two further goals from Cameron Glasby and Lascek before Valusiak scored his fourth late on.

The Hawks travelled to Nottingham short benched and were made to work hard against a team who have yet to win this season.

Two goals from Louie Newell put the Lions 2-0 up but the Hawks pulled two goals back in the last two minutes of the period, through Davies and Valusiak.

There wasn’t much to choose between the two sides in the second period where all three goals were scored in the opening 10 minutes – Neil and James Riddoch for the Hawks and Owen Davis.

The final 20 minutes of play made for an entertaining period of hockey to complete an action-packed game with numerous chances at both ends of the ice.

The Lions were unable to convert any of their chances though in the face of some great defending and net minding at the back from the Hawks.

But it was a different story at the other goalline as Hawks crossed it twice with the puck extending their lead and sealing the win thanks to a powerplay goal from Davies after the Lions went down to three men, and an even handed goal from Valusiak, ensuring that the Hawks and their proud faithful fans made the journey back to Lancashire with the two points.

The Hawks remain sixth on 13 points but are a point behind Billingham Stars with three games in hand.

They have a tough trip to Dumfries on Saturday to take on second-placed Solway Sharks before returning to East Lancashire to host the Nottigham Lions on Sunday in a quick return fixture.