Russell provides platform for thrilling Solway comeback at Whitley

Solway Sharks’ head coach Martin Grubb praised his team’s resilience after they recovered from a three-goal deficit to beat Whitley Warriors in the NIHL North Cup on Sunday.

The Sharks’ undefeated record in the competition looked in serious danger as goals by Phil Edgar (2) and Craig Johnson gave the Warriors a 3-0 lead at the first break.

However, Jaakko Heiskanen, Scott Henderson and Peter Gapa hit back for the visitors to send the game to overtime.

With neither side able to find a goal during the extra session, it was left to Heiskanen to settle things with the decisive strike in the penalty shoot-out.

Grubb said: “Whitley is the toughest away rink in the league and we started very poorly. We put ourselves behind the eight-ball after a 3-0 first period and had Gary Russell (above) to thank for keeping us in the game.

“We said at the first intermission that we needed to win two periods of hockey to give ourselves a chance to take something out the game and we slowly clawed our way back into it.

“With a 3-1 deficit going into the last period I told the players if we scored first then we would win the game as I know we have the character, ability and determination to be able to come back like that.

“When we got to 3-3 we tried to push for a regulation win, but the Warriors are a good team and we had to remain patient and found a way to get the extra point in the shoot-out.

“I was very pleased with our shoot-out goals, with Iain (Bowie), Peter and Jaakko showing how good they are in that situation – it was nice to take both points.”

(Image permission: Ian Coyle)