‘Rays si­lence Thun­der

Dumfries & Galloway Standard - - HARDROCK CHALLENGE -

Sol­way Stingrays hosted near­est ri­vals Kil­marnock Thun­der in their fi­nal home con­fer­ence game of the pre­sea­son Stu­art Robert­son Cup on Sun­day night.

Hav­ing been com­pre­hen­sively beaten by Thun­der in the away fix­ture five weeks ago, the Stingrays were ea­ger to show how much the last month or so has brought in terms of fit­ness, sharp­ness and fur­ther ad­di­tions to the squad.

The game started very pos­i­tively for the Stingrays who im­me­di­ately put pres­sure on former Sol­way Sharks goalie Mal­colm An­der­son in the Thun­der net, un­til St­ingray’s cap­tain Mark Duffy and Gary Car­ruth both took penal­ties, pre­sent­ing Thun­der the op­por­tu­nity to ap­ply pres­sure with a five-on­three pow­er­play ad­van­tage.

The St­ingray’s penalty kill units, an­chored by some good saves by their own former Shark goalie Chris Rae, worked well to en­sure that the ad­van­tage gave Thun­der no re­ward, be­fore al­low­ing the game to get back to even num­bers.

The Stingrays swiftly re­sumed their con­trol of the puck and dic­tated the pace of the play.

The pres­sure paid div­i­dends as St­ingray’s Jamie Kerr picked out Kieran Hair on the out­side right of the Thun­der zone. Hair in turn zip­ping the puck to fel­low young­ster Ruairi Locker­bie who had found space in the high slot, and he dis­patched a well-ex­e­cuted snap shot into the net to open the scor­ing.

Stingrays went on to spend good phases of play in the Thun­der zone but couldn’t find a way past an in­spired An­der­son in net. A slash­ing call against St­ingray’s Ben Coughtrie al­lowed Thun­der an­other chance to crowd the St­ingray’s net and some neat pass­ing from Chris McCormick and El­liot Young al­lowed Ewan An­der­son a back post tap in to tie the game at one apiece go­ing into the first break.

A more fo­cused and de­ter­mined Stingrays team took to the ice for pe­riod two.

Locker­bie and Luke Hous­ton worked the puck to Ste­vie Adams, the Ul­ster­man show­ing com­po­sure to strike home and re­take the lead for the home team.

This opened the flood­gates as the Stingrays play be­came far smoother and the chem­istry within the lines and odd power play unit be­gan to click. A fiveon-three pow­er­play gave the Stingrays a chance to take ad­van­tage of their mo­men­tum.

Kerr’s low driven pass­come shot was cutely con­trolled by Gor­don Horne and he drew An­der­son out of the net be­fore slot­ting past him for a 3-1 Stingrays lead.

Horne then be­came provider, a good pow­er­play spell see­ing him ping the puck to Hous­ton who had sneaked in at the back post to one time the puck home giv­ing the Stingrays a healthy 4-1 lead head­ing into the fi­nal pe­riod.

Chris Rae gave way to Grant Scott in the Stingrays goal for the last pe­riod, and with the home team’s mo­men­tum con­tin­u­ing from the off the Horne, Locker­bie and Adam’s line com­bined again with the lat­ter slot­ting St­ingray’s fifth goal. An­other five-on-three pow­er­play saw Horne pick up his third as­sist of the night when he sent Adams into the slot, and his back­hand found the net un­der the arm of An­der­son.

A spo­radic Thun­der counter saw a loose puck shot from the slot mid­way through the pe­riod. With St­ingray’s Ar­ran Shank­land, Kerr and goalie Scott sprawl­ing to suc­cess­fully block, an awk­ward tweak to Scott’s an­kle saw him es­corted from the ice.

Chris Rae was re­called be­tween the pipes for the last half of the pe­riod.

Horne, for his fifth point of the night notched an­other goal when a good flow­ing counter saw Hous­ton and Adams move the puck well to Horne who again waited for An­der­son to com­mit be­fore mak­ing the game 7-1. The Stingrays played out the rest of the game in what proved to be an­other step to­wards bet­ter things to come.

Man of the Match went to Mal­colm An­der­son of the Thun­der and Jay Maxwell of the Stingrays. Sol­way Stingrays are back on home ice this Sun­day when they face the Dundee Comets. Face off is 5.30pm.

Jay Maxwell, Stingrays

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