Coventry NL Blaze 4 Solihull Barons 16; Hull Jets 4 Barons 7
The Bristol Street Motors Solihull Barons clinched the Laidler Division title in style with a dominant performance against A45 derby rivals, the Coventry Blaze, on Saturday evening, part of a six-point weekend.
While few would have predicted an upset in the Coventry tie, it took a while for the Barons to settle and it was approaching the seventh minute before Tom Soar got the opener off an assist by linemate Niklas Ottosson. Around five minutes later and Joe Henry had added number two for the Barons, making the most of a powerplay opportunity.
A late first-period goal by the Blaze’s Matt Maurice saw things fairly evenly balanced as the sides headed to the dressing room with the Barons holding a 2-1 advantage.
The second period would, however, see the Barons hit their scoring stride with eight goals in the second 20, Josh Bruce, Perry Doyle and Andy Whitehouse among the scorers, as the Solihull team peppered Blaze netminder Graham Laverick’s goal.
The Blaze countered with two further goals by Maurice but the game was now running away from the Coventry side.
The final period saw the Barons continue to torment Coventry with a further six goals, Jake Larkin completing a hat-trick, with Tomas Janak rounding off the scoring.
The Blaze would get a consolation goal but really the night had been all about the Barons and their dominance of the league.
Sunday saw the Barons travel to Humberside to take on the Hull Jets in a double-point game.
It was slightly sluggish start for the new league champions with only a single-goal advantage and a 4-3 scoreline after the first two periods of the game.
The highlight was a brace of goals from Swedish import Niklas Ottosson, the first of which notched up an incredible 300 goals for the Barons’ squad this season.
By the final period the Barons had started to find some form, with further goals including the completion of his hat-trick by Ottosson to end the game with a relatively comfortable 7-4 margin.
Next week the Barons have a tricky double-header, travelling to league runner-ups the Telford Tigers on Saturday, before welcoming the Tigers to Solihull the following evening.
While league positions are no longer in doubt, pride will be at stake as the two sides go for the psychological advantage going into the Easter weekend play-offs.