The Motor Nation Solihull Barons stepped onto the ice on Sunday evening knowing that their only rivals for the Laidler Conference, the Deeside Dragons, had dropped a point the previous evening and the Championship, while not quite winnable that night, was within touching distance.
Hull sides, however, whether in Stingrays or Jets guise, have consistently shown themselves as hard-working and capable of upsetting the unwary and this was very much reflected in the first period.
While the first 20 minutes was played largely in the Jets end, the Barons struggled to convert pressure into goals.
Strong defensive play by the Jets to clear their zone coupled with somewhat scruffy Barons play in front of the net saw passes through the crease missed and shots tending to find the goalie rather than the net.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 17th minute, Tomas Janak finding Joe Henry on the back post who took his time to find space around the Hull net minder’s glove hand for the Barons’ first goal of the evening.
The second period saw the Barons begin to get the better of the Jets. The 24th minute saw Phil Knight shoot a speculative effort in from the half-boards which found its way through traffic and into the Jets net much to the delight of the experienced defenceman.
This then triggered a flurry of goals from Solihull, Rich Slater converting from close in, Kieran Papps with a longer range effort and Jake Larkin breaking away to loft the puck over the sprawling Hull goalie.
The best goal of the period however was a solo effort from Ryan Selwood during a period of four-on-four play, the defenceman making the most of the extra space to take the puck from behind the Barons net, up the length of the ice and into the net for Solihull’s sixth.
The period was rounded off as Josh Bruce found the net with two minutes to go leaving the Barons firmly in charge. The final period saw the Barons make the most of chances offered up by the tiring Jets.
Rich Slater got goal number eight in the 48th minute while it was left to captain Rob Eley to get number nine, using his big frame to protect the puck before converting for Solihull’s 200th goal of the season. The goals continued to mount up for the Barons, Josh Bruce, Tomas Janak and Joe Henry adding to the tally before Connor Hubbuck fired a scorcher as he skated through the blue line for the Barons’ 13th and final goal of the evening.
On Sunday, the Barons make the short trip along the A45 to Coventry to take on the National League Blaze.
A large travelling support from Solihull is expected to follow the team knowing victory, or even a draw, will clinch the Laidler Conference for the Barons.
The team then have a tricky away weekend with visits to Hull and Widnes before returning to Hobs Moat on March 30 for the final league game of the season against the Deeside Dragons, face-off 6pm.