Telford NL Tigers 6 Bristol Street Motors Solihull Barons 9
Bristol Street Motors Solihull Barons 11 Telford NL Tigers 2
The weekend saw the Bristol Street Motors Solihull Barons come face to face with league runners-up the Telford Tigers at home and away, with the Barons taking both games, one by a much closer margin than the other.
On Saturday, the Barons made the short trip up to Shropshire and found themselves in the unfamiliar position of being 2-0 down after 15 minutes.
Two Barons goals within two minutes from Tom Soar and captain Rob Eley would, however, see the sides head to the dressing room evenly matched.
The second period would be a reversal of this, the Barons eking out a two-goal advantage only to be pegged back to 4-4 by the period end.
Only in the final period did the Barons stretch their legs with five goals.
Josh Bruce collected a pair alongside singles from Tom Soar, Joe Henry and Erik Bakalar in one of his final games before retirement.
The Tigers scored twice but it was too late and the Barons took both points home with them.
On Sunday, the Barons faced the Tigers once more but this time on home ice.
The Barons started with intent – Jake Larkin being fed the puck by Tom Soar from behind the net for the Barons’ opener after just over a minute.
Dave Rogers then doubled the lead with a tap-in from short range after three minutes.
Just shy of nine minutes, Tom Soar found himself gifted the puck in the Tigers’ end and carefully teed up his shot before putting the puck in the Telford net for Barons’ third goal.
An early timeout by the Tigers seemed to produce a more solid defensive display by the Telford side and their occasional forward runs were rewarded by the league’s top points scorer James Smith making the most of a short-range pass from the back boards to keep the Tigers in contention at the period end.
The second period saw the Barons take full control, converting pressure into goals for Rich Slater, Tom Soar, Tomas Janak, Jake Larkin and Josh Bruce, leaving the Barons in a commanding 8-1 lead going into the final period.
The final period saw further goals for the Barons, Rob Eley knocking in his own rebound, a minute in.
The Tigers pulled one back after five minutes through Bradley Betteridge, but this was almost immediately countered by the Barons’ Andy Whitehouse. A Josh Bruce effort rounded things off for the Barons for a surprisingly comfortable 11-2 victory.
The Barons now wrap up their league season with an away tie against the Nottingham Lions on Sunday.
The following weekend, Easter, the play-off tournament comes to Solihull, with the Barons aiming for more silverware.
Solihull’s semi-final against the Widnes Wild is on Easter Saturday, April 4, at 6.30pm and, with the Cheshire side likely to bring a squad of committed players and a bus-load of passionate supporters, a great tie is in prospect.
The following night the Sheffield Senators and Telford Tigers clash in the second semi-final, with the final on Easter Monday.