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Regular season ended with a four-point weekend (31st March 2024)

By 01/04/2024No Comments

Matty Davies’ Hull Seahawks ended the regular season on a high with a four- point weekend secured from wins against Solway Sharks and Leeds Knights. The Seahawks suffered defeat earlier in the week in the second-leg of the National Cup Final, but picked themselves up in time for the weekend with two important games that required two solid performances in order to gain momentum for the upcoming playoff fixtures.

Hull will face Yorkshire rivals and league champions Leeds Knights next weekend in the first of three weekends of playoff hockey as they look to book their place in Coventry. This weekend was a good encounter to not only bounce back, but to prove once again that they are a force to be reckoned with.

Solway Sharks 3-8 Hull Seahawks
The weekend was off to the perfect start with a win on the road over the Solway Sharks. The Seahawks had a four-goal advantage heading into the second period with #24 Brock Bartholomew opening the scoring before #21 Bobby Chamberlain put two past the Sharks’ netminder and #17 Owen Bruton rounded off what had been a dominant opening 20-minutes with a shot fired into the top corner.

Solway fought back upon the restart with a goal from #22 John Dunbar and a shot from #43 Nolan Gardiner getting them within two, but #90 Dec Jones didn’t let the two-goal gap last long as he scored the Seahawks’ fifth. Taking advantage of a Hull penalty, the Sharks continued their fight back and #43 Nolan Gardiner scored his second of the night on the powerplay, but it was another quick reaction from Davies’ side, this time courtesy of Canadian import #96 Owen Sobchak who ensured the visitors had a three-goal advantage going into the third period.

#90 Dec Jones scored his brace before #71 Emil Svec put a one-timer over the shoulder of the Sharks goalie to make it eight and give Hull a deserved victory away from home.

Hull Seahawks 4-3 Leeds Knights
The Seahawks returned to the Hull Ice Arena on Easter Sunday as they hosted their Yorkshire rivals Leeds Knights in the first of three upcoming encounters. Three goals in the first period and a third period goal from #16 Sam Towner was enough to claim the two points over Ryan Aldridge’s side despite a late surge from the Knights that saw them get the game within one.

Both sides were coming into the game off the back of victories over Solway Sharks with Leeds having hosted them on Friday evening and winning by six goals to three.

It was a squad of 15+2 that iced for the home side, led out by #72 Jordan McLaughlin whilst the Knights lined-up with a squad of 18+2 opting for #31 Sam Gospel in between the pipes and missing only one player from their victory over the Sharks – #19 Innes Gallacher.

First period (3-0)
The opening five-minutes in East Yorkshire were end-to-end with both sides creating chances to test the opposing netminder, but neither settling into steady spells of possession that would allow them to open the scoring. #31 Sam Gospel was tested early by the Seahawks as he caught a shot from the left at 1:16 and was then forced into making a stretched glove save from #24 Brock Bartholomew’s shot.

The attention of fans was then quickly turned to Hull’s defensive zone as pressure from the Knights saw #91 Jake Witkowski go close with #72 Jordan McLaughlin then called upon to make a glove save as #9 Jordan Buesa set up #81 Louis Colvin.

Almost instantly, the puck was back in the Seahawks’ offensive zone as they applied the pressure to the defence of the league leaders causing Gospel to make a double pad block and a save to deny the hosts from opening the scoring.

It wasn’t until #34 Gregor Mills was sent to the penalty box having received two-minutes for holding that the puck was worked into the back of the net. Canadian import #96 Owen Sobchak took advantage of the powerplay opportunity with a shot into the top corner, assisted by #24 Brock Bartholomew and #11 Finlay Ulrick with the goal timed at 7:50.

Leeds returned to full strength and took control of possession with #91 Jake Witkowski and #12 Kieran Brown both having chances to equalise, but the Seahawks defended well and denied them. #14 Lewis Baldwin then set up the Knights’ biggest chance of the period as he played the puck across the slot to #2 James Archer who had the net wide open in front of him as #72 Jordan McLaughlin had been pulled out of position to the right, but the forward directed the puck wide.

This positive spell of possession from the visitors was then shutdown as #71 Emil Svec skated into their defensive zone alone and doubled the lead as he fired the puck past #31 Sam Gospel, assisted by #11 Finlay Ulrick for his second of the night, and #7 Tom Barry with the goal timed at 10:48.

Looking for a quick response, the Knights were back on the attack with #91 Jake Witkowski going close and #37 Matt Barron shooting wide, neither of which properly tested #72 Jordan McLaughlin. The derby duel was now well underway with both sides battling for possession. The league champions kept up the offensive pressure with #33 Finn Bradon trying to take advantage of #11 Finlay Ulrick slipping whilst with the puck, but Hull managed to prevent them from creating any grade-A chances that could damage their two-goal lead.

With four minutes of the first period left on the clock, the Seahawks worked the puck towards Gospel and searched for a third goal to make for a more comfortable second period to come – and that they did when #33 Finn Bradon sat two-minutes for tripping, giving the home side a player advantage. It was #21 Bobby Chamberlain with the one-timer on the powerplay, assisted by #71 Emil Svec bringing an incredible first period of hockey for Hull to a close with a three-goal advantage over their Yorkshire rivals.

Second period (3-1)
The Knights returned for the second period determined to get themselves on the board, but the Seahawks were level to this, coming out after the break with the fight and desire typical of a Yorkshire derby.

As was the case in the first period, neither side settled into a rhythm of possession early on and neither netminder was properly tested. It looked to be a promising start for Leeds though as they worked the puck forwards, but they lacked the finishing product when they were given an opportunity to shoot with the puck then often falling back into the grasp of a Seahawk who were working relentlessly in the neutral zone to dispossess the Knights.

A flurry of chances fell in favour of Davies’ side with #31 Sam Gospel thoroughly tested in net for Leeds as he desperately fought to prevent Hull from extending their advantage any further. Despite the persistent pressure, they couldn’t convert their chances and it remained 3-0 until #22 Jordan Fisher received a two-minute penalty for holding at 30:57 which sent the Knights on the powerplay. #41 Oli Endicott got his side on the scoreboard at 32:22 with a backhanded powerplay goal, assisted by the captain #12 Kieran Brown and American import #91 Jake Witkowski, reducing the deficit to two.

This ignited pressure from the Knights who sought to get the game within one before the end of the period, but #72 Jordan McLaughlin was equal to all of their chances and the goal from the GB U20s assistant captain would be the only goal of the period. The Seahawks kept hold of their lead but were unable to slip the puck past Gospel in the second 20-minutes instalment despite offensive pressure.

Third period (4-3)
It was a quick start to the third period for the visitors as #37 Matt Barron got them within one with only 1:41 played, assisted by #8 Bow Neely, but the home side didn’t wait long before reinstating their two-goal advantage and putting Leeds’ quick start to a stop as #16 Sam Towner tapped home from out in front to make it 4-2. #71 Emil Svec began the move before picking out #21 Bobby Chamberlain at the back door who then squared the puck to Towner to convert – the goal was timed at 43:08.

#31 Sam Gospel continued to be tested by the Seahawks as he was forced to make a pad block at 43:30 and then make another quick stop to prevent the rebound from slipping beyond him. The home side did not relieve the pressure on the Knights with the puck predominantly in their offensive zone, but there would be no more goals until the league champions broke forwards and #91 Jake Witkowski set #11 Matt Haywood up to redirect the puck past McLaughlin at 45:35, making it a one-goal game.

The Knights were back to playing the hockey their fans know and love with a newfound fight to score an equaliser, but #72 Jordan McLaughlin stood tall to deny them. #11 Matt Haywood went close to scoring his second of the night before #12 Kieran Brown was shooting at the 24-year-old – his initial shot being blocked didn’t stop the captain though as he recycled the puck before passing to Canadian import #54 Noah McMullin whose shot was also denied and he couldn’t capitalise upon the rebound as McLaughlin claimed the puck.

#12 Kieran Brown was not sparing the Seahawks’ defence a moment to lose concentration as he continued to search for a goal to bring the score level as 55:26, but his attempt to find the top corner was tipped over the net by McLaughlin with the following shot from #9 Jordan Buesa going wide.

With four minutes of the period to play, Hull were required to defend stoically as their Yorkshire rivals threw everything at them. There were few chances for the Seahawks to test Gospel as the puck remained mostly in their defensive zone, but when the chances came, it caused the Knights to retreat and start from scratch in working the puck forwards again.

Ryan Aldridge called a timeout with 1:32 to play and #31 Sam Gospel was pulled in favour of an extra skater. Whilst the Knights were unable to utilise their sixth skater to force the game to overtime, they didn’t concede an empty net goal and a battling third period of hockey was brought to an end with the Seahawks securing another two-points after a 4-3 win at the Hull Ice Arena. Attention now turns to the upcoming playoff fixtures where Matty Davies’ side will hope to secure a place in Coventry.

Match report written by Emily Laycock