Solway Sharks recently won the NIHL Division One North title with four games to spare.
This was after title rivals Whitley Warriors fell to Nottingham Lions over the weekend.
Solway: Title Winners
The Sharks didn’t skate over the weekend but had the title handed to them by the Lions.
Ironically Nottingham are one of only two sides who’ve beaten Solway in the league this season.
Head Coach Martin Grubb spoke on winning the title, saying: “It was a little bit anti-climatic on Sunday where you would really like to win it on the ice as a coach you want to see the players faces as the buzzer goes and they celebrate together, but either way when you win a league you can never complain and should never complain.”
This follows sharp performances for Solway who’ve been working tirelessly all season for this moment.
With wins over Whitley, Widnes Wild and Blackburn Hawks in their last three they showed their ability to win games.
Grubb spoke about what it takes to craft a league-winning side, saying: “The start of the season is probably where most of the work goes in, in recruitment, even behind the scenes so the club side of things, any level like this it’s sponsorship and the budget side, but on the coaching side of things, we try and build a group that they’re good people first and foremost, they’re obviously then good hockey players and they fit in together.”
He continued talking about how the mentality of the players was just as important as the players themselves.
“We had a relatively early defeat away to Solihull (Barons), so it was a little sit down to remind them again, ‘don’t panic’ it’s early in the season anybody can beat anybody in the league this year.”
Solway have undoubtedly been one of the best sides in Division One over the course of the season.
They’ve only lost four games in all competitions and at one point were on an 11-game winning streak.
Not only have they been dominant in terms of results but also with their end product.
They have scored four or more times in 28 of their 33 games played this season across all competitions.
This includes five games where they scored nine or more times as well.
Peter Gapa has been the main man in this regard scoring 52 points in 17 games so far.
“We can’t take a night off.”
A key moment for the Sharks this season was their 9-0 away win against Whitley.
Grubb spoke on this, saying: “That probably set a marker for us for the second half of the season, but then of course we go to Nottingham not so long ago and all credit to the Lions who ultimately ended up doing us a favour on Sunday, but they beat us.
“So, again that was another reminder that we can’t take a night off, we can’t get sloppy in what we do.”
The Kirkcaldy native continued talking about the messages he tries to get across to his players, saying: “We went two nothing down very early in Whitley a couple of weeks ago and the message was still the same, stick to what we’re good at, stick to our plan, stay focused, but stay patient and yes don’t panic.”
He continued: “If it takes to 59:59 to score a winner in regulation so be it, even if you need to go and play a little bit of extra hockey in overtime or a shootout.
“For us it’s been about all year just finding a way, the players always laugh at me every week because I say the same thing every week at the end, which is: Good teams find a way to win.”
His players have clearly taken this advice onboard throughout the season sealing the league early.
Solway’s attention will soon turn to the play-offs and National Finals coming in the summertime.
A battle is on for those two trophies which they’ll be keen to add to the cabinet alongside the League title.