By Tom Pink

The cup’s gone.

It was always going to be difficult. When I heard we’d taken the lead inside the first minute I did briefly allow myself to dream that it might turn out differently, that we might add another W to our record against them, but Guildford are relentless. I think changing the semi-final to one-leg probably was in our favour too; home ice and anything can happen across one game. But it wasn’t enough.

It sounded by all accounts a sterling effort from Haringey, but you don’t get a second chance in knockout hockey.

Last Saturday, focus swung back to the league and back to the six remaining league games this season, now five. I wasn’t there for our loss in Solent, but here was our second chance to set things right and ensure we didn’t give up all four points.

With an injured Luke Clark, Tom Adams got the nod in net. Tom’s done brilliantly this season when he’s been called upon, and I think we’re lucky to have such a solid second netminder. To be honest, I think he could and should get more ice time. To keep this league alive.

A scrappy couple of opening minutes leads to Haringey establishing themselves in the game. We have plenty of chances to open the scoring but the goal eludes us; we outshoot Solent 19-8 on net in the first period.

John Beldecos has a couple of looks from the point, before Conner Smith tries to weave his way through traffic, eventually seeing his shot deflect out of play. Joe Willingham, Corey Taylor, Joe Tearall, and Stuart Appleby all have attempts on net.

Joe Tearall hits a one-timer in the slot from Sam Roberts, but it’s swept away by the goalie’s leg down low. Tom Adam’s is called into a rare bit of action and makes a fine blocker save up high from the right.

The deadlock’s broken with four minutes remaining by Benet Beldecos, moving away from the slot he rips one high beyond the Junior Devils’ goalie for 1-0. Lift off!

There’s a big delay at the end of the first/start of the second. It’s something to do with a lack of coaching staff on the Solent bench, and after several different attempts at sorting it, play gets underway with seemingly no discernible difference.

Haringey waste no time though. It’s two goals in quick succession; Marton Szasz makes it 2-0 after Stu and Stephen Woodford work it behind the net and out in front for Marton to dispatch far side into the side netting.

Twenty seconds later Joe Willingham shoots from the slot and through the Solent netminder, the puck trickling over the line and in for 3-0.

Sam picks up his second assist of the night, finding Tom Avery at the hash marks who sorts his feet out and shoots low and hard into the bottom corner to make it Haringey 4 Solent 0.

We could and maybe should have had more, such was our dominance. Sam goes through alone but can’t beat the goalie. Leo De Souza rings one off the iron. Cass McCormack and Joe Tearall link up but can’t find a shot between them.

Yet again, Stu shows trademark strength and determination to win the puck back and get it out of the zone on the penalty kill. What a captain. Joe Tearall tries a lovely dink at the near post but the netminder’s alert to it.

After two assists Sam gets his goal at the start of the third. Conner sends it across the slot and Sam squeezes a shot in near side. A really good game for Sam and the goal was no less than he deserved.

It’s a spicy old affair, and there’s two moments where the gloves are dropped, and it could have been more. First Conner then Stu tries to sort things out on the ice. Matt France looked eager and willing but his partner wasn’t.

Woody tops it all off with the sixth and final goal; a backhand from the slot. There’s two reactions that I thought encapsulated our attitude to the game on Saturday; the let off when Woody gets his goal after just having one ruled out, you could tell he really enjoyed that, and Joe Willingham after he was denied from the slot late on.

You can see what it means to them, you can see the standards they hold themselves to. They’re hungry and desperate to execute, and when they’re not able to they keep plugging away, keep going again and again. The 60-27 shots on goal paint that picture.

A great game all told. We were fantastic at restricting Solent in centre ice. We got bodies around them early and forced them to take on long shots from the blue line, stopping them building momentum and possession in our defensive zone.

Player of the match is given to Tom Adams for his shutout performance and for seamlessly stepping in when asked to.

I really can’t believe that there are only five league games left though. It just can’t be. This season has absolutely flown by.

What remains is Oxford, Oxford, Cardiff, Guildford, Guildford.

It’s not straight forward by any stretch of the imagination. There’s an Oxford side looking to get into the playoff berths. There’s a back-to-back weekender in there involving a 300-mile round trip. There’s two games against the league leaders. A Saturday night at the Spectrum looms.

But they’ll take it one game at a time. One chance after another. I thought the addition of the drum on Saturday worked well. It certainly got the crowd going.

Haringey will be looking for more performances like Saturday’s across these last five. More shots on net. More domination. More to the beat of their own drum.

Let’s Go Huskies.

Photos by Phil Hutchinson (@77phil77sports)

www.philhutchinsonphotography.net