PAISLEY PIRATES 8 NORTH AYRSHIRE WILD 1
Pirates duly proceeded to the SNL playoff weekend in Kirkcaldy in two weeks’ time but only after they had survived an early scare which shocked the home support.
The home team went into the match already holding a 9-1 advantage from the first leg 24 hours earlier, but were caught on the hop with barely two minutes on the clock as a shot from McPhail took a deflection and deceived Meechan to give the visitors a surprise league. Pirates came back strongly, however, and were level less than four minutes later as Campbell got on the end of a Thorp pass to tie the scores at 1-1. Before the halfway point in the period they had nudged ahead, courtesy of a Wilson marker, and within a couple of minutes the lead was doubled as Turley fired in a bullet from the blue line, followed quickly by a superb goal from Martyn Guy who skated from his own zone and beat a number of defenders before back handing the puck beyond Russell to take the score to 4-1. The scoring for the period wasn’t finished, however, as with Pirates defending a penalty call on Turley, Spiers went on a run which saw him skate through into an attacking position, and his pass to Wilson left the sniper with the simplest of tasks to net and give his side an interval 5-1 lead.
With the tie already well decided, the middle session saw Wild come into the game a little more, with Pirates failing to break down stubborn defence, and the visitors showing some promise coming forward, Russell in particular making some fine stops to keep the hosts at bay. However, with eleven minutes gone he was powerless to prevent Johnston netting a simple goal after assistance from Thorp, and within a minute goal maker turned scorer as with Pirates once again defending a numerical disadvantage, the giant forward skated half the length of the ice to flick past the Wild netminder to make it seven. Wilson duly completed his hat trick with under three minutes remaining in the period to take the score to 8-1.
In a goalless final session there remained period of entertaining hockey, with Russell in particular earning his Man of the Match title for the visitors with a string of excellent saves, and while the teams swapped a number of penalties, neither was able to trouble the scorer with a change in the score, leaving Pirates comfortably taking their places in the final four at Kirkcaldy in less than a fortnight.
Scorers: Wilson (3+1), Thorp (1+3), Campbell, Turley, Guy & Johnston (all 1+0), Orr & Miller (both 0+2), Spiers, Crute, Blair & Hassan (all 0+1)
Penalties: Turley & Orr (both 4), Guy, Spiers & Riddell (all 2)
NORTH AYRSHIRE WILD 1 PAISLEY PIRATES 9
Paisley Pirates took a significant step towards clinching a place in the final four of the SNL playoffs following a convincing 9-1 win in the first leg at Auchenharvie Ice Rink.
The visitors were ahead after only two minutes as Chris Wilson took a pass from David Orr to net top shelf and give his team a lead which they never lost. While Meechan was a virtual spectator in the Pirates net, he was more than able for the occasional shot which came his way, but it was not until the 14th minute that they added to their tally, and they did so in style as Miller netted a straight hat trick within 90 seconds to take the tie out of reach of the hosts with two periods still to play, leaving the score at 4-0 at the first buzzer.
In the second session, the pattern of play remained the same, with Pirates barely getting out of second gear against a North Ayrshire side which showed plenty of pluck, but little threat to the visiting defence. Campbell netted the fifth goal inside two minutes of the restart, and with the younger players enjoying plenty of ice time Euan McGlaughlan backhanded a sixth beyond Bealing just before the halfway point in the match. Crute took the tally to seven with a shorthanded effort less than three minutes later, and Pirates continued to be well on top without adding to the 7-0 scoreline for the remaining eight minutes of the session.
Pirates continued where they had left off in the final period of the game and made it eight within three minutes of the new period, Crute tipping in a Spiers blue liner, and with the visitors continuing to push forward at every opportunity it was something of a surprise that it wasn’t until there were less than six minutes to play that Thorp finally took the tally to nine.
Wild did eventually get on the scoresheet with under four minutes remaining, but by this time the match was well and truly over, Pirates’ thoughts turning towards completing the task of qualifying for the final four within 24 hours.
Scorers: Miller (3+0), Crute (2+0), Wilson (1+4), Thorp (1+3), McGlaughlan (1+1), Campbell (1+0), Spiers (0+2), Orr, Riddell, Guy, Johnston & Blair