In spite of the final score, this was another improved performance by Pirates against a team of semi-professional players, with Sharks’ import Heiskanen making a major difference to the outcome with no fewer than five goals in an entertaining game.
Pirates competed well with their opponents in the opening session and actually went ahead after two minutes on the powerplay as Spiers deflected a slapshot from Hamilton behind Johnston for the opener. Sharks came back within a few minutes and were level when Gapa scored, but Pirates responded in style and were back in front half a minute later as Harju broke down the left wing and flicked the puck beyond Johnston again to restore his team’s narrow advantage. This caused the Sharks to up the tempo as they levelled through the first of Haiskanen’s goals at the halfway point and Horne beat Morris before the flying Finn netted his second in the space of a minute to put the visitors 4-2 ahead at the first interval.
Pirates continued to put up a fight in the second session, although they were minus several key players, and made it a one goal game before the 25th minute as a flowing move involving Huber and Andreucci finished with Kenneth netting to make it 4-3. Henderson replied for the visitors before the halfway point to stretch the lead to two, before a quickfire double by Haiskanen and Houston took the score to 7-3 and probably ended in lingering hopes of an upset, taking the Sharks to 7-3 by the second break.
The home side continued to battle in the final session but could not match the clinical finishing of their opponents, as Haiskanen rounded off the scoring with a double in the final twenty minutes, to take the final score to 9-3, perhaps not an undeserved margin at the end, but maybe leaving Pirates feeling the final margin was somewhat unflattering in view of their efforts over the 60 minutes.
Pirates’ player/coach Adam Walker said after the match,*The boys battled hard and certainly put in the effort, but we’re still a bit away from where we want to be.”
Pirates next play Kirkcaldy Kestrels in a Scottish Cup quarter final (second leg) tie next Sunday at 4.30pm at Braehead, having played the first leg in Fife 24 hours earlier.