Murrayfield Racers came close to picking up their first points in the NIHL North Cup group stages, losing 6-4 at home to Solway Sharks tonight.
Solway, wearing grey Racers warm-up jerseys after leaving their tops in Dumfries, dominated the opening period, firing more than a shot a minute on Racers goalie Mark McGill, out-shooting the home-side 21 to five.
Racers did well to kill three Shark power-play opportunities, Solway’s Peter Gapa scoring the only goal of the period with a well placed shot from the top of the circle in the ninth minute.
In terms of general play the second period was end-to-end, and a much more even affair, only with Solway far more ruthless in front of goal, stretching their lead to 6-3, which included a double from former Edinburgh Capitals forward Iain Bowie, but not before Racers had equalised three times through two from Joel Gautschi and a well worked goal finished by Ross Borthwick.
Murrayfield were much more defensively sound in the final stages, and grabbed the only goal of the third period, Gautschi, completing his hat-trick with 19 minutes to play.
Racers, who play predominantly in the Scottish National League, and who won 14 -1 in that competition at Dundee Tigers on Saturday, gave a good account of themselves against the NIHL outfit who booked their place in the semi-finals with the win.
McGill, who made 33 saves and picked up man-of-the-match for Racers, said: “It’s been a difficult month for the boys with lots of long coach trips down south, which can take it’s toll to be honest.
“It was great to get back in front of the home fans tonight and they were really loud.
“In the second period we got a goal to equalise and we all got a bit too enthusiastic about going forward and there wasn’t enough coming back.
“We spoke (at the second period break) about defence first, if we protect the house, chances and goals will come and we played a lot better defensively in the third period.
“The boys are happy with that performance, obviously there was a few defensive errors that lead to soft goals and the boys are annoyed about that, but all-in-all it’s a big improvement in how we’ve played before in the North Cup.”