Murrayfield Racers reach NIHL North Cup final after Callum Boyd goal seals stunning win over Solway Sharks
Racers through to cup final after impressive win over Sharks
A Callum Boyd goal 45 seconds from time saw Murrayfield Racers make it through to the National Ice Hockey League North Cup final with a stunning 6-4 win over highly-fancied Solway Sharks at Murrayfield last night.
Racers, who trailed 5-4 from Saturday’s semi-final first leg in Dumfries, went through 10-9 on aggregate to play Whitley Warriors in the final.
Murrayfield levelled the tie five minutes in through Garry Simpson but the Racers net led a charmed life at times as Solway pushed hard. Goalie Mark McGill made a good pad save to deny Peter Gapa short-handed, and there were two scrambled goal-line clearances, before Michael Ireland broke up the ice in the 18th minute.
Ireland shot from a tight angle, the puck rebounded of a defenceman’s skate and beyond Solway’s experienced keeper Gary Russell. Racers struck again with 45 seconds of the first period remaining. After being set up through good play from Rihards Grigors, Ireland didn’t get all his one-timer from the top of the circle, which kept the puck low and it squeezed past the bamboozled Russell.
Racers looked to have turned the tie but a nightmare nine-minute spell from the home-side in the second period saw them ship four goals. Gapa, Jaako Heiskanen, Scott Henderson and Straun Tonnar had Solway in front on the night, and 9-7 ahead on aggregate with seven minutes of the second period still to play.
Solway were dominating but crucially for Murrayfield a late penalty call on Gapa enabled Ireland to fire home right on the end-of-period buzzer to complete an impressive hat-trick. With the score tied 4-4 on the night, a rejuvenated Racers matched their NIHL opponents stride for stride in a thrilling third period. In the 47th minute 17-year-old defence-man Ethan Reid fired a high finish beyond Russell to make it 5-4 and 9-9 on aggregate, before Boyd with a quick shot on the turn at 59 minutes and 19 seconds sent Racers into their first cup final outside of Scottish National League competition.
A delighted Boyd said: “This is just brilliant, I’ve never made it to a cup final before (outside of the SNL), playing with these boys and beating a great team like Solway.
“We knew we had to dig deep, the boys showed great character over the two games. ”