What would winning the playoff finals actually mean? Well for one team they were just two wins away from finding out.
The four teams to reach last weekends predictor bet playoff final four were the Belfast Giants, Cardiff Devils Nottingham Panthers and for the first time in the franchises history a new name was added to the weekend; The Guildford Flames.
To think two season ago the Flames weren’t even part of the elite league set up and the thought these guys could actually go on to play in a final would be no more than they deserve after the season they have had.
But they were not there yet. All four teams have had an incredible season and were high on confidence; Belfast had a great season picking up three trophies along the way, Cardiff were unlucky to miss out on a league tittle, Nottingham had a shaky start to the season but clawed their way back up the league and Guildford winning their conference and reaching a challenge cup final, continued to buck the trend and shock the hockey community with their impressive run.
Winning the conference is always a huge achievement and should be celebrated, but the playoff weekend is different. This is the highlight of the season, the reason why players play the game we love so much – they want to be part of the big games.
But this year it going to be a battle as there is so many evenly matched teams.
SEMI FINAL 1 GUILDFORD FLAMES 1 -2 BELFAST GIANTS
This was a repeat of the challenge cup final. Both teams know each other extremely well and Guildford were out for revenge as the puck dropped on a packed out arena for the first playoff semi final. Neither team was going to budge an inch with both net minders keeping their clubs in the game.
With a little over 4 minutes into the second period, Guildford’s fast paced play and a top shelf snipe by Ian Watters who made sure he made no mistake with his shot to make it 1 – 0 Flames. A response was needed by the Giants and they tried to get back into the game by finishing more hits and playing the body more. But Guildford stood strong, blocking shots to make sure they had the lead heading into the third.
A fast paced period saw both teams creating scoring opportunities; the Giants then piled on the pressure and Johnathan Ferland capitalised to make it 1-1 with 10 minutes to go. With the Giants gaining confidence Patrick Dwyer broke the Flames Fans hearts as he slotted home the winner to take the Giants into the final.
Post Game interview with Ian Watters on re-grouping for tomorrows 3 place playoff
DAY 2 GUILDFORD FLAMES 5 – 9 NOTTINGHAM PANTHERS
So it now comes down to this the final game of the season for the Flames against Nottingham. This is a tricky game to play as neither team want to be in this position but will both want to end the season off with a win.
Hurtubise opened the scoring for the Panthers little under eight minutes into the first period. Half way through the first period the Panthers extend their lead with Bolduc finding the net. Tetlow added another one shortly after, giving the Panthers a three-goal lead in the first. Guptill then slotted home their 4th goal after a good first save from Carrozzi. The game slowed down and scoring stopped but the crowd kept everyone entertained with a giant beach ball being passed around the arena.
A change of net minders for both teams earlier in the 2nd saw Wills and Gospal get some ice time between the pipes this weekend. The pace of the game picked up and both teams had scoring opportunities with the Flames grabbing two big goals from Crooks and Reddick to make it 7-2 heading into the third.
A few early goals were had in the third period from Lepine and King and the Flames came out on top, winning most of the 1 on 1 and face offs but couldn’t quite manage to change the game. The final score in the third Nottingham 9 Guildford 5.
So thats it for another season. From us here at Legacy we would like to thank the Flames organisation, players and backroom staff for everything this season and more importantly thanks to all you Flames fans out there for the support. See you next season.