Ice Hockey – UK Play-offs Round-up

Whitley Warriors have secured a memorable double by clinching the English National League Division One North play-off crown.

After finishing top during the regular season the Warriors cruised past Sheffield Spartans and Blackburn Hawks in the group stages before facing league runners-up Nottingham Lions in the final. Nottingham had comfortably eased past Coventry Blaze ENL and Telford Titans to set up the two-legged decider.

Goals from Nathan Taylor, Karl Culley and Simon Leach saw the Warriors to a 3-1 success on home ice which left the tie finely balanced. Nottingham were hopeful of turning things around in the second leg but Whitley showed their class to win 5-3 with Culley amongst the scorers again.

The English Premier League play-off champions are Slough Jets. Impressive victories over Sheffield Scimitars and Tony Hand’s Manchester Phoenix set up a final with Guildford. The Flames defeated Basingstoke Bison and Swindon Wildcats on their way to the showdown at the Coventry Skydome hoping to end a run of four appearances at the finals weekend without securing the main prize.

After sixty minutes the scores were level at 1-1 but just two minutes into overtime a penalty shot goal by Jets forward Blaz Emersic doused the Flames hopes for their first ever EPL post season crown. The goal handed the crown to the Berkshire outfit for the second time in three seasons.

Belfast Giants triumphed over Cardiff Devils in a thrilling climax to the Elite League play-offs. The Giants had edged past Nottingham Panthers in the semi-final while Cardiff surprisingly beat League champions Coventry Blaze. The final ended 2-2 and with neither side able to break the deadlock in overtime the game went to a penalty shoot-out with Evan Cheverie grabbing the tie-breaking goal.

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