Whitley Warriors capped a memorable season with victory over Coventry Blaze in the ENL Division One North play-off final.
Having secured the regular season crown with an unbeaten record, Warriors were firm favourites in their quest to complete a second successive double but Blaze pushed them all the way.
Goals from Callum Watson (2) and Nathan Ryder gave the Warriors a 3-2 first leg advantage.
Watson and Karl Culley extended the aggregate lead on home ice and the Warriors seemed to be cruising, but Blaze hit back with two quick-fire strikes.
Paul Windridge restored their lead on the night but Coventry’s never-say-die attitude brought them level midway through the second period.
Warriors’ leading scorer Adam Reynolds grabbed his 40th goal of the season to make it 4-3 on the night and 7-5 overall.
Whitley wasted a couple of chances to wrap up the tie early in the final period and Coventry capitalised by scoring with nine minutes to go to set up a pulsating finale, but the Warriors’ defence held firm to seal the prize.
Coach Simon Leach was delighted with his side’s overall performance.
“We knew it was going to be close over the two legs. Our first leg victory gave us the edge for the second leg. Coventry always looked dangerous and we got tired towards the end – we only had four defencemen.”
“But I’ve just said to them the reason why we’re successful is because we stick together.”
The national final between Whitley and Chelmsford Chieftains has been cancelled due to Chelmsford being unable to ice enough players.