The Berkshire Cycles Bracknell Bees lined up at full strength (with the exception of suspended Ryan Watt) for the opening semi-final of the National Final Four against Hull Pirates. It was the first meeting between the teams this season
Hull Pirates 6 Berkshire Cycles Bracknell Bees 2
The Pirates showed all their offensive threats early on in the game but a powerplay goal from Josh Smith was the game opener for the nominated away team, the Bees at 8.12. Bees found themselves two ahead at 15.27 when Roman Malinik broke away shorthanded and rifled in the second goal of the game meaning despite being outshot 14-6 the Bees took a healthy lead into the first interval.
Down by two goals the Pirates started converting their chances in the second period and scored three goals to swing the game in a period of just 1.43 with Matty Davies the first to scored at 23.30 followed by Sonny Karlsson at 25.04 and just 9 seconds later Karlsson netted the game winner. While there’d be no scoring in the remainder of the second period that short spell would prove to be game changing.
The North piled on the agony for the South in the final period with Karlsson scoring at 48.44 for his hattrick and Matty Davies added Pirates’ fifth at 49.42. An empty net goal from Bobby Chamberlain completed the scoring at 57.50 with Bees being uncharacteristically out shot by just over a 2/1 ratio.
Hull: Karlsson 3+0; Chamberlain 1+2; Davies 2+0; Haywood 0+2; Hewitt, Smith 0+1. Net: Smith (60.00) 26/2
Bracknell: Smith, Malinik 1+0; Vankleef, Knaggs 0+1. Net: Skinns (59.04) 52/5 & Empty Net (0.56) 1/1
Period Scores: 0-2/3-0/3-0
Shots On Goal: 53-26
Penalty Minutes: 10-16
Referee: P Brooks. N Carmichael & S Smith
The second semi-final saw the South Winners Peterborough take on North runners up Sheffield and despite a close 4-4 scoreline at the end of the second period, the Phantoms ran away with the game in the final period with their 9-4 win setting up at Phantoms vs Pirates Final.
Slough Jets scooped the first trophy of the weekend winning the NIHL2 game over Widnes Wild. The Jets were helped to a 7-1 win by 5 goals from Sean Norris with Luke Smital and Liam Underdown completing the 7 with Chris Gee being the only Wild player to breach Matt Smital’s net.
As eyes turned to the final four final the Pirates, the designated away team, got off to a great start with goals from Sonny Karlsson and Jason Hewitt putting them ahead by 2 goals within 5.26 before Ales Padelek scored at 9.02. Karlsson left the ice after a puck caught him in the mouth at centre ice and after a brief delay to clear up the ice Callum Bugglass levelled the game for the Phantoms ending the first period 2-2.
Bobby Chamberlain re-gained the Pirates lead at 25.58 before Glenn Billing’s strike at 29.35 restored parity again and set up an enthralling third period.
Sonny Karlsson, who had returned to the game midway through the middle period, scored at 50.31 but James Ferrara lit the goal lamp at 54.19 and with regulation ending 4-4 the game headed to overtime.
Phantoms had a chance to claim the win as a long a cross ice pass was sent forward for the rushing Will Weldon but the pass was off target and allow the Pirates a break away which Bobby Chamberlain netted to claim glory for the Pirates.
Reviewing his team’s game after the weekend Bees Head Coach Doug Sheppard looked back; “It was a nice achievement getting to Coventry but a sad way to end the season. I’m proud of the guys in getting to the Finals but it seems we played our best Play-off hockey in the Swindon series.”