Under 18s NATIONAL FINAL 2012 @ Coventry 15.4.12
Sheffield Steelhawks v Guildford Phoenix
The early start paid off for the Under 18s League Champions, the Sheffield Steelhawks, as we were able to take up occupancy of our favourite changing room, much to the rinks dismay. With our team camped out in their spot, music blasting out, I was able to decline the home advantage so the lads could wear the away shirts. Those shirts have never let us down in a final yet! The Steeldogs team turned out in force and came to wish the team the best of luck and offer their valuable advice. It meant a lot to the guys to know that the Dogs were behind them all the way.
Both teams were out to triumph, and as the game got underway Smith for Sheffield took an elbows penalty at 1.57. Jones followed with a hooking call at 6.09. Guildford’s Martin took their first, also for hooking at 6.38. Sheffield pulled out all the stops and took an early lead with Aheran scoring at 13.41 assisted by Smith and Kirk. We were then back on the penalty kill shortly after, with and interference call on Smith 14.59. Kirk took his first penalty of the day for roughing at 16.57. Re-grouping the troops, saw us gain that all important second goal, this time from Jones assisted by Dale and Smith at 19.58. The buzzer for the end of the first gave us chance to get our breath, make our plans for the second and take a drink and gain valuable advice from Shane and Heather.
As we headed out for the second, the teams proved to be evenly matched throughout the period. Guildford’s bench receiving a too many men call at 22.45. Then our opponents took an interference call at 30.23. Before the second ended, Smith took his third penalty of the game with a slashing call, timed at 37.57. Whilst Brad was playing his heart out on the ice, Warren was doing an extremely entertaining job in winding up the opposition. He was relentless from start to finish in his verbal attacks! The guys then headed off to the changing room once more as the ice was cut for the final time.
The third saw Martin have a cross checking penalty timed at 43.16. Guildford’s Cheema got a call for tripping at 53.26. Knell took us further into the lead with his first goal of the day, timed at 45.37 assisted by Smith and Proctor. Guildford reached their climax when they took us by storm and brought the score within their grasp, first with a goal from Martin at 45.52 and then again immediately after with a goal from Norcliffe at 47.43. With Smith and Kirk receiving penalties for interference and roughing respectively at 49.10 our bench called a time out. We gained maximum effect from this short break and brought back the game with a powerplay goal from Knell, assisted by Unwin, after surviving a 5 on 3 penalty kill. Proctor was called for elbows at 55.10. Knell sealed the day with his hatrick goal at 57.22 assisted by Aheran. As the time ticked away the Guildford managed another goal, this time from Hobbis at 58.10. The Steelhawks held their ground bravely as they waited for the all important final buzzer. As it sounded Jones got a tripping plus a misconduct call at 60.00. This didn’t stop the team unanimously celebrating their fourth annual victory at the National finals. With the Sheffield fans and all others who adopted us on the day stood on their feet, the National Champions collected their medals with pride written all over their faces. Knell then lifted the shield to a round of applause from the satisfied crowd. The lap of honour was a privilege and the guys cherished every moment.
I for one am so proud of each and every one of our winning team. They challenged up front, defended whole heartedly between the pipes and at the back and pulled together as a team superbly. The bench was run to perfection. Huge thanks must go to our coaches Shane, Heather and Martin for their time and efforts with the team this season. All we have left to do is own the 18s plate trophy to make it a triple success. First we have to play Chelmsford both home and away and then hopefully the powers that be in the EIHA will have decided whether there will be a final over one or two legs. Where it will be played is anybodies guess!!
Thanks for all your support throughout the season, it’s been a sincere pleasure to be manager to our CHAMPIONS for yet another year. Proud to be SHEFFIELD!!