Keep track of the lads as they enjoy the 2023 EIHL Playoff Final Weekend in Nottingham.
It’s finally here!
The 2023 EIHL Playoffs are finally here and four teams are ready to throw down to lift the title on Sunday evening.
Thousands of fans from the ten teams across the EIHL are descending on Nottingham and the craic is sure to be mighty after a wet start tot he weekend on Friday for those who arrived early to soak in the atmosphere and a few frothy beverages too we suspect (and are also guilty of ourselves!).
For the first time in Door 14 Hockey history, we are here as ‘Media’ and hope to bring you some fun content both here as the weekend progresses and also via our Twitter with the odd live chat and occasional video too as we chat to fans, friends and (fingers crossed) some team representatives from across the EIHL.
Stick with us, and wherever you are – we hope you enjoy your playoff hockey!
We’ve Made It!
Game 1 – Giants v Panthers
It’s 30 minutes until faceoff and the tension and atmosphere in the area is building as fans have been pouring into the NIC for the last hour.
Beers are flowing, hotdogs are being munched and merch is flying across the shelves.
The Belfast Giants, OUR Belfast Giants, EIHL League and Cup Champions, prepare for the most important game of the season – long 60 minutes or more to clinch a berth in the showcase final tomorrow. History is beckoning and in their way is a Nottingham Panthers team that are hurting after a long regular season but a remarkable start to the playoffs that saw them banish the Guildford Flames form post season.
Like they say – an injured cat is a dangerous cat and the Giants likely have a storm to weather…
Giants Win In Champion’s Fashion
A suspect start to the second period wasn’t to deny Adam Keefe’s Belfast Giants as they relied on firm and fast starts to periods one and three as they take their place in the Playoff Final with a 6-3 victory over the Nottingham Panthers in the first semi final of the day.
A man of the match performance from Belfast Giant’s number 14 Sean Norris with two goals has rocketed the Giants in to pole position to create history as they chase the ever elusive treble. Check out our post-game interview with Sean on our SoundCloud.
Game 2 – Sheffield Steelers v Cardiff Devils
Game two between the closer seeded teams proved to be a closer affair altogether in the end.
Three frenetic periods of hockey highlighted by outstanding performances by netminders Greenfield and Bowns saw the Devils sit a goal behind for the majority of the game, but a late third period goal to tie the game sent the teams into he first overtime of the Playoff Final Weekend.
Officiating was on the agenda too. A questionable netminder interference call against the Devils in the second period looked to have been highly influential on the game, but there was more black and white controversy to come in overtime.
With he Steelers down a man in OT, the Devils pounced and punched their ticket to the Grand Final as Steelers coach Aaron Fox applauded the officials before heading down the tunnel.
The other end of the ice was a different story, as the underdogs of the tie (if there was such a thing) jubilant as they await the Giants tomorrow in yet another championship tie between the two.
See you all tomorrow!
Game 3 – Panthers v Steelers for the 2023 Chunder Cup
Let’s be honest here, this is a game no one wants to see, take part in or discuss much unless your teams are involved and it’s your last chance to see guys wear your colours before the long hockey-free summer months.
Whilst the third place game has been the final send off for many a player and servant to clubs, this game holds more special significance than almost any of them. At 1pm today (Sunday 16th April 2023), Jonathan Phillips of the Sheffield Steelers will take to the ice for the final times in his domestic career. A league, cup and playoff champion in his time in the house of steel.
A servant of over 1000 games and a product of the Cardiff Devils development system, Jonno has been a servant not just to his club in the orange (and occasionally teal…uugh), he has also served Team GB with aplomb, not only as a player but also as a leader and captain, delivering one of the greatest on-ice pep talks to his players in the world championships a few seasons ago as well as captaining the team to gold medals and promotion, at ‘home’ in Belfast no less.
For this very reason and for the first time in many years – maybe that third place playoff game is worth the time.
Congrats Jonno on a fantastic career.
The Big One
All roads have let to here.
A season maker or a season definer.
Full disclosure…I’m writing this on Monday!
The coaches have done all they can over the last several months. Locker rooms are furnished and lines are set. All that’s left is what the players leave out on the ice.
The Devils came out hard in the Grand final. All the signs were that this was going to be a feisty and even matchup between two teams with history in the playoffs and in cup finals. Pressure on both netminders was high and a number of key saves from Tyler Beskorowany and Ben Bowns were why the score remained 0-0. That was until 1.7 seconds to the period break when an unfortunate bounce off the backboards left Besko in no mans land after having closed the angle on the initial shot and an open net opportunity granted to the Devils that they didn’t need asking twice about.
Giants fans at this point could have been forgiven for letting their heads drop and let thoughts of a third successive grand final defeat and once again being denied the clean sweep of silverware.
They needn’t have worried though. Another frantic to and fro period of hockey unfolded with little sign of either team finding a way past the stars of the show, the netminders. Be upstanding Jeff Baum, however late in the third. Quite possibly one of the most important goals of the season, and perhaps since the tying goal of the challenge cup in 2022 and the laptop decision. There was belief in the squad and the fan base again. Quiet descended on the opposition bench and across eight sets of fans in the NIC. There was a hell of a third period to come…
Ten minutes of the final period of regulation would see nothing less than attritional hockey played by both teams, but a change was coming. 11 minutes and 42 seconds in, Steve Owre struck and sent the Teal Army into a frenzy. The Giants were ahead for the first time in the Grand Final, and they wouldn’t be letting that lead through their grasp. Less than a minute later, it was 3-1 thanks to Neuls and the party could, tentatively, start. The Giants had found the chink in Ben Bowns and they would not be denied.
An empty net goal from Mark cooper 2 minutes and 39 seconds before the final buzzer would the final act of the games real competitive edge. The score line ended 4-1 to the Belfast Giants – reigning and defending EIHL League and Challenge Cup Champions, and now Playoff and GRAND SLAM CHAMPIONS!