BY CHRISTOPHER BEAL
Streatham sealed the second half of a league and play-off double in Milton Keynes over the bank holiday weekend after beating rivals Solent Devils 5-1 in the final.
Streatham’s path to the final was a repeat of the last season’s semi-final, defeating Raiders 6-2, with goals from Ziggy Beesley, Scott Bailey, Jared Lane and Brandon Miles.
The Devils also won an overtime thriller, beating the Invicta Dynamos 4-3 to advance and set up the final everyone wanted between the two best sides in the league.
Streatham would set the tone of the game. With just 30 seconds gone on the clock, Jared Lane rounded the net, sucking Christian Cole out of position, which allowed Scott Bailey to apply the finish and make it 1-0.
Streatham doubled their advantage 10 minutes later. Vanya Antonov fired a pass out of the corner into the path of a trailing James Warmnan, who sent a shot high into the net.
They added another to make it 3-0 just two minutes into the third. Vanya Antonov skated out from behind the net and rifled a shot past Cole.
Streatham would add a fourth at the 25-minute mark – Danny Ingoldsby capitalising on a rebound in front of the net to make it 4-0 Streatham.
Solent called a timeout to regroup and figure out a new game plan to get themselves back in the game.
The Devils found one back when Ryan Sutton set up Steve Osman, who applied the finish to give Solent a lifeline.
Streatham got themselves into penalty trouble at the tail of the second period. They started the third period on a five-on-three penalty kill before being down to five-on-four for another minute.
But the RedHawks PK killed the four minutes of penalties.
However, Ryan Watt killed the game off in the 43rd minute. He skated the puck out from behind Cole’s net and backhanded a shot to extend Stretham’s lead.
The 5-1 scoreline was an insurmountable deficit for the Devils to overcome. And Streatham became ultra-defensive to close out the game and seal a second play-off title in two years.
“We’re pleased with our performance – we dominated the game,” said head coach Ben Paynter.
“We took control from the opening face-off to the final minute. We played well – we killed well. The only goal they got was off a funny bounce – it popped out for an empty net tap-in.
“But I’m happy with how we played.
“It’s important to get through to next week with no injuries. But tonight was our main objective.
“We just wanted to get through tonight not thinking about next week. The boys were putting their bodies on the line, and we got through the weekend with no injuries or suspensions.
“We left it all out there with how we played and all we were worried about was tonight.”
Streatham now march on to Coventry next Sunday, where they will face the Solways Sharks champions of the North in the National play-off to decide who is the best of the best in NIHL 1.
Photos: Mel O’Brien @Fusional
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