Cleveland Comets travelled to Nottingham to take part in the British Masters (Over 35) tournament at the weekend and posted an impressive 8 game unbeaten streak to lift the Championship Trophy.
With a number of former Bombers, Stars and Wasps players in their lineup there was occasions when the games resembled a replay of the former Heineken League’s heyday as players from Blackpool, Durham, Grimsby, Solihull, Milton Keynes and Nottingham faced each other 20yrs further down the line.
Though the pace may not have been as fast as those glory days the skill was still evident for all to see with the passion for the game shining through.
Comets posted an impressive first day in the group stages as the won all four games to top their group and most importantly secure the no 1 ranking for Sundays championship games.
Opening against their derby rivals Durham Dragons, Comets shared the spoils with a 2-2 tie though felt justifiably robbed after a freak bounce of the boards saw the puck deflected to unmarked Mark Foster in front of net for the simplest of taps home to give Durham the equalizer just minutes from time.
Undaunted Comets went into the second game to destroy Grimsby Lightning with an emphatic 4-0 win to get their title challenge back on track.
It all looked to be in vain as Blackpool Seagulls led by a single goal from their Canadian star Dave Anthony but with just 2 secs left Simon Hehir proved why he was named forward of the tournament as he rifled the puck into the roof of the net for the equalizer. That draw keeping Comets hopes alive.
Durham, where now in the driving seat with the destiny of the trophy in their hands. However Grimsby had other ideas as they ended Dragons dream with a 3-1 defeat.
That No 1 seeding now came to Clevelands aid as they faced Nottingham in the tournament’s final game knowing that not only had they to win but needed to score 5 goals into the bargain to take the top spot.
To add to their problems the injury to Martin Lewis in the 3rd game looked to be a broken hand and he was unable to ice for the final match denting Cleveland’s firepower.
Nottingham may have been in their own building and with the majority of the crowd behind them but Comets outstanding team work came shining through.
The home net was peppered by shots as Comets gave every last ounce of effort in search for goals. The first 3 came pretty quickly as Cleveland raced into a 3-0 lead. With their own hopes of victory now gone Nottingham had every intent of spoiling Comets party Stout defending, excellent netminding and the pipework continually denied the Comets assault on Nottinghams net, Goal no 4 came with 9 mins left and seemed to lift Clevelands tiring limbs.
A last gasp push saw Tony Boynton pick out Simon Hehir in front of the Nottingham net and the former Durham Whitley and Billingham star showed he had lost none of the clinical finishing with advancing years leaving the netminder motionless as he rifled that all important 5th goal into the net to give Comets that Masters Championship title.
A weekend of friendship with former league rivals 6 wins and 2 draws made Cleveland Comets worthy winners of this prestigious tournament.