Murrayfield Racers claimed the NIHL North Cup after two epic battles with Whitley Warriors over the weekend.
The Racers went into the two matches as big underdogs to lift the trophy against a team that had won 14 games in a row leading up to the final.
Tony Hand’s side deservedly secured a 4-2 first leg advantage in front of a bumper crowd at Murrayfield Ice Rink on Saturday, with Garry Simpson (2), Marty Simpson and Callum Boyd grabbing the goals.
The Warriors came out firing in the reverse fixture and were rewarded as Harry Harley reduced the overall deficit to one goal after eight minutes.
However, the Racers dug deep to restore their two-goal cushion in the 32nd minute as Boyd broke away before gleefully firing home past netminder Richie Lawson.
Roared on by a packed house at Hillheads, the Warriors stepped things up early in the final period to level the tie on aggregate through Ben Campbell and Dean Holland.
The Racers looked to have sealed the game with four minutes to play as Michael Ireland raced away down the left-hand side before smashing the puck past Lawson.
Whitley had other ideas and made it 6-6 overall with 66 seconds remaining as Holland grabbed his second of the game.
The overtime period was a tense affair, with both sides creating chances, but the Racers finally prevailed as Boyd kept his cool with less than two minutes remaining to beat Lawson and send the Racers’ fans into raptures.
Racers’ Director, Willie Dunn, was understandably delighted to see the team lift the NIHL North Cup in just their second season back on the ice.
“As we wake up to our hockey hangovers this morning, we wanted to thank the fans for their tremendous support over the weekend,” he said.
“When we started this thing under two years ago, we could not have imagined a night like last night.
“We have come a long way in a very short time and this proves that if you give people quality and reasonably priced British hockey they will come out in large numbers.
“Our supporters backed the team all the way and for that we would like to thank you – the noise you made on Saturday and Sunday had two old rinks bouncing like the old days.
“Our players have been fantastic all season, but this weekend they gave their all for the cause and the moment that puck hit the back of the net will live long in the memory.
“We have a bond between the players and the fans that has grown over the last 18 months and will continue to grow. The number of fans travelling to Whitley Bay was truly amazing and something not seen in Edinburgh hockey for decades.
“However, as we always say this is just the start – we want to continue to grow and develop as a club on and off the ice and we want more nights like last night.
“We now go forward to next week’s Scottish Cup semi-final against the excellent Dundee Tigers and hope you will join us to cheer the Racers into another final (hopefully!).
“We also have a couple of home league games to go before we head into play-off hockey where anything can happen, so we have lots to look forward to.
“Today, however, let’s take a moment to raise a glass to the 2019/20 NIHL North Cup winners – YOUR Murrayfield Racers. Now tell everyone you know, the Racers ARE back!”
(Image permission: Racers Media)