It was a showdown between the league’s two best teams to determine who would lay claim to the Hart Division crown. The teams split the first 4 games to set up winner take all game 5. The Ice Storm had won games 1 and 4 by one goal margins including a shoot-out victory in game 4. The Hornets HC won games 2-3 by decisive margins. It had all the makings of a classic and it didn’t fail to disappoint.
The teams traded scoring opportunities in the first period. With time winding down, Dustin McNeil opened the scoring as his snap shot found the back of the net with only :15 remaining.
The Hornets pressed for the equalizer and carried the play in the second period outshooting the Ice Storm 12-7. Stellar goaltending from Al Beliveau and critical penalty killing kept the second frame scoreless. The Hornets had a 2 man advantage for 1:22 and did everything but score.
Two minutes into the third period, the Hornets Terry Wilms scored a beautiful shorthanded goal to add even more tension to the game. The tie was short lived however, as Dustin McNeil blasted home his second of the game converting a pass from Jason Simpson 3:18 after the Hornets had tied it. The Hornets pressed and just couldn’t find a way to net the equalizer. With under :10 remaining and the puck in the neutral zone, it seemed like the Ice Storm were going to squeak out the slimmest of victory. Then the Hornet’s Adam Spindor made a great play and fired a shot far side along the ice which tied the game with only 1.8 seconds remaining
As overtime began, it seemed like both teams were still stunned at the turn of events , with each team at the opposite ends of the emotional spectrum. The overtime was thrilling and it could have gone either way, but for the second straight game, a shoot-out would be required.
The Hornet shot first, however Brad Van Hatten came away empty while Kent Jordan scored for the Ice Storm .The pressure started to mount as did the tension in the rink. The daunting challenge for Jason Wyllie was he needed a much needed tally to square the shoot-out at one. Unfortunately for the Hornets, they were once again turned away by Al Beliveau who had a remarkable series. The stage was now set for Adrian Nash to win it all . Nash moved in and made a beautiful move and outlasted a sprawled Anthony Ghatto before firing home the game winner.
The Ice Storm swarmed their goalie and celebrated their first HNA division title.
It was an amazing series between two great teams who were both worthy of being proclaimed champions.