Chris Arnone: Plenty of pride in play-off final loss

A section of the Hawks support in Dumfries Picture: KIPAX

A section of the Hawks support in Dumfries Picture: KIPAX

First published in Sport Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by , Blackburn Hawks captain

WE had a tough weekend, with two real battles, and lost the play-off trophy to Solway – but I could not be more proud of the Hawks team.

It wasn’t nice seeing the Sharks captain skate away with the silverware that I was picking up last year, but in terms of the performance there are no regrets.

We can’t really beat ourselves up about it, we put our all into both games and our coach Jared Owen said after the game that we couldn’t have done any more.

Sometimes it just isn’t meant to be. And you can’t take anything away from Solway, they’ve won the treble and that doesn’t happen to an average team. They’re a good side.

While it was disappointing to lose, we can take a lot of encouragement from the progress we’ve made again this season.

We have been on the up since Jared came in as player-coach, finishing in the play-offs for the last four years and improving our league position year on year.

After finishing second this year, the challenge for next year is to go one better.

If we can keep the nucleus of the squad together, and make a few additions, then I’m confident we can do that.

Having three players voted into the Moralee Conference ‘all star’ team of the year – Adam Brittle, Daniel ‘Dangy’ Brittle and myself, and Adam deservedly voted player of the year for the league – there are good signs for the future.

For the moment though, we are licking our wounds.

Saturday probably took it out of us for another tough game on Sunday.

After being forced into extra time and then penalties against Billingham, we were all aching a bit afterwards.

It was the best hockey they’ve played against us this season, but I don’t think we played as well as we could have. Certainly in the first period we didn’t stick to our gameplan, resulting in them scoring their two goals. But once we got the two back we were right back in it and could have won it in normal time.

As it was, after a goalless sudden death it went to penalties.

It’s the first time I’ve been involved in a shoot-out in senior hockey and it was nerve-wracking to say the least going up to take the first one, so I was glad to put it away.

Billingham missed their two to take the pressure off a bit and Adam scored his to send us through to the final.

In the end, it wasn’t to be for us, but from the stands to the ice we gave it everything.

I need to give special mention to the fans because they were amazing, outnumbering the home fans three to one.

They paid a lot to travel up there for the weekend and stay over so we owe them a massive thanks, and it was nice to see some new faces.

We are growing as a team and as a club, which is exactly what we want.

And next year we will come back hungrier. This weekend has made us want it more.

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