Blackburn Hawks team manager Graham Lomax could not hide his delight after seeing his side reach the English National Ice Hockey League North One final, one step away from a first trophy in their 22-year history.
After defeating Whitley Warriors 5-3 in the first leg at the Blackburn Arena on Saturday, Hawks made sure of their place in the final with a 6-4 victory in a tense second leg, to complete an 11-7 aggregate win.
But Lomax insisted it was the supporters and management who were nervous ahead of the clash, with his players remaining calm and composed throughout.
After their 2011 semi-final defeat against the same opposition, the Hawks boss knew how intimidating the trip to Whitley could be, emphasising how much of an achievement reaching the final was for his side.
“I went to bed on Saturday night wondering whether the two-goal lead would be enough, especially after going to Whitley a year before in the same position and missing out on the final,” said the Hawks team manager.
“When you put everything into context, it is absolutely massive. In previous years nobody has got anywhere near, so for that reason I am very proud of the players.”
A two-legged final is in store for Lomax’s side against either Billingham Stars or Telford Titans, and he has no particular preference on who he would rather face.
“Obviously Billingham are at the top of the table but Telford are somewhat of an unknown quantity for most teams in the division, so I am not fussed who we meet in the final,” claimed Lomax.
Lomax is planning on attending next weekend’s other semi-final, to cast his eye over which side will stand in the way of Hawks lifting their first trophy.