HEARTBROKEN Blackburn Hawk Chris Arnone says he hopes the ice hockey stars can come back stronger next season after they suffered the pain of play-off defeat at the weekend.

The 21-year-old former Darwen Vale High School pupil was part of the Hawks side that just missed out on the first major trophy of their 22-year history despite running Billingham Stars close in the second leg of the English National Ice Hockey League North One play-off final.

Leading 2-1 from the first leg at Blackburn Arena, the locals were beaten 6-3.

And Arnone admits that losing left everyone feeling low.

“It was an awful feeling,” he said. “Losing is the worst, without doubt.

“But it does make you want to come back stronger for next year.

“The season is over now until September and it will be a month or so before we get back on the ice in training but I certainly just what to go again.”

As disappointed as Arnone and his team-mates were in defeat, he knows the Hawks have had a tremendous season overall with a long unbeaten run in the second half of the English National Ice Hockey League North One season propelling them into the play-offs.

“Despite the disappointment of the weekend we realise that it has been a good season overall,” added the defenceman, who works locally as a joiner.

“We have done well and we want to repeat that next season.

“We want to do it for the fans as much as for ourselves. They are our unsung heroes.

“The away support must be the best in the country – and our crowds at The Arena are also just brilliant.

“So we really want to reward them.”