Sport Corner-Titanium captures first SHL title
Well, they had to work for it this time, but rallying from a 3-2 deficit in the third period, SC-Titanium stormed back to beat Hooters Nana 4-3, winning two straight games in their best-of-three championship series to capture the inaugural Siam Hockey League (SHL) title.
Pratch Siridhara, Araya “Ith” Vatanapanyakul and Arkadi Goncharev remained absent in game two for SC-Titanium and were joined on the sidelines by star defenseman Jari Eerikainen. Sittiphun “Nicky” Intaraha joined the team as a substitute. Hooters Nana was missing Jordan Nolan and Tommi Haakinen, and subbed Richie Jiaravanon in their place.
Hooters Nana held leads of 1-0, 2-1 and were ahead 3-2 going in the third period but lost control of the game and their momentum halfway through the third when Jouni Heinonen, scored the second of his three goals before scoring the winning goal with seven minutes to play. It was a remarkable comeback for Heinonen, who only two months ago couldn’t even skate because he was in so much pain due to a groin injury. Mike Wilson scored the other goal for SC-Titanium on the night.
You could have called this the Jouni Heinonen-Michael White show because not only did they trade hat-tricks but Mike White accidentally poked the puck to Jouni allowing him to score the winning goal. White had the goal of the night, when stepping out of the penalty box, he took a pass from Janthapong “Moo” Tengsakul on the blue line, streaked in on Gabor Toth and deked him out of his flannel Hungarian underwear.
Toth had a tougher time of it in game two stopping 23 of the 26 shots directed his way, while his counterpart Pattarapol “Dream” Ungkulpattanasuk turned aside 18 of the 22 shots fired at him. Gabor did have the best goalie rating during the playoffs with a Goals Against Average of 2.44, and made the big saves when needed.
Goal-scoring in the playoffs was dominated by SC-Titanium. The famed MSG line was broken up with Jouni Heinonen moving into Mike Wilson’s spot to give the second line more depth. Zak Garofolo finished atop the scorer’s table with two goals and eight assists, followed by sharpshooter Heinonen with seven goals and two assists. Regular season leading scorer John Schachnovsky finished third with three goals and five assists. Hooter’s Mike White was the only non-SC-Titanium player to sneak into the top five scoring four goals and two assists to finish fourth. Panithi “Jeto” Nawasmittawong was fifth with two goals and four assists.
The score in the final game was a fitting end to the SHL’s inaugural season; organizers worked hard to achieve parity in the league and the majority of SHL matches were closely-decided contests.
Hooters Nana dug deep in this game, outshot SC-Titanium and with a couple of lucky bounces could have pushed the series to three games. Hooters had a number of players that won multiple championships in the SHL’s predecessor, the TWHL, and it was thought their playoff experience might give Hooters an edge. But SC-Titanium, who lead the league in points for most of the regular season, just played so well together as a team and never seemed to panic under pressure.
In a nice touch, Steve Lavender, a partner in Sport Corner, was on hand with some of his staff, to hand out the championship trophy to captain Mike Wilson of Sport Corner Titanium.
The SHL would like to thank all players and fans for participating in an exciting fun-filled first season. The SHL Awards party will take place on the 13th of May at Sport Corner, Sukhumvit Soi 20, starting at 4pm.
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