THE HAGUE, Netherlands – For the first time since 1969, HYS The Hague became champions of the Dutch Eredivisie. In an all-decisive fifth game they defeated reigning champions Tilburg Trappers 5-2 to claim the title in a sold-out Stappegoor Arena in Tilburg.
The final series was all about momentum. After both teams defeated each other away from home, Tilburg took an important step towards retaining the title winning game three in overtime, 2-1. The series seemed clinched when HYS The Hague trailed 0-2 after 20 minutes of play in game four but the team fought back and was rewarded when Czech Jan Bohac drilled home the 3-2 with just 12 seconds left to play in the game.
Boosted by this result, The Hague travelled to Tilburg the next day to finish off the job. Three second-period goals within 90 seconds gave the team a lead they would not squander any more. In the remainder of the game, goaltender Tim Knudsen thwarted opposition offence and conceded just one more goal as his team posted a 5-2 victory in front of 2,800 spectators.
With the victory, the title returns to the city where it all began for ice hockey in the modern era in the Netherlands. HYS The Hague had a hegemony going in the early days winning the first five national championships (1964-1969). A few years ago the team returned to the top league but only in recent years they’ve started to become successful.
After a semi-final elimination last season HYS had high hopes for this season. The late season acquisition of Slovakian veteran Jozef Cierny proved to be the final piece of the puzzle this season.
Tilburg forward Taggart Desmet was crowned as Eredivisie top scorer with 32 goals and 79 points.
The loss for the Tilburg Trappers means they are without silverware this season after losing the Dutch Cup final against the Nijmegen Devils earlier this season. Nijmegen dethroned Tilburg after a 5-4 overtime win.