The second play-off semi-final in the Dutch league finished yesterday. Tilburg Trappers beat Amstel Tijgers Amsterdam in the fifth decisive game to qualify for the final. Last week Heerenveen Flyers had already reached the final beating Geleen in three straight games.
The series between Tilburg and Amsterdam provided a lot more excitement. On Saturdaynight Tilburg fought back from 3-0 down to tie the game 5-5 with under a minute to play. Amsterdam prevailed in the penaltyshots, with Paul Vincent scoring on two attempts. On Sunday the game was tied 3-3, when an unlucky bounce ended in the net off goaltender Joe Pelletier's stick for what proved to be the game winner.
The defeat also meant the end to a great career for Dutch stalwards Tommie Hartogs and Leo van den Thillart, who once played together with Krefeld Penguin in the DEL in Germany.
The final starts this Wednesday at 19.30 CET in Tilburg, who have home advantage in the best-of-five-series. On Saturday the teams travel to Heerenveen.
In three quite close games, Tilburg Trappers swept Heerenveen Flyers and claimed the Championship. The first game was decided only in the third period. Tilburg scored 4 without reply to take a 5-2 win and the 1-0 lead in the series. Big night for Doug Stienstra, who scored 3 times, and had some magical moments with Dave Bonk.
The second game in Heerenveen was decided in a penalty shootout. As opposed to the NHL, the Dutch playoffs can be decided by a shootout. The idea is the same as the NHL regular season. 5 Minutes of extra time, and after that the shootout.
Heerenveen goalie Kelly Shields stopped 4 shots before Jeff Paul (2 NHL games with the Avalanche) finally scored. Nick Boucher kept his goal clean for 5 shots. 2-0 For Tilburg, and a huge blow to the Flyers.
One day later the teams showed up in Tilburg again, before a sold-out crowd of about 2500. Tilburg curiously took a lead at 20.02 of the first period. Due to the noise in the Arena the buzzer wasn't audible and the bench officials said the goal was scored just in time, but everyone in the stadium knew it was wrong. Heerenveen came back strong in the second period and completely controlled the game. A 2-1 lead was the result. Unfortunately for them Dave Bonk had to show his great skills as he scored the tying goal only a minute later. But Heerenveen had some momentum left and took the lead a few minutes before the break.
The third period would be action-packed. Doug Stienstra rounded off a great pass by Dave Bonk, with Jeff Paul in the box to make it a short-handed tying goal. Tilburg seemed to really want to sweep Heerenveen, and a good play by Daryl Bat gave Tilburg born Peter van Biezen the chance to score the game winning goal. Minutes later Van Biezen decided the game, 5-3.
It's the 12th time Tilburg Trappers takes the Championship.