Telford Tigers extended their winning run to thirteen games with a dramatic 4-3 win over Sheffield Steeldogs on Saturday night.
The EPL champions had to fight back from a two-nil deficit in the first period at Ice Sheffield, eventually winning with a late overtime strike.
That victory means Telford – who will be presented with the league trophy at home to Guildford on Sunday – retain an unbeaten run that stretches back to January.
Tigers head coach, Tom Watkins, said: “It was a hard game tonight and we never really got our noses in front, but thankfully we could stay with Sheffield.
“The guys played some good hockey and got a lot of pucks to the net, but their netminder James Hadfield was pretty solid for them.
“I’m pleased to get the win, as this is a tough place to play and credit to Sheffield. They made it a very difficult game, although entertaining for the fans.
“I also want to thank Sheffied for their congratulations for our title win at the start of the game. That was a classy touch.”
The first period saw Telford fall behind after just five minutes, following a strike from Sheffield’s Donatas Kumeliauskas.
The Lithuanian scored from close range after fine work from Liam Kirk opened up the Tigers defence.
That advantage was doubled on 14 minutes when the Steeldogs struck again, this time through Arnoldas Bosas.
A long-range shot from Bosas beat Jon Baston at his near post, following a lengthy individual run through centre ice.
But Telford were on the scoresheet themselves just two minutes later, thanks to Doug Clarkson.
The talismanic forward struck from close range after a pin-point pass from Sam Oakford.
And the visitors were back on levels terms on the stroke of the period break.
Jason Silverthorn slotted home from directly in front of the net, just seconds after the Tigers were handed their first powerplay of the game.
Watkins added: “That goal at the end of the period was huge for us. It always is when you get a powerplay and capitalise almost straight away.
“We had some good scoring opportunities in the first period, but Sheffield capitalised on theirs very well. If you give them chances, they will score.”
The second session was another even-handed affair, albeit with Telford having the better of the early running.
It was Sheffield who took the lead once again, however, courtesy of a goal from Liam Kirk on 29 minutes
The Shropshire men hit back with four minutes of the period remaining, when Corey McEwen scored from close range.
McEwen tapped home from the far post after fine build-up play from Matty Davies and Doug Clarkson
“I think we were a little bit guilty of overplaying tonight and not getting the puck to the net quickly enough,” Watkins said.
“Corey’s goal was really well executed, with a little slip play from the outside wall. Then Corey finished it off with a really good shot.
“Sheffield are a tough team and it is going to be a great series against them in the play-offs.”
The final session saw neither side take overall control, with both netminders playing key roles in keeping the scores level.
Fans had to wait until the first few seconds of overtime for the winning goal, courtesy of defenceman Jonathan Weaver.
The GB star scored from close range after Telford took control from the opening overtime face-off.
And for Watkins, that immediate possession of the puck was key to securing victory in overtime.
He said: “Matty came in and got the zone first and foremost, then we came up with the puck at the face-off, which was absolutely the key.
“A little bit of individual skill and excellence, then the next thing you know you’ve got a goal after a few seconds of overtime.
“Credit to Weaves. He’s had a tough year with his injury, but keeps battling on and we’re lucky to have that.”
Sunday night’s game against Guildford Flames, at Telford Ice Rink, faces off at 6pm. Following the match, Telford Tigers will be presented with the English Premier League trophy.
For tickets, go to www.tigershockeyuk.com.