Sheffield Bears have won the National Championships after defeating St. Andrews 3-0 in the final to end an extraordinary campaign.
After finishing in second place in the group stage of the tournament, the Bears defeated Nottingham in the semi-finals and St. Andrews in the final to take home the National Championship trophy.
In the first group game, the Bears won 4-3 against London, followed by a 4-3 loss against St. Andrews as well as a 5-0 win against Cambridge; enough to send the Bears into the knockout stage.
This put them against other group winners Nottingham.
Sheffield Bears captain Tom Brooke said there was a strong rivalry in the build-up to the game.
“There’s a fierce rivalry between Nottingham and Sheffield. We don’t get along because we are so closely located and the games are so close as well.
“Nottingham brought a really strong team and following their performance in their group and coming out on top in arguably the strongest of the two groups, they were favourites to win the whole thing.
“We went into that game thinking we were going to lose. One of the Nottingham players even came up to me in the warm ups saying ‘Are you ready to lose? You guys aren’t up to the task’.
The Bears started on fire, going 3-0 up in the first period. Nottingham then got one back, but the Bears came out 4-1 winners.
A 3-1 win for St. Andrews over Edinburgh in the other semi-final set up a mouth-watering tie for the final.
“We were really up for it, especially after coming up from the win in the Nottingham game. We were really fired up. We said to each other ‘in the past four years, we’ve not even progressed past the group stage’.
“This was the first semi-final I’d been to and the first final in tier one. The team really gathered together and bonded well and we came away with a 3-0 win.
“Two of the three goals came from players that weren’t in our game semi-final win because of work and other arrangements, so we really strengthened our team before the final game and came out on top.
“We knew that St. Andrews were a really good team. We often really struggle against Scottish teams. They’re often really consistent, they’re really disciplined, and more professional. They turn up in suits and get their university to provide them coaches.”
Winning the Championship was also seen as the high point of the season, following a disappointing league finish.
“We finished fourth in the league out of the five teams in the top tier, so we had a bit of a disappointing league performance.
“Even though we had a disappointing final standing, we put in some good performances against the top teams but always came up short against Edinburgh, St. Andrews, Nottingham late in the season, so to turn it around in the National Championships in front of all the other teams has really been fantastic.”