Deloitte Devil Rays capped a dominant season with their first national ball hockey championship with a 4-1 win over the Sharks.
After winning the President’s Trophy for the most regular season points by a large margin, Deloitte silenced critics who were sceptical about their ability to perform under the pressure of the playoffs.
Conn Smythe winner Serge Berube was in fine form, allowing just one goal throughout the postseason. Berube made several saves to keep Deloitte ahead and had some luck on his side as the Sharks put a few strong scoring chances wide of the net.
Deloitte opened the scoring early when Brent Forsyth won a key face-off in the Sharks zone, dropping it back to Pierre McGuire, who unleashed a slap shot which deflected off Sharks centre Brad Kirby and into the goal.
Leo Kassam added to the lead in the first half on a quick rush out of the zone and converting on a cross floor pass from Forsyth. The Sharks did not manage much attack in the first half and Deloitte took a 2-0 lead to the dressing room.
Deloitte extended its lead in the second half when Dave Stadnyk sent a rocket from the point into the top corner. The Sharks came to life after that and started peppering Berube, who was up to the task and shut the door. With Deloitte on their heels, their top line stepped up again with Kassam setting up Mike Hall in the slot on a quick breakout to make it 4-0.
With time running out, the Sharks refused to give up. They continued getting chances and finally scored a power play goal with eight minutes left as Tim Woolaver scored from the point. The Sharks kept pressing and drew another late penalty after a boarding call on Pierre McGuire. Deloitte killed the penalty and with the Sharks’ net empty for the extra man, the Sharks could not manage any offence despite Deloitte winger Dan Florek’s miss on the open goal.
Co-captain Mike Hall, the leading playoff scorer, was disappointed in his lack of blocked shots in the final, but thrilled to win his second national ball hockey championship.
“Scoring a goal is great, but it’s not the same when I don’t have a huge bruise to show off,” Hall said. “Can’t complain though, it was a great season. Everyone battled, we have a great group of guys and it’s an amazing feeling to win it all.”
Hall also gave special mention to the league’s most improved player, Mathieu Santerre and the regular season’s top scorer, Leo Kassam.
“Chewy works really hard, he never missed an optional stair training session and he got better and better all year. If he keeps it up, he is going to be a dominant player next season. Leo was probably the Most Valuable Player this year. Every time he was on the floor, we had scoring chances. Playing with him and Brent (Forsyth), I think we had the best line in the league.”