The Suncoast Flyers claimed the 2003/04 Men's A-division hockey championship after a thrilling 1-0 overtime win over the Rangers last Friday night at the Sunshine Coast Arena.
The Flyers won the best-of-three series two games to none and capped off a great playoff run, going undefeated with a 4-0 record.
The Flyers had the best chance to score in the first period as Taylor Watters was sent in on a breakaway with six minutes to play in the frame, but Rangers' goalie Garret Marshall stopped him cold.
Both teams had power play opportunities in the second and third periods but just couldn't find a way to beat Marshall or Flyers' goalie Kris McKinney. It was on to overtime.
Blake Randall scored the winning goal on a two-on-one break seven minutes into the extra session. Randall put a great move on Marshall and slid a backhander home for the winner.
Marshall and McKinney were both rock solid throughout the contest, each making a number of outstanding saves.
But the Flyers win was overshadowed by an incident following the winning goal.
Flyers' player Paul Johnson immediately made a run at Marshall and a fight broke out. Paul's brother Drew also got involved and a Rangers player's head was cut.
Both teams and officials broke up the melee, and Paul was tossed off the ice. Both players were assessed fighting majors and match penalties.
The incident has left a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths. The league will be meeting in the near future to decide disciplinary action against the two players.
"It was probably as exciting a game to play as it was to watch," said Rangers' team rep Peter Leverman. "Unfortunately the game was marred by the incident at the end. To me it took away from the enjoyment of a great game and a great series."
Leverman said the incident stemmed from an earlier altercation between the players in the third period.
"There were things said during the game, and emotions were high, but that's still no excuse for what happened," Leverman said.
Leverman said despite what happened in the final game, he was happy with how the team played throughout the playoffs"We were on such an emotional lift after we beat the Inlet Raiders, it was like winning the cup right there," Leverman said. "Maybe we took the Flyers too lightly. They played a hard series and deserved to win."
Flyers team rep Cody Munson said for a brand new team this year, they surprised a lot of people.
"No one thought we could win, with such a young team, but we pulled it off," Munson said. "To go undefeated in the playoffs is pretty exciting. When the Rangers had a two-man advantage in the second period, it wasn't looking too good, but we killed off the penalties, and I think that was a turning point in the game."
As for the fighting incident, Munson said the team hasn't talked much about it.
"It's bad that it happened," Munson said. "Things went wrong - they were at each other during the game. I don't want to bad-mouth anyone or say anything bad about my teammates. The incident is over, and as a league we'll have to meet and discuss things."
League spokesperson Tom Poulton said he didn't know whether a meeting would be held now or in September when the new season starts.
"All the league reps will meet and as a league will vote and decide what's going to happen," Poulton said. "The two players are suspended indefinitely because of the match penalties and because it was their second fight. Whatever happens next will be up to the league reps to decide."
The Men's B-division champion was also decided last weekend in equally exciting fashion as the Grizzlies knocked off the Cutters 3-2 last Saturday night.
Todd Creed scored a pair for the Grizzlies, while Ryan Daly added a single. Michel Grondin and Dean Miles each added a pair of assists.
Kelly Cousins scored one of the Cutters goals.
For more information about next Saturday's year-end awards night, check out the advertisement on page B8.