Hull Pirates deny Sheffield Steeldogs again before both switch sights to target NIHL play-off glory

HULL PIRATES will head into next week’s NIHL Final Four Playoff Weekend in Coventry gunning for a treble.

Hull's players celebrate their North One playoff success against Sheffield Steeldogs. Picture courtesy of Hull Pirates.

Jason Hewitt’s side once again proved the nemesis of Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Steeldogs, prevailing 13-9 over two legs to win the North One play-off title.

The two teams now head to the SkyDome Arena on Saturday, with Hull taking on Bracknell Bees and Sheffield facing off against Peterborough Phantoms, who last night won the South One play-off title with a 13-8 aggregate win over their rivals from Berkshire.

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Further north was nothing to separate the two sides at Ice Sheffield where, much like their league title decider last month, goals and incidents were in no short supply.

A frenetic game ended 7-7 before Hull made home ice count 24 hours later to take the tie overall thanks to a 6-2 win.

On Saturday, in a game littered with penalties for both teams, it was Sheffield who got out in front first, taking a 2-0 lead through Duncan Speirs and Alex Graham, only for Hull to be level by the 18th minute through a Bobby Chamberlain double.

The hosts got their noses in front again soon after, however, when Speirs grabbed his second at 18.15 which is how it stayed until the end of the first.

It was to prove a night to remember for Chamberlain when he scored two power play goals in the second period, sandwiching an effort from Sheffield's Jamie Scott at 26.34, twice levelling for his side to make it 4-4 at the halfway mark.

Hull Pirates player-coach, Jason Hewitt. Picture: Hull Pirates.

Once again, though, Sheffield got their noses in front, Graham grabbing his second at 31.31 to give the Steeldogs a lead they looked like holding until the end of the period until Lee Bonner popped up at 38.42 to level matters.

An incident-packed third saw Chamberlain ejected for a check to the head at 43.42 before Alex Graham and Pirates' James Archer also received their marching orders after a flare-up at 49.44.

In terms of the scoring, power play strikes from James Spurr (44.22) and Nathan Salem (50.02) looked to have given the hosts a significant advantage as the game entered the final two minutes, but Hull came roaring back to level with two strikes just 17 seconds apart.

The first came from defenceman Lee Haywood before player-coach Hewitt showed perfect timing to give his side momentum as they headed back home for the return leg.

Sam Towner gave the Pirates a seventh-minute lead, although that was cancelled out within five minutes by a Nathan Salem strike against his former club.

Matty Davies restored Hull's advantage at 17.07 and the game was effectively over as a contest after the hosts raced into a 5-1 lead with second-period strikes from Sonny Karlsson (2) and Hewitt.

The Steeldogs got on the board again through Scott at 48.20, only for Hewitt to clinch his hat-trick and restore the four-goal lead 28 seconds later, an advantage they never relinquished.