JASON HEWITT is happy to embrace the additional pressure that will come his and Hull Pirates’ way next season after signing off on a memorable treble-winning campaign.
The East Yorkshire club completed their haul of silverware in the most dramatic of circumstances on Sunday night when they beat Peterborough Phantoms 5-4 at Coventry’s Skydome Arena courtesy of an overtime strike from forward Bobby Chamberlain.
It saw them add the NIHL Play-off title to the North Play-off Trophy won the previous weekend against arch-rivals Sheffield Steeldogs, who they also pipped to the North One league title on the final day of the regular season two weeks earlier.
Now, Hull and the Steeldogs will form part of the new 10-team National League for the start of the 2019-20 season, effectively a new second-tier beneath the Elite League.
The intention is to bring together the best clubs from North and South One in a move to ensure competitive hockey on a regular basis, something which has not been possible on too many occasions since a restructure was hastily implemented two years ago after the English Premier League was dissolved.
Hewitt enjoyed locking horns with Peterborough in a thrilling final on Sunday, as well as being seriously tested by semi-final opponents Bracknell Bees, both teams they will face next season.
If this weekend’s not a great advert for what’s to come and you’re not excited about it, then there’s something wrong with you.Hull Pirates’ player-coach Jason Hewitt
“How exciting has that weekend been?,” said player-coach Hewitt. “To get that National League back, anybody who is involved in hockey in this country – and especially at grassroots level – should be very excited about next season.
“If this weekend’s not a great advert for what’s to come and you’re not excited about it, then there’s something wrong with you.
“Of course it will bring added pressure on us – you could see this weekend most of the other fans hated us – but you can stick targets on our back, whatever, we’ll take it on.”
Hewitt, whose team are set for an additional Yorkshire rivalry in the form of a team competing out of Leeds’s new ice rink come next season, is convinced he has the right blend of youth and experience moving forward.
“We’ve got some great players coming through, Jonathan Kirk, Tom Stubley just to mention a couple,” added Hewitt. “And they are led by the more experienced guys such as Kevin Phillips, Matty Davies and Lee Haywood.
“They’ve all been amazing for me and this season, it is right up there with anything I’ve ever done in my career.”