Ice Hockey: Humberside bridge gap to top three

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The Independent Online
AFTER the final round of play-offs, Cardiff Devils, Humberside Seahawks, Murrayfield Racers and Nottingham Panthers emerged to contest the Heineken Championship at Wembley this weekend, writes Steve Pinder. The Seahawks, seventh in the league, are the only side to overturn the form book, joining the top three placed teams, but only Cardiff finished the play-offs unbeaten after Panthers' 11-5 defeat of Racers.

Seahawks made Devils work hard to maintain their unbeaten run, leading 2-1 after the second period through goals from two 17-year-olds, Gavin DeJonge and Chris Hobson, as they played three-line hockey, a tactic that will stand them in good stead at Wembley. But inevitably Devils then upped a gear for a 5-2 win.

Durham Wasps and Peterborough Pirates lost out in the relegation/promotion play-offs, and will be replaced in the Premier Division by Sheffield Steelers and Basingstoke Beavers.

A sell-out crowd of 7,800 witnessed Sheffield's 14-6 win over Slough Jets, which gave them the same number of points as Steelers. The issue thus had to be decided by the results of the two sides' meetings. One win each, so it was down to goal difference. Sheffield edged that 17-16, so Pirates were relegated by one goal.

HEINEKEN CHAMPIONSHIP Play-offs: Billingham 7 Fife 6; Bracknell 4 Humberside 6; Cardiff 13 Whitley 6; Nottingham 11 Murrayfield 5; Fife 3 Nottingham 10; Humberside 2 Cardiff 5; Murrayfield 12 Billingham 7; Whitley 11 Bracknell 4. Promotion/relegation play-offs: Basingstoke 6 Romford 3; Peterborough 9 Milton Keynes 8; Sheffield 14 Slough 6; Swindon 5 Durham 10; Durham 6 Basingstoke 5; Milton Keynes 3 Sheffield 5; Romford 10 Swindon 5; Slough 6 Peterborough 10.