Theebs stun the Storms; Camels wrangle Vipers in EHL semi-final openers

The Emirates Hockey League play-offs got underway with the Al Ain Theebs stunning the defending champion Abu Dhabi Storms and the Dubai Mighty Camels handling the Al Ain Vipers in the semi-finals.

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ABU DHABI // The Al Ain Theebs staged a remarkable comeback to overturn a three-goal deficit and win the opening game of their best-of-three semi-final play-off series against the Abu Dhabi Storms, the defending champions, in the Emirates Hockey League.

The Theebs went 3-0 down early in the first period on Sunday and were trailing 3-1 by the end of the opening period. But they clawed another goal back and then scored twice in the final four minutes for a 4-3 victory at the Zayed Sports City's Abu Dhabi Ice Rink.

It was a bitter pill for the Storms, who suffered a first defeat at the hands of Al Ain Vipers on FridayAl Ain Vipers on Friday to lose first place in the EHL's regular season to the Dubai Mighty Camels.

The Storms began brightly and were leading after goals from Juma Al Muhairbi, Juhani Ijjaz and Matti Fagerstrom. Rok Jakopic pulled one back for the Theebs with just over two minutes left in the first period.

Bojan Zidarovic struck the only goal of the second period to close the gap. Jakopic levelled the score in the third and set up Zidarovic to fire the winner with a minute and 50 seconds left to complete a superb win for the visitors.

The Storms travel to Al Ain on Tuesday needing a victory to keep alive their hopes of defending their title. If they can level the series, the deciding match will be played on Wednesday at the Abu Dhabi Ice Rink.

In the other semi-final game, the Mighty Camels defeated the Al Ain Vipers 6-4. The Camels are now a game away from reaching their third final.

Both series resume Tuesday.