Abu Dhabi Storms' Borna Silovic netted a golden goal winner against Dubai Mighty Camels to send the Emirates Hockey League (EHL) play-off to a decider on Monday.
Storms took a 2-0 lead at Zayed Sports City Ice Rink courtesy of Silovic and Alex Kovshik but the Camels clawed back to close the gap through Nabil Kamleh in the first period.
The second period ended scoreless but when the Storms looked as though they had done enough to hold on, Kamleh struck again to force the game into extra-time.
But Silovic settled Abu Dhabi nerves one minute and 17 seconds into the extra period, firing the winner off an assist from Ilya Busilka to keep the Storms’ hopes of a fourth EHL title alive when they meet in Monday's decider.
“It was a tough and closely marked game, similar to the first play-off which the Camels won, also through a golden goal,” Saeed Al Nuaimi, the Storms' UAE international, said.
“We started off well tonight to lead by two goals but lost the advantage in the latter part of the game, perhaps through complacency. However, the important thing is that we still won.
“We now have three days to regroup and put those mistakes behind us and try to win the decider. The two teams are similar in strength. We finished third in the regular season and looking forward to finish the season on a high.”
The Camels have won the EHL four times closely followed by Storms on three. Al Ain Theebs clinched the title last season.
“The EHL is getting stronger every passing year with the teams recruiting more professional players from established ice hockey nations to their squads,” Al Nuaimi added.
“In terms of development, the local governing body for the sport work closely with IIHF [International Ice Hockey Federation] and the improvements are there to be seen.”