Haringey Racers were knocked out of the National Ice Hockey League Cup after a heartbreaking 4-3 defeat to Chelmsford Warriors at the Riverside on Saturday.
Coach Dan Sampson said: “To be honest I am gutted, we all are. To be the better team all night and not win is hard to take.
“I feel we were hard done by with the calls made by the referee. If we look at the bigger picture we have achieved so much this year with the big crowds ands some good hockey. We are going to finish the season strongly and I believe we can finish second in the league, which in our first season would still be brilliant.”
With the league out of their hands and all but over, the cup was Haringey’s last chance to bag some silverware in their first season.
The side were favourites to at least make it out of the group stage and into the finals weekend as they headed into their final group game at Chelmsford.
Having been shocked by the Warriors twice already this season, with a loss and a draw, it happened again when Chelmsford took an early lead in the fourth minute thanks to Sebastian Downing.
Nathan Long then doubled the hosts’ lead five minutes later and the Racers went into the first break trailing 2-0.
Haringey rallied and pulled one back in the second period.
Matt Brown was set up by former Warrior Ricky Mills at the halfway point of the game and Sam Roberts then pulled them level two minutes into the final period when he was teed up by another former Warrior, Perry Whitlock, and top scorer Drew Campbell.
The Racers had the momentum and took the lead in the 53rd minute when Campbell again set up Roberts, but Haringey’s joy was shortlived as Lewis Jone pulled Chelmsford level less than a minute later.
Tempers and nerves frayed on both sides in the desperate final minutes but a familiar theme emerged as the Racers found themselves a man short for the last two minutes and were made to pay for it yet again when Bailey Chittock scored on the powerplay and shattered Haringey’s dreams of silverware for the season.
The Racers will dust themselves off and return to league action on April 6 for their penultimate game of the year and their final home match at Alexandra Palace this season against the struggling Peterborough Islanders.