Hastings crowned national champions

Hastings Predators celebrate their victory at the UK Floorball Federation National Finals. Picture courtesy Derek Young Photography
Hastings Predators celebrate their victory at the UK Floorball Federation National Finals. Picture courtesy Derek Young Photography

Hastings Predators Floorball Club is celebrating after being crowned national champions.

Predators beat off competition from seven other leading clubs to triumph at the UK Floorball Federation National Finals in Perth, Scotland.

Hastings Predators in action at the UK Floorball Federation National Finals. Picture courtesy Derek Young Photography

Hastings Predators in action at the UK Floorball Federation National Finals. Picture courtesy Derek Young Photography

Club spokesman Kaspars Maksimovs said: “It’s such a great achievement for the whole club, I still can’t get over it.

See also: * Hastings target glory at national finals
* Bexhill ace clocks country’s fastest time this year
* Hastings & Rother ace completes tough sea swim event

“It’s been a long time coming. For eight years we’ve been building up the club and the last three years we’ve been runners-up.”

The eight competing teams at the two-day national finals were split into two groups of four and Predators topped group B on day one.

Predators thrashed Southern Vipers (Surrey) 12-3 in their opening match and then saw off Rhinos, from the Cotswolds, 6-3 in their second game.

Sendijs Neimanis was Hastings Predators' man of the tournament at the UK Floorball Federation National Finals. Picture courtesy Derek Young Photography

Sendijs Neimanis was Hastings Predators' man of the tournament at the UK Floorball Federation National Finals. Picture courtesy Derek Young Photography

Their last group contest ended in a 2-1 loss against London Great White Sharks, although Predators were short-handed for much of the match and both of the Great White Sharks’ goals came during the 16 penalty minutes Predators had to endure.

Predators, nonetheless, topped the group on goal difference from the Great White Sharks after both teams finished on six points.

Hastings returned the following day to see off Scottish outfit Hawick Hawks, who finished second in group A, 5-1 in the semi-finals.

That set up a final showdown against UCM/Jigsaw Foods, who beat London Great White Sharks 6-3 in the other last four tie.

Hastings Predators in action at the UK Floorball Federation National Finals. Picture courtesy Derek Young Photography

Hastings Predators in action at the UK Floorball Federation National Finals. Picture courtesy Derek Young Photography

Although Predators enjoy a good record against UCM, they knew they were in for a tough game and the first period ended level at 3-3.

UCM then opened up a 5-3 advantage, but Predators recovered to end the second period level at 6-6 before going on to triumph 9-6 as the opposition tired in the third period.

Predators’ player of the tournament was Sendijs Neimanis, who has been with the club for five years having been picked up while at The St Leonards Academy.

Neimanis - the team’s youngest player - was the joint second highest scorer at the national finals with eight goals, including four in the final, and had the second most assists of anybody with seven, meaning he was also second in the most points list with 15.

“We’ve been working so hard all season,” added Maksimovs, who weighed in with six assists. “We’ve come in with a different mindset. From three months before the national finals we had regular meet-ups in preparation. Everyone knew this year needs to be our year.”

Predators qualified for the national finals by finishing runners-up in South League Division One - three points behind champions London Great White Sharks - with 15 wins in 17 matches.

The successful squad was made up of Neimanis, Maksimovs, Arnis Lasmanis, Ashley Hills, Christopher Demierre, Gints Kapacs, Henry Adekoya, Ian Harcourt-Smith, Ivo Preiss, Jan Felcman, Lauren Edwards-Fowle, Martin Bejcek, Olga Spate, Sergejs Spats and Una Gekova.

All bar three of the players live in the Hastings area. One of the others is from Tunbridge Wells, one from Switzerland and one from Latvia. The latter is Maksimovs’ assistant in the Great Britain under-19 coaching set-up.