DUBAI // Tristan MacLaggan was the toast of his team last night, scoring twice to help the Dubai Mighty Camels end their jinx in the finals of the Emirates Hockey League.
The Camels have finished runners-up in the last two seasons despite starting the best-of-three finals with a win, but they held together in the deciding third tie last night at the Dubai Mall to beat the Abu Dhabi Storms, the defending champions, 3-2.
"Very good to get the trophy," said MacLaggan, who scored the Camel's second and third goals.
"We worked very hard as a team, worked hard between the whistles and we came together as a team here at the end, which really made the difference."
Kareem Hamza put the Camels ahead half way through the first period, but, with only 23.7 seconds left on the clock, Ali Al Haddad equalised for the visitors.
The Camels were again in the lead through MacLaggan in the second period, but a string of penalties left them with two men short for more than five minutes in that period.
The Storms, supported by a lively entourage of travelling fans, took advantage and Yannick Wong, with assistance from Matti Faggerstrom and Juma Al Dhaheri, levelled the scores again.
However, the visitors could not reply to MacLaggan's second of the night, which came with eight minutes still to play, and the Camels celebrated wildly after the final whistle.
"That's what makes a team, when you stick together in the end there," MacLaggan said about the tense moments in the second period. "We were lucky to break up our goals and we came home strong. So a great team effort tonight."
The Storms were not happy with the refereeing and Khalid Mubarak Al Ghubaisi, the team manager, said: "The referee made a lot of mistakes and we are going to send our report on that.
"Of course, we cannot do anything now, but for next season we will come back with a much stronger team, get more good players and fight to get back our title."
However, Faggerstrom, the Storms forward, did not find much fault with the officials and believes they should have finished off the game in the second period when they had the numerical advantage.
"We should have scored two goals then and killed the game," he said. "We couldn't do our best. We were playing at 75 per cent. So that's what we get."
As the Storms rued their missed chances, Ron Murphy, the Camels captain, was elated to finally get his hands on the trophy after missing out in the last two seasons.
"This is the best feeling I've had in a long, long time," he said. "It was amazing. It was a really close game, lot of penalties, but our hard workers, our grinders won it for us.
"It was a low scoring game and our guys had to work really, really hard. We had our hard hats on and we won for once. So feels awesome."
Murphy said after the victory that the team intended to celebrate long into the night.
"We have been here three years in a row and finally feels good in game three to actually take the trophy home," he said. "In my opinion, we had the better team all year round and we finally put it together.
"We faced a bit of adversity with a few penalties in this game, but our team stepped it up.
"Our goalie, Matt Jones, played fantastic and our best players were the best players today. So it's a good team effort."