The Slough Jets who started 2009/10 bore little resemblance to the team that finished the previous season. New coach Peter Russell was appointed early in the summer and set about building a new team for the new season. Russell was joined by assistant player/coach Jan Melichar and when the ‘C’ and ‘A’s were announced as Blaz Emersic and the Greener brothers the leadership unit was complete.
The traditional year on year increase in standard in the EPL was further strengthened with the addition of Tony Hand and the Manchester Phoenix and Steve Moria taking the helm at the new EPL Basingstoke Bison. With Milton Keynes suffering little change of personnel in the summer and both Guildford and Manchester also hotly tipped Slough didn’t start the season as favourites.
Ahead of competitive action Slough Jets tested themselves against Swindon and Peterborough which gave the new nucleus a chance to gel and get some game time under their belts before the season proper started.
The season proper started with a clinical 9-0 demolition of nearest neighbours Bracknell Bees and a win on the road at Peterborough which saw them end the first week as league leaders. A tougher challenge followed as Slough got to test themselves against one of the tipped teams when they took on Guildford Flames and the OT loss gave them a good idea of what they needed to do if they were to stand a chance at honours in the season.
The first complete month of the season saw the Jets achieve 5 wins and 3 losses including wins over Guildford, Milton Keynes and Manchester and still holding steady in the league table. Russell moved to strengthen the team and a change of personnel saw Slava Koulikov joining the Jets from EIHL Hull Stingrays.
November went 6-2 was another successful month for the Jets at they began to show the league that the pre-season predictions may not be the final table positions after all. During the month Callum Best requested his release.
The Jets continued their good form into December and this included three wins out of three while Russell collected Gold with the GB Under 20s. Finding the last game of 2009 at Romford postponed was an omen of what was to come later in the season.
The New Year turnaround saw more strengthening of the team with the signing of Ryan Watt who made his debut after the Christmas break. With three months left in the regular season it started to become clear that despite not being one of the pre-tipped favourites the league title race was coming down to a battle between Milton Keynes and Slough. With the conclusion of the outstanding cup games Slough also took a place in the cup semi-finals with a draw against Guildford. Also clear by this point was the stand out season that the Captain Emersic was having as he topped the scoring stats while leading the team admirably.
Russell swooped again to strengthen the squad with the signing of Andy Munroe and later a netminder swap with Romford seeing Joe Myers join the squad too.
February proved to be the toughest month of the season for Slough with one already scheduled midweek fixture being joined by the rescheduled Romford game from before Christmas and midweek home and away semi-final matches in the cup competition meaning Slough played 10 games in 13 days. Down one import with Jasik out injured and facing a tough ask of so many games concentrated in such a short time span the Jets stalled at the semi-final stage of the cup competition in a thrilling second leg which went to overtime and penalties and including Dave Cloutman’s first ever withdrawal from officiating after sustaining a nasty injury early in the second period.
Milton Keynes were crowned worthy champions with a week left in the season proving the benefits of retaining the majority of their nucleus over the summer but the newly formed Jets squad against the odds managed to push the league battle until the penultimate week of the season and finished above some of the pre-season favourites. The final weekend however didn’t go to plan with two defeats to their play-off opponents however with the lessons learned from these two defeats Slough Jets will enter the play offs knowing what they need to do to gain success.
We into the play-off qualifiers knowing we had to come out in top gear over the weekend against a talented Sheffield side. The games were very different from the performances the weekend before with great defence and creating lot of chances on the offence, to be honest the whole team raised their games and wanted the wins bad, and we got them against our boggy team. Over the weekend we came out 7-3 winners over the weekend and it was Coventry here we come!
We went into the Coventry weekend and drew the 2nd game against the Manchester Phoenix so we knew it was going to be a great game, but at this stage any team you play it will be tough. It was billed to be the game of the day and to be honest it lived up to its billing. Both goalies were unreal and there were lots of chance and battles. We did get some lucky at times but we deserved it and we stuck together and came out 2-1 winners in a fantastic game for everyone to watch.
On the Sunday in the Final we were up against the Guildford Flames and once again we knew we needed some big performances from everyone if we were to gain a huge win.