For the Slough Jets 2011/12 was a special season as it saw the club celebrate their 25th anniversary. The team that Gary Stefan founded in 1986 started the 11/12 season with a new Coach as Doug Sheppard had taken over as Player/Coach.
The challenge matches proved quickly how much the league had upped in standard over the closed season but a shaky first couple of weeks were soon put aside as the Jets forged their way to the top of the table. The new look defence proved doubters wrong and combined with “Rocky” between the pipes ensured the Jets continued their good start to the season.
A player change saw Sam Waller come in to strengthen the defence from Bracknell at the end of October heading into a tough couple of months with fixtures against the top teams.
The Jets strengths were based on good goaltending and strong defence with Sheppard confident his forwards could score more than the team conceded. This philosophy worked well until just after the turn-around when Carlon’s departure left the club a forward down and injuries started taking a toll. Influential Adam Calder and Ryan Watt missed games through concussion, Darius Pliskauskas rushed back and played through injury leaving the Jets fighting for third or fourth in the final table standings.
Play-off quarter final opponents were Milton Keynes Lightning and a disappointing 7-4 road loss on Saturday set up an epic second leg at the Hangar. The Jets scored the necessary goals to pull level on aggregate to then take the overall lead only to see it nullified by a penalty shot goal with 18 seconds to go. Mindy Kieras blasted a shot past netminder Hollyhead with 54 seconds left in the extra 5 minutes to send the Jets to Coventry.
Drawn against League and Cup Champions Guildford Flames in the semi-final the philosophy remained the same as had worked through the season, defend well and back the forwards to outscore however many were conceded. The first period ended 2-0 in favour of the Flames but Ryan Watt made sure the second ended 2-1 with Slough’s first goal. The final 20 minutes saw some of the best hockey of the weekend as Aaron Connolly made it 2-2 leaving Ryan Watt to score the game winner with 4.10 left and book a place in the final.
The opponents for the final were Manchester Phoenix who beat Sheffield to take their place but scored only once while Darius Pliskauskas netted 2 and Sheppard and Calder 1 each to win the trophy 1-4 and end Slough’s 25th anniversary season as Champions.