[img_assist|nid=8120|title=De Nooijer with daughter (hockey.nl)|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=200|height=135]EHL Final Four hosts HC Bloemendaal have been crowned Euro Hockey League champions for a second time after winning a pulsating final against KHC Dragons of Belgium. The team lead by retiring legend Teun de Nooijer – who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player in his final playing season – defeated the Dragons 2-0, with Rogier Hofman scoring both of the goals. The result gave Bloemendaal their second EHL title, adding to the one that they claimed in 2009.
[img_assist|nid=8121|title=De Nooijer riding high|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=200|height=150]It was a fairy-tale ending for De Nooijer, who excelled in a tournament final that was played in front of a sell-out crowd that brimmed with passion and enthusiasm throughout the contest. Although the day belonged to Bloemendaal and De Nooijer, no-one will ever forget the part that defeated finalists KHC Dragons played in this season EHL. Although clearly disappointed by defeat, they have broken new ground by becoming the first team from Belgium to win a Silver medal in the Euro Hockey League. Few would suggest that they will be the last.
The home favourites started the match in determined fashion, but it was the Dragons who came closest to opening the scoring in the first quarter. Former Ireland international Stephen Butler sent a low flick shot just wide of the target, before a diving Florent van Aubel could not direct his deflection towards goal. Dragons were clearly not overawed by the occasion, and looked a constant threat on the attack thanks to the pace and creativity of their outstanding forward line.
If Dragons had the better of the first period, the second quarter certainly belonged to Bloemendaal. The host team created numerous outstanding opportunities and eventually opened the scoring through Rogier Hofman. The goal was created by Nick Meijer, who accelerated down the right wing and into the circle before sending a perfect pass across the face of goal for Hofman who completed a simple finish and sent the crowd into raptures. The Dutch giants immediately went looking for a second, and so nearly found one when Roel Bovendeert lashed a fierce reverse stick effort fractionally wide before Ronald Brouwer clipped a shot over the crossbar.
Dragons went for broke in the third period, playing a high press in a bid to break through the resolute Bloemendaal back-line. However, the home favourites coped well with the pressure, and almost doubled their lead when Ronald Brouwer forced a fine save from Dragons keeper Manu Leroy after a defensive error from Loick Luypaert.
Bloemendaal’s second goal arrived mid-way through the final quarter, and fittingly, Teun de Nooijer was the creator. The 37-year-old moved down the right before sending a perfectly weighted pass into the circle to Rogier Hofman, who made no mistake with a blistering reverse stick finish to essentially win the game. Dragons continued to fight until the very end, but it was Bloemendaal who claimed a victory that will live long in the memory.
More information can be found at www.ehlhockey.tv, the official website of the Euro Hockey League.
ABN AMRO Most Valuable Player: Teun de Nooijer (HC Bloemendaal).