After 7 years, and nearly 500 games, between playoff championships, the Flames finally put their post season frustration to rest by winning their first ever English Premier League Playoff title to close out the 2010-2011 season. As one might have expected from a winning side, a large returning contingent was quickly re-signed, 14 in all, while at the same time some significant roster adjustments were afoot. Offensive stars Martin Masa and Lukas Smital moved on to Bracknell, joined by Guildford product Rob Lamey, while Slovak netminder Miro Hala also took on the search for new employment. Spectrum’s outfit went on the hunt for some new additions and came together first with Canadian forward Curtis Huppe who was coming off a league title capture, not to mention a 50+ goal and 100+ point campaign, with Manchester Phoenix. He was joined up front by fellow countryman Greg Chambers who had just completed a 3 year contract with Coventry Blaze. To bolster the blue line, Slovak defenceman Branislav Kvetan was picked up from French side Dijon while James Hadfield, a young up and coming netminder who spent his first senior season with Swindon the year prior, agreed to join Mark Lee as part of the goaltending pair.
Looking to build on the playoff momentum from months prior, not to mention a nearly 20 game winning streak that closed out the season, the Flames took the ice in mid-September for a home and away challenge set against Basingstoke Bison and quickly had reality restored with back to back 4-3 defeats. Points not counting in the standings were hardly cause for alarm, but a stunning league and home opening 4-1 loss to Telford Tigers, making it 3 defeats on the bounce, and the only time in club history that September would close without a win of any sort, was surely not part of the plans drawn up during off season preparation.
With October, however, came better news as the club rolled out 4 wins over 5 games to start the month. They generated 15 points from a possible 20, and won all 5 games on home ice sparking optimism once again. The club would go on to stretch the home winning streak to 12 games, ultimately dropping only 3 more opportunities all season under Spectrum lights, while matching with a solid road record that qualified for first place from the end of November. They did not relinquish the table summit over the next 4 months on the way to a 5th league title capture that was finalised when Jez Lundin scored on home ice just seconds into overtime against Basingstoke Bison on March 18th. That championship was noteworthy also for its other significance. The Flames had not secured a multi trophy season in more than a decade, but by the time league’s top spot was a lock, the Cup championship flag was nearing its final destination at Spectrum thanks to a 6-3 1st leg road win over Sheffield Steeldogs just days before the league celebration. A 2nd leg 6-2 win on home ice capped a 12-5 aggregate series Cup win, and the club’s first double trophy haul since the treble of 2000-2001. To set up the cup opportunity the Flames had established the top table position at the end of the group round, earning a semi-final berth against Manchester Phoenix against whom a late 3rd period powerplay goal by David Savage, again on home ice, was the only difference in a 2 game series tied at 2 after 60 minutes and still tied at 4 on aggregate after 100.
With a pair of trophies in the bag, and plenty of excitement on the way to the silver, those expecting an end to the drama may have been disappointed as the playoff quarter final unfolded. In the quest for the Treble, a goal by Peterborough Phantoms with 5 seconds left in regulation set them up with a 3-2 lead returning to Guildford for the 2nd half of the ‘win or go home’ series. A sold out Spectrum went through the ringer 24 hours later as things got worse early with the visiting side shooting out to a 3-1 lead, 3 goals to the good on the combined score. The league and cup winners looked headed for early playoff elimination before scoring 6 times in the final 27 minutes to recover a 3 goal aggregate deficit on the way to an 8-4 win, 10-7 combined, to lock up a berth in the playoff semi-finals. The spot in the advanced round was a chance to not only defend their playoff crown, an effort that would be the club’s first ever repeat of a title, but also make a mark on the club’s historical record books with a potential clean sweep of the available hardware for the season. The Slough Jets, the eventual playoff champions, unfortunately for Flames faithful, had something to say on that subject. They erased a 2 goal semi-final deficit and de-railed the treble quest by eliminating the Flames with a 3-2 defeat, but the loss, however disappointing, could do nothing to take away from a highlight season among 20 years of activity.