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It had been a long time coming, but the Aalborg Pirates are Danish champions again. The last time that happened, it was a world in which there was no Indiana Jones or Donkey Kong, Kool and the Gang’s Celebration climbed the charts, and Lars Ulrich hadn’t yet founded Metallica.
In other words, it was a different world, a long time ago, long before Aalborg Ishockey Klub became the Pirates and even before the merger between AaB Ishockey and IK Aalborg when hockey was just another sport under AaB’s umbrella.
In 2018, the wait is over as the Pirates beat the Herning Blue Fox from the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship co-host city 4-2 in the final.
“This is unbelievable. I don’t know if it’s the third or the tenth time that’s the charm but now we can finally get rid of the shadow that’s been over us for so long,” said forward Julian Jakobsen, who scored twice in the last final.
The Pirates had three straight quarter-final losses behind them, and the team hadn’t made the final since 2010.
“This means so much for the entire city. The fans have had to endure so many bitter losses, and we have a trainer who’s worked with the team for twenty years and this is the first time he gets to celebrate a championship,” Jakobsen said.
If a team plays 66 games, and only loses 18 of them, you could consider it a great season. Unfortunately for Danish Herning Blue Fox, the last four losses came in the final series against Aalborg Pirates.
Like so many times in so many leagues before, the Danish final came down to a matchup between the regular-season winner and the runner-up. In Denmark, the runner-up had the last laugh.
Herning won the regular season title with a 15-point margin before the Pirates and cruised to the final dropping only two games in the quarter-final and the semi-final. In the final, however, the Pirates grabbed a hold of the series early on, jumping on to a 3-0 lead and while the Blue Fox managed to get to Game 6, that was all they had left in the tank. The Pirates won the last game 6-1.
"It's a huge relief for us. The media has made a big deal out of the fact that it had been so long since our last title,” assistant coach Ronny Larsen told Danish TV2.
Maybe the pressure got to the Pirates, who lost two in a row just as they were supposed to clinch the title.
“I think that, even though we lost those games, we were always the better team in the series. We’ve played good hockey throughout the playoffs,” said Larsen.
“By January, we really started to believe in ourselves.”
In Game 6, the Pirates took control of the game from the first shift on, scoring two goals in 4:22. Herning had surely planned on rallying back from 3-1 after two periods, but the Pirates scored their fourth goal just three minutes into the period, and could then spend the rest of regulation time getting used to the idea of being a champion.
The Pirates also won the Danish Cup this season.