The last league game in the 2015 Hero Hocky India League was played on Thursday at Mohali. Like the earlier two games on February 17 and 18, the Mohali match between hosts Jaypee Punjab Warriors and Dabang Mumbai turned out to be a highly entertaining affair. Mumbai played creditably but could not stop the Punjab Warriors from taking the match 3-2 in a last-minute finish. While Mumbai were already out of the reckoning from the knock-out phase of the tournament, the victory helped Punjab in finishing as table toppers in the league phase, which concluded with this match. The action will now shift to Delhi, where two semifinals and the final will be played on February 21 and 22, 2015 to bring the curtain down on the month long event that enthralled hockey fans in India and the rest of the world.
At tournament’s last league game at Mohali between host JPW and Dabang Mumbai, the fans saw a brilliant game of hockey for 60 minutes. Within 5 minutes from the start of the first quarter, DM’s Chinglensana Singh missed out on a close chance opportunity, when his shot at the goal was not too strong. But both teams fought out valiantly in the first quarter. With 3 minutes left in the session, JPW earned their first penalty corner but Sandeep Singh’s promising hit was brilliantly saved by the JPW goalkeeper. Soon afterwards, JPW earned another penalty corner but Gaganpreet Singh couldn’t convert that chance as well.
Just as the second quarter started, Mumbai went into the lead with a goal from Nick Catlin. JPW mounted some heightened pressure soon afterwards but the second quarter ended 1-0 in DM’s favor. Mumbai resumed their attacking ways as the third quarter began. They could have taken a 2-0 lead but Timothy Deavin’s shot was brilliantly saved by Jaap Stockmann and Sandeep Singh cleared the ball. Soon JPW were awarded another penalty corner but Sandeep Singh’s red-hot shot found the bar much to Mumbai’s relief. In the 37th minute, however, a Sandeep Singh cross found Jake Whetton at the right spot in front of the goal and Whetton gave no chance to the JPW goalkeeper. With equalizer secured, JPW came into full flow and forced a Penalty Stroke in 44th minute and Sandeep Singh made no mistake and third quarter ended with 2-1 in favor of JPW.
As the last quarter began, Mumbai mounted a charge at JPW goal to find the equalizer. In fact, a fiery shot from Bharat beat Stockmann but unluckily for Mumbai the ball struck the post. DM had another penalty corner opportunity in the 53rd minute and this time Harmanpreet Singh got the ball past the world’s best goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann to draw the score level at 2-2. With minutes left, the match gained momentum and DM earned one more penalty corner in the 57th minute but this time Harmanpreet couldn’t control the ball. In the 59th minute, JPW scored from a superb field goal by Kieran Govers after the ball was brought to DM’s goal area by brilliant passing between Jamie Dywer and Simon Orchard. JPW’s last hurrah and the 3-2 win took them to the top of the league table and they will take on Delhi Waveriders in the semifinal on Saturday at Delhi. In the other semifinal on the same day, Ranchi Rays will fight out with UP Wizards also at Delhi.