Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ice Hockey: Shaun Wants a Big Farewell; Great Britain Star Aiming to Bow out with a Trophy His 20-Year Career Should Have Ended Representing Great Britain at a World Championships. but, Shaun Johnson Tells Stuart Rayner, Winning the Play-Offs with His Local Club Will Not Be a Bad Alternative

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ice Hockey: Shaun Wants a Big Farewell; Great Britain Star Aiming to Bow out with a Trophy His 20-Year Career Should Have Ended Representing Great Britain at a World Championships. but, Shaun Johnson Tells Stuart Rayner, Winning the Play-Offs with His Local Club Will Not Be a Bad Alternative

Article excerpt

IT perhaps should have come at this month's World Championships in Austria, but there is something fitting about the fact Shaun Johnson's last competitive ice hockey game will be in the black and yellow of his home club. Having said farewell to Newcastle Arena in near-perfect fashion, Johnson hopes he can bow out as a play-off winner.

Johnson's 28th-minute goal in his home rink last week set the Vipers on their way to the Elite League's play-off finals weekend (albeit only after a penalty shots competition). The strike, which deflected off a skate and over the shoulder of Belfast Giants netminder Stevie Lyle, was his 64th in over 400 games for five different incarnations of the North East franchise.

Now the 35-year-old aims to end a 20- year career which has seen him represent Durham Wasps and Newcastle Warriors, Cobras and Riverkings in style.

Today, at Nottingham's National Ice Centre, double-winners Coventry Blaze stand between them and a second final in three years, with Cardiff Devils or Sheffield Steelers facing the winners tomorrow.

"It's always been in my mind since I announced my retirement to get to the play-offs weekend and come away with a win," admits Durham-born Johnson.

"To get there has been a big achievement, but now we want to make sure we win it. There's no other thought.

"I couldn't really have asked for much more from my last home game, except maybe to have won it outright. I got a great send-off and I was quite emotional at the end. But it comes to the time where you have to call it a day and I just felt now was the right time."

The final chapter could have been somewhat different after Paul Thompson, who doubles as Coventry's coach, selected Johnson in a provisional 34-man Great Britain squad for the World Championships. Widely regarded as the country's best defensive centre, Johnson would have been a cert for Innsbruck had he not opted out of the final squad after placing practical considerations above romance. …

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