Outgoing Coventry Blaze coach Paul Thompson saw his hopes of a fairytale finale come to an end following a 5-1 defeat to Belfast Giants in the Elite League play-off semi-final.
Thompson is stepping down after 18 years with Blaze to take up a coaching position at Troja-Ljungby in the Swedish second division at the start of the 2013/14 season.
He is the longest-serving head coach in Europe and has guided the organisation to 15 major trophies at all levels of the British game. He helped the club win four Elite League titles and capture the Grand Slam in 2004/05.
But Blaze were left stunned by a three-goal first-period burst by Giants with Daymen Rycroft netting the opener on the powerplay at 13.37 before two quickfire markers from ex Sheffield Steelers forward Colin Shields (17.27 powerplay) and Craig Peacock 26 seconds later.
Greg Stewart hit a post for Giants in the second period while goaltender Stephen Murphy stood firm to deny Adam Henrich before he was finally beaten at 37.02 by teenager James Griffin.
Noah Clarke (44.48) and Peacock (58.19) notched final-period strikes as Giants, the league runners-up, set up a final date with treble-chasing Nottingham tomorrow evening.
Blaze will meet Cardiff Devils, beaten 6-3 by Panthers earlier in the day, in the third/fourth-placed play-off at lunchtime.