Heading into the AWIHL Finals, the Adelaide Adrenaline will go in ranked second in the league after narrowly missing out on top spot due to goal difference. Andrew Hewitt with the preview.
Regular season form :: The Adelaide Adrenaline have had a terrific season narrowly missing out on top spot in the AWIHL standings to the Melbourne Ice on goal difference.
Finishing with ten wins out of twelve games, the Adrenaline only faltered once at home and once away and both to the Melbourne Ice.
The Adrenaline are a high scoring team that can punish any team in the AWIHL at any moment and can boast two of the top three scorers in the league.
Not only have the Adrenaline been a high scoring side in the 2012/13 AWIHL season but they have also depth in their roster. That depth will need to managed well throughout the AWIHL Finals weekend if the Adrenaline are to emerge victorious.
Route to AWIHL Grand Final :: The Adelaide Adrenaline are primed to make a run for back to back AWIHL Championships and second consecutive Joan McKowan Memorial Trophy.
After finishing second in the standings at the end of the regular season, the Adelaide Adrenaline will start their AWIHL Finals campaign with a Semi Final against last years’ Grand Finalists and league leaders, the Melbourne Ice on Saturday afternoon at 4pm.
If the Adrenaline can take the win in their Semi, they will move straight into the Gold Medal Game on Sunday and be able to take advantage of the extra rest.
If the team from the City of Churches aren’t able to get past their rivals however, they will need to play Sunday morning at 9am. Should they slip to that level their opponents will be the winner of the other Semi Final. Success here will take them into the Gold Medal game but failure will relegate them to the Bronze game.
Key Players :: The Adelaide Adrenaline will have some of the most potent forwards at the AWIHL Finals lead by the number one and number three scorers in the league in Andrea Steranko and Beth Kavanagh.
Steranko and Kavanagh have been the go to players for the Adrenaline all season with a combined 77 points (42G, 35A). When you realise that Steranko has played 12 games and Kavanagh just 10, the pair are certainly a force to be reckoned with.
As well as the ability to score goals, the Adrenaline also have a great duo in net with the ability to stop some of the league’s best attackers. Both Claudia Tom and Michelle Coonan have played six games for five wins and one loss each and save percentages above .864.
One player that will need to perform if the Adrenaline are to lift the trophy at the end of the AWIHL Finals weekend is Kirsty Venus. Despite not scoring at the same rate as some of her teammates, Venus provides leadership, tenacity and speed that will need to be exploited. Scoreless in her last four outings, Venus must lift this weekend.
Why will they win :: It’s simple, they just know how to. Once a group of people know how to win, it is something not forgotten easily. This group of Adrenaline ladies have been playing with each other for quite some time, many team mates from a successful 2011/2012 AIHL Finals campaign.
Yes, there have been a few outgoing players as well as a few new faces this season at the IceArenA but overall this is a team that knows what it takes.
Where they will struggle :: With Rylie Padjen defecting to the Melbourne Ice and Tash Farrier taking up a role as a playing Co-Head Coach at the Brisbane Goannas, the Adrenaline will not have many secrets up their sleeves.
While it is here that many think the Adrenaline will struggle, it is when they have the extra skater that the Adrenaline under perform. On the Power Play, the Adelaide side only convert 11.86% of the time; the lowest in the league. Not only are the Adrenaline not scoring on the Power Play but they have conceded four short handed goals against in the 2012/13 AWIHL season.
Prediction :: What lies ahead for the Adelaide Adrenaline side next is entirely up to them. When on song, they have proven they can beat any side in the AWIHL.
Their first matchup of the AWIHL Finals is arguably the most important of the weekend. Going up against the Ice is never and easy task and with the larger ice surface at the Hunter Ice Skating Stadium, the Adrenaline may be stretched too far by the speed of their Melbourne opponents.
This will mean that they must win early Sunday morning against either the Goannas or home town Sirens. Again, not an easy task but I think the skill of the Adrenaline will outweigh that of either side.
In the Final, it will be more of a case of fatigue with the Adrenaline having to play one extra game than the Ice. The Adrenaline will finish the AWIHL Finals as runners-up.
By Andrew Hewitt
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