The Brisbane Goannas will enter the 2013 AWIHL Finals with some confidence after breaking their losing streak earlier this year. Andrew Hewitt with the preview.
Regular season form :: It may have taken them nine games in the 2012/13 season to get their but the Brisbane Goannas finally snapped their long term losing streak. With a convincing 7-3 win over the North Star Sirens at Hunter Ice Skating Stadium, the site of the AWIHL Finals, the Goannas have turned their fortunes around and now have their sights set on a Championship.
In the same weekend as their historic victory, the Goannas also pushed the Sirens to a shootout. Although losing in epic fashion, the Brisbane side showed the league that they are no longer there to make up the numbers.
Despite losing the majority of their games, the Goannas were only shutout once when they faced the Melbourne Ice for the first time in the season for a 7-0 defeat.
For all of their other games, the Goannas have scored and handsomely at that. When they scored, not once were the Goannas held to simply a single score.
This new found ability to put the puck in the back of the net helped to build confidence of the whole roster and resulted in 13 separate goal scorers as opposed to the 5 from the 2011/12 AWIHL season.
Route to AWIHL Grand Final :: The route to the Grand Final for the Brisbane Goannas is in all essence the hardest of all. Facing the home town favourite North Star Sirens first up in the second Semi Final, the Goannas must pull out all the stops.
If they are to make it through to the next stage they will face either the Adelaide Adrenaline or Melbourne Ice. Not an impossible assignment for the Brisbane side but they must come at their opposition with everything they have.
Key Players :: What a turnaround this season has been for the Brisbane Goannas. Led by Michelle Clark-Crumpton the firepower of the Goannas has more than doubled from last season.
Clark-Crumpton has been a massive boost to the Goannas this season and with 11 goals and 11 assists from just eight games this season, she must perform in the AWIHL Finals if the Goannas are to focus amongst the contenders.
As well as Clark-Crumpton, Co-Head Coach Tash Farrier has been a great addition to the Brisbane side despite dressing for just seven games.
As one of three goalies in the Brisbane roster, Kristy Bruske has saved an astonishing 222 shots and yet still retained a save percentage of .822.
In defence Captain Jemma Wallace has again shown her experience and led from the front guiding the young Goanna d-line.
Why will they win :: Anything can happen in hockey and the AWIHL Finals are no different. If the Brisbane Goannas play in the way they did last time they appeared at the Hunter Ice Skating Stadium, it’s not too far of a stretch to imagine they could take home the Championship.
If their key players can fire, and the experienced defence can hold opposing forwards at bay, the Goannas could make a surprise run for the Joan McKowen Memorial Trophy.
Where they will struggle :: Conceding goals has been a problem for the Goannas. For all the good work that their goaltenders and defence has done, the simple fact of the matter is that the Brisbane side has conceded 87 goals in just 12 appearances. If they hold off their opposition, the Goannas stand a chance but that does seem to be a large ‘if’.
Prediction :: The Brisbane Goannas can win the Joan McKowen Memorial Trophy this weekend at the AWIHL Finals, but will they? No. The task will be too much for them this time around.
The Brisbane side played their Final in the second to last round in Newcastle when they took their first win of the season and pushed the Sirens to ‘that’ shootout.
Finals are a much different beast to the regular season and the Sirens won’t let the Goannas’ repeat their outstanding February performance. This leaves the Goannas in the fight for the Bronze Medal, a fight they can win. From my personal perspective, this is what the Goannas should be aiming at. A third place finish is not to be sneezed at and would be an amazing accomplishment for a team that many thought would go through another season without a win.
By Andrew Hewitt
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