The AWIHL Finals were held over the weekend with the Melbourne Ice defeating the Adelaide Adrenaline in a thrilling Grand Final while the Brisbane Goannas broke through for their first ever AWIHL medal, beating out the North Star Sirens for Bronze. Andrew Hewitt with more.
After intense Semi Final day which saw the Ice progress directly to the Gold Medal Game and the Goannas earn the right to play the Adrenaline for the remaining spot, Sunday’s AWIHL Finals action was bound to be explosive.
First would be the Qualifying Final that would be fought out between the Adelaide Adrenaline and the Brisbane Goannas. Defeating the home town North Star Sirens on the previous day, the Brisbane Goannas were confident in taking more scalps.
The Goannas were unable to replicate their heroics from Saturday night however they did not go down without a fight narrowly missing out on a spot in the Gold Medal Game losing 6-5 to a spirited Adrenaline side.
All was not lost for the Brisbane side as they were still in the hunt for a medal, taking on the Sirens again, this time for a Bronze Medal.
The Goannas had been in this position in previous seasons however with the confidence gained from their wins this season, hopes to breakthrough were buoyed.
As they had done in their Semi Final, the Goannas skipped out to an early lead. With the Sirens squandering opportunities in front of net and some great tending from Brisbane net minder Kirsty Bruske, the Brisbane side remained in control.
Sirens goal tender Sera Dogramaci did well to keep the Goannas at bay however at the midway point of the second Brisbane broke through to level it at two.
Early in the final period, with Bronze and a slice of history on the line the Goannas’ Kelly Costa scored giving her side the edge.
Rushing the net had been a successful tactic used by the Goannas this season and it again paid off as it began to rattle the Sirens defence. This resulted in Co-Coach Tash Farrier to score unassisted giving the Goannas a two goal buffer.
Despite their attempts, the Sirens were unable to breakdown the Goannas defence and the Brisbane side were able to hold on for a historic 4-2 Bronze Medal winning victory. The Goannas celebrated as though they had won Gold and rightly so with congratulations coming from all points of the Australian hockey community.
If this wasn’t exciting enough for the fans at the Hunter Ice Skating Stadium, the Gold Medal Game was next in a re-match of the combatants from the Semi Final.
Finishing the AWIHL season first and second respectively, the Melbourne Ice and Adelaide Adrenaline would once again fight it out for the Joan McKowen Memorial Trophy.
With fast and furious action deserving of a fight for Gold, neither team would budge until Ice Captain Shona Green struck in the final minute of the opening period. Shortly after it had appeared that the Ice had doubled their lead, however it was disallowed and the score remained 1-0 at the intermission.
Interest in the AWIHL Gold Medal Game was not only the focus in Newcastle with over 100 people tuning in via the live stream of the the game made available by the Newcastle North Stars.
Able to overcome an earlier 5-on-3 situation, the Adrenaline fought back and leading scorer Andrea Steranko tied the Final at one shortly before the end of the second.
Not long into the deciding term, the Ice’s leading scorer Frances McPhail gave her team the go ahead goal slotting one past Adrenaline goalie Claudia Tom.
Again coming from behind, the Adrenaline levelled the game at two with neither team able to establish ascendency.
With 10:15 left on the clock, play stopped as confusion grew over awarded penalties. The break continued for a few minutes allowing the players to catch their breath ensuring a blistering final 10 minutes.
Less than 45 seconds after the return, Nicole Tritter put the Melbourne Ice ahead 3-2 with a shot that sailed straight past Tom.
A timeout was called with 5 minutes remaining but it was not enough for the Adelaide side as the Melbourne Ice hung on for a famous 3-2 victory, winning the AWIHL title for the second time in three seasons.
Valiant in defeat, the Adrenaline took Silver while in what is arguably bigger news than the Ice winning the title, the Brisbane Goannas took Bronze.
By Andrew Hewitt
[twitter-follow username=”awhewy” scheme=”dark”]
[twitter-follow username=”HewittSports” scheme=”dark”]