SEASON OVERVIEW – 2012 was all about the 3PEAT for the Ice and they duly delivered that in one of the most intense grand finals ever seen in this country. The Ice finished first in the Easton Conference on fifty one points (with fifteen regulation and three overtime wins from twenty four matches) and was second overall in the league just one point behind their grand final opponent Newcastle North Stars.
They went into the finals as the underdog, something that would be rare for a two time defending champions, given Newcastle had defeated them in both their match ups during the season and were at home. However the Ice showed their true champion quality to get up and win a third successive Goodall Cup.
They disposed of the Sydney Ice Dogs with relative ease, 6-2 in the semi final after a stellar first period. The game was put away early and they were able to prepare for the final. On reflection, that easier semi final helped them the next day. After falling behind 0-2 in the opening period the Ice was able to come home strongly, scoring four unanswered goals before hanging on as the North Stars made a frantic attempt to tie the scores.
FORWARDS – The Ice had quality all over the rink, no more than in the forwards. They had four of the top twenty leaders in scoring. Matt Armstrong had a sensational season, finishing third with fifty one points (twenty three goals and twenty eight assists), earning himself an MVP nomination in the process.
Jason Baclig and Joey Hughes were just outside the top ten, with forty five and thirty eight points respectively. Both missed parts of the season owing to injury and suspension.
Lliam Webster also had a great season, scoring thirty points, including two goals in the grand final, a great output for a player that alternates between forward and defense.
Add to all this the quality of import Matt Korthuis (twenty six points) and Tommy Powell (twenty two points) and you have a very potent offense.
DEFENSE – The defense of the Ice was also first class. While being led by captain Vinnie Hughes, the class and experience of import Doug Wilson Jnr and finals MVP Todd Graham gave the Ice confidence that their goalkeepers would not be exposed and also provided vital scoring, with both players scoring almost twenty points, some coming at vital times.
The depth in defense was highlighted by the fine seasons of back up players Marcus Wong, Greg Sturrock and Dylan Moore. Moore, returning to the club in 2012, provided an extra experienced mobile defender and was a key plank to the defense.
GOALIES – The Ice had two quality goalies in Stu Denman and Dahlen Phillips. While Denman was the starter and played in the big games, including the finals, Phillips was a sensational back up and played some key games.
Both goalies had save percentages above 86.5% and conceded three goals or under per game. These numbers are outstanding and went a long way towards delivering the Goodall Cup to the Ice yet again.
SEASON HIGHLIGHT AND LOWLIGHT – Clearly the biggest highlight of the season was achieving the 3PEAT, something that has never been done before in the AIHL. The emergence of players such as Chris and Marcus Wong, Dylan Moore and Dahlen Phillips was also a highlight and added to the Ice’s depth as they had long periods where they had to cover the loss of key players.
There were a couple of lowlights. One was the home shutout loss to the Gold Coast Blue Tongues, the first time the Ice had been shut out in the Medibank Icehouse. The second was the spanking they received at home 6-3 by the Perth Thunder. Going into the last month of the season the Ice looked anything but a championship team as the Thunder, in particular the duo of Kenny Rolph and Phil Ginand ran rings around them.
The high levels of injuries, PIM’s and suspensions will be something to address for the team as they chase a fourth consecutive Goodall Cup in 2013.
Patrons’ award: Margaret Skillicorn
LOOK AT NEXT SEASON – The Ice is in a state of transition, following the departure President Andy Lamrock, Head Coach Paul Watson and goalkeeper Denman since the grand final victory. All three have been key members in the club’s history.
Lamrock will no doubt have a succession plan in place for himself and another quality administrator will take his place, however the identity of the new coach is an interesting topic. They have a ready made replacement in Assistant Coach Sandy Gardiner, however they may decide to change things up a bit and go for someone outside the club to bring fresh ideas and a new hunger to chase the 4PEAT.
A number of questions remain on the playing group. There is a possibility that Baclig and Armstrong could be playing as Australians by the opening of the 2013, which would open up two import spots on the roster.
One of these spots could be used to bring in an import goalkeeper to replace Denman, if the Ice decide that 2012 back up Phillips is not ready to step up to the starting position.
The majority of the current roster should return in 2013 with the only question being the return of imports Korthuis and Wilson.
It will be a brave person to bet against them being there at the point end of the season yet again in 2013.
by Chris Meister
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