The 2013 AWIHL final came down to the Melbourne Ice vs. Adelaide Adrenaline, as many had predicted. Despite a loss at the hands of the Ice the day before, the results were by no means clear cut. The Ice’s victory over the Adrenaline had been narrow, possibly due to a penalty ridden first period. Both teams were in for an uphill battle for the Joan Mckowen cup, and neither was willing to give way.
If either team could learn anything from the semi-final the day before, it was that the match could come down to who can stay out of the penalty box.
These teams were fairly evenly matched – Adelaide may have more depth, but Melbourne seemed better prepared – so power plays could prove costly.
The first period started with fast, physical but relatively clean hockey, at least compared to the parade of players to the penalty box from both sides the day before.
The Adrenaline were slower to find a rhythm but once they did, they managed to force the Ice into their own end. Like the game before it, most of the first period consisted of deep offensive runs on both sides, but neither were able to find the back of the net. Unfortunately their challenge to the Ice was derailed by a pair of minor penalties, giving the Ice nearly four straight minutes of power play. A tight penalty kill by the Adrenaline kept the Ice at bay.
However once back at full strength Ice opened the scoring first after fourteen minutes of play. Another penalty kill for the adrenaline stalled their attempts to match the Ice, and the period ended with the Ice leading 1-0.
Frustration began to boil over in the second period, and it began to show in the play. On both sides the physicality began to cross the line from clean to dangerous, and many minor penalties were handed out. For the Adrenaline the minors seemed to come in twos, and they spent much of the period attempting to kill a three on five or three on four power play.
In brief period of five on five, Adelaide proved they were still a force as Andrea Steranko broke past the Ice’s defence to tie the game. This time it was the Ice’s turn to have their scoring hampered by a minor penalty, and the period ended 1-1.
The start of the third proved what a force both teams could be at even strength, as both managed to score in the first half of the period. First Frances McPhail took the lead back for the Ice, but the Adrenaline had their answer ready by a rush from Kirsty Venus. Most of the period was a tense battle for possession as the score was locked 2-2.
Unfortunately for the Adrenaline frustration seemed to get the better of them, and after a series of heated exchanges, they found trying to kill a five on three yet again. Even then they couldn’t pull themselves together. After a scrum in front of Adelaide’s net, the tension came to a head on both sides Kirsty Venus became the third Adrenaline player in the box after punching Shona Green to the ice.
Having three players in the box added to Adelaide’s troubles as they faced let another lengthy three on five penalty kill. Unfortunately one of the penalty box attendants added to the confusion as they released an Adelaide player prematurely, and a stoppage in play was needed to sort it out.
After a brief meeting of the officials, play was resumed but Adelaide was still faced with a lengthy power play.
Despite being forced into their end for the penalty kill the Adrenaline managed to stifle Melbourne’s scoring chances for the most part. However the Ice did eventually break through by a Nicole Tritter slap shot. In the remaining minutes of the period they made several deep runs into Adelaide’s zone but a calm and collected Claudia Tom kept them out, deflecting several powerful shots including one square in the mask that had her shaking her head to reposition her helmet.
In being tied up keeping the ice out of their zone, the Adrenaline could not answer back and the game ended with a Melbourne Ice victory of 3-2.
As the 2013 Joan Mckowen cup champions, the Melbourne Ice have won their third AWIHL championship since the beginning of the AWIHL competition. Despite falling in the standings, the Adelaide Adrenaline had a silver medal to celebrate, and a promise to come back stronger than ever in 2013.