Browse Tag: AWIHL Finals

Too Little, Too late for the North Star Sirens

The North Star Sirens, still smarting from a home ice loss the day before, came back to Hunter Ice Skating Stadium hungry for revenge.  They seemed well poised for a bronze medal finish – they had not finished without a medal in the AWIHL finals before, plus they had the home ice advantage. Yet just the day before they had been defeated by the Brisbane Goannas on that home ice.

North Star Sirens

Photo: Pic by Wulos.

The Goannas had gone to challenge the Adrenaline for the second grand final spot, and were only narrowly defeated 6-5.  This much improved team was standing between them and a bronze medal finish.

The Sirens turned up the aggression for this match, fighting hard to get and keep possession.  They managed to force the Goannas into their end but shot after shot on the Goannas’ net went wide.  The Goannas defence were as determined as ever, pushing back against the forwards just as hard.  In net, Kristy Bruske stood firm to deny the Sirens when needed.

Despite the offensive push from the Sirens, the Goannas opened the scoring first as Michelle Clarke-Crumpton drew out and beat Dogramaci, the Sirens goaltender.  Undeterred, the Sirens continued to struggle with the Goannas for possession and the play moved from end to end for most of the period.  Eventually the Sirens perseverance paid off, as Anna Ruut evened the score at 8.05.

Lead by top pairing of Amelia Matheson and Sharna Godfrey the Sirens kept up their attack literally to the dying seconds of the period.  After a barrage of shots Matheson slipped one past Bruske with just under 2 seconds to go.  They ended the period with a 2-1 lead.

Both the goannas and the sirens stepped up the intensity in the second period and possession was equally shared between the two.  The first half of the period remained scoreless, despite offensive rushes from both sides.  As the pressure mounted both goalies made more and more dramatic saves, to the delight of the watching fans.  In one memorable incident Dogramaci sprinted into a diving poke check well outside the crease.  Not only did she succeed in knocking the puck off Farrier’s stick, the unexpected attack sent the star forward flying over the top of her, rendering her incapable of chasing her rebound.

It took an interference penalty to Melinda White to inspire the Goannas to up the competition.  After some pressure from Sydney they managed to take advantage of a Sirens turnover to score shorthanded. Try as they might the Sirens could not break though the Goannas defence and the period ended tied 2-2.

The tone for the third period was set just thirty seconds in as Kelly Costa finished an offensive run to give the Goannas the lead.  The Goannas’ endurance seemed to wear down the Sirens, and they began to take over puck possession.  The sirens still managed to break into the Goannas’ end several times but they could not get any shots past the relentless goannas defence.

More than once the net was knocked off by a desperate Goanna trying to cut the Sirens off.  Their determination paid off with an unassisted goal from Natasha Farrier, increasing their lead to 4-2.  The Sirens found some order and finished the period with admirably aggressive play but they could not find the back of the net.  Despite pulling Dogramaci for an extra forward, the rest of the period remained scoreless.  The game ended with a 4-2 victory to the Goannas, awarding them the bronze medal.

The Brisbane Goannas have received their first medal in AWIHL history, having finished last in all previous seasons.  This well-deserved finish comes after a season of steady improvement from a team whose members come from all over Australia, and are only able to meet on game days.

Despite their disappointment of their last place finish, the North Star Sirens were gracious in defeat, and as they watched the Goannas receive their medals, many with tears of joy, acknowledged how proud they were of the Goannas for achieving such a milestone.

Melbourne Ice Take Third AWIHL Championship

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.

2013 AWIHL

Photo: Pic by Wulos.

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.