The Melbourne Ice hosted Brisbane Goannas in the opening round of AWIHL played 29-30 October. The build up was large for the home team coming off their fourth AWIHL Championship win in a row, and the huge crowd didn’t disappoint. Without seeing the attendance numbers, it looked like the biggest regular season crowd for the Ice in many years.

With a host of new faces in the Ice team, the game started at a conservative pace against a Goanna’s line up not unlike what we saw last year. They came out hard and quickly saw opportunity to get on top of the nervous Ice outfit. Ice did however open the scoring with new import Christina Julien finding the net against the Goannas with 5 minutes remaining in the first period. Goannas were quick to respond with a goalie not 2 minutes later, with Ice following with their second 30 seconds after that. Goannas closed out the first period with their second goal leaving the score line 2-2 at the first break.

This fired the Goannas up and they came out firing in the second period with the Ice unable to put any combinations together to stop 3 Goanna goals scored by former Ice player Giblin, as well as Doig and Gray. The Ice went into the long break after the second needing to find something to come back from 5-2 down.

The third period started with more scoring from the Goannas, a second goal to Georgia Giblin putting the score at 6-2. Ice import, Julien found the net two more times giving herself a hat trick on debut for Melbourne. The Goannas sealed their win against the Ice with their final goal scored by Brittany Parkyn making the final score 7-4.

Sunday’s game saw a different Melbourne Ice team playing. With a game together under their belt, Ice started to show more cohesion and more passing. The game was scoreless during much of the first period with a new goalie for each team. Ashleigh Brown making her debut for the Goannas after years out of hockey since 2010 NWT World Championships and Tara Woods donning the Melbourne Ice uniform for the first time, having previously played under the Melbourne Dragons. Ice defensemen Rylie Padjen found the net with 1 minute remaining in the first period giving Ice a 1-0 lead.

Melbourne Ice scored a further 2 goals in the second period through last season’s AWIHL Rookie of the Year Emily Davis-Tope and captain Shona Powell. Score 3-0. The Goannas came out fresh after the long break and scored in the opening minute leaving the Ice scoreless in the final period. Final score on Sunday 3-1 to Melbourne Ice.

Round 2 of the AWIHL sees a split round over weekends of 12-13 November when Rush host the Ice and 26-27 November with Goannas hosting Sirens at Boondall. You can follow the teams on their individual Facebook pages or catch all the news and stats here.