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The Melbourne Ice have won their fourth straight AWIHL Championship after claiming the 2016 title on the back of a 7-6 shootout win against the Sydney Sirens at the O’Brien Group Arena on Sunday night. However, great crowds and fascinating games made it a weekend to remember, capped off by the epic Grand Final.
With the Ice and Sirens the strongest two teams all season, the pair played off in Semi-Final 1 with the Sydneysiders stunning the minor premiers 8-2 to book their place in the season decider. It was an impressive performance from the Sirens with Stephanie Cochrane and the competition’s leading scorer Sharna Godfrey claiming hat-tricks, while the consolation goals for the Ice were scored late in the game.
The second Semi-Final was another intriguing result with the Brisbane Goannas, who had previously only won two games all season including only one in regular time, shutting out and eliminating the third-placed Adelaide Adrenaline from Gold medal contention with a 3-0 win. The win propelled the Goannas into Semi-Final 3 early on Sunday morning where they took on the Ice.
While the 8am start may have been early, it set the stage for a high scoring day with the Ice claiming the game 7-4 over a spirited Goannas. Leading 5-1 at the end of the second period and 7-2, the Goannas push hard until the end and fought back but the minor premiers were just too strong.
For the Goannas, it was a tough loss to take, as they then had to back up against the Adelaide Adrenaline in the Bronze medal match. The two games on one day proven too much for the tenacious Queenslanders with the Adrenaline reversing the result from the second Semi-Final, winning 5-2 to take out third place.
With the minor placings determined, the Sirens and Ice turned on an absolute classic in front a 600+ strong crowd. The sides turned it on early, going to the first break at 4-2 to the Ice. By the end of the second, it had narrowed again to 5-4. The Sirens started well in the third, with Kath McOnie scoring the equaliser, before the leagues’ leading scorer Sharna Godfrey added a powerplay goal to complete her second hat-trick in as many finals games and give the Sirens the lead for the first time in the final. But with 10 minutes to go, the Ice weren’t going to die wondering, evening the score at 6-all with just under five minutes remaining through Rylie Padjen. Unable to break the deadlock in regular time and through five minutes of overtime, the 2016 Joan McKowen Memorial Trophy would come down to a shootout. Although Sharna Godfrey scored for the Sirens, goals to Kristelle Vanderwolf and Georgia Carson allowed the Ice to claim their fourth straight AWIHL Championship.
Despite the loss, it was a big night for the Sirens with the team winning four of the five season awards including:
Highest Pointscorer: Sharna Godfrey (Sydney Sirens)
Best Forward: Sharna Godfrey (Sydney Sirens)
Best Defence: Amelia Matheson (Sydney Sirens)
Best Goalie: Michelle Coonan (Sydney Sirens)
Best Rookie: Emily Davis-Tope (Melbourne Ice)