Sunday, August 28, 2016 - Submitted by Mitchell Mann
The Newcastle North Stars have emerged victorious over the CBR Brave in a thrilling Grand Final showdown at the O’Brien Group Arena, with the North Stars taking a record sixth Goodall Cup in a tight 2-1 win.
The Newcastle North Stars and the CBR Brave both started the game strong, with plenty of shots, hits and near miss shots on goal.
This game had absolutely everything that you could hope for in a battle for the honour of being the top team in the league.
Both sides were determined to fight for every puck and give their all for their team mates, their club and their fans.
The Newcastle North Stars were the first to make the most of their opportunities however, with the AIHL’s top point scorer, Connor McLaughlin breaking free of the CBR Brave defence to slot home a pinpoint one-handed wrist shot past Aleksi Toivonen.
The CBR Brave had a number of top notch opportunities to equalise but the goaltending of Dayne Davis of the North Stars proved too much in the early stages of the game.
The first period action concluded with the CBR Brave on the back foot as penalties to Geordie Wudrick and Jan Safar saw the Brave on a 5-on-3 penalty kill late in the first.
The second period got underway and the Brave gallantly defended their position and were able to have a successful penalty kill.
However, the North Stars extended their lead shortly after the Brave killed off both penalties, as the strong forecheck of the North Stars led to a turnover deep in the Brave defensive zone.
Brandon Greenside capitalised on the turnover with a quick shot from short range to give the North Stars a two-goal buffer over the CBR Brave.
The game quickly became more physical as the Brave continued to be frustrated by the mammoth efforts of North Stars goalie, Dayne Davis.
The North Stars would carry the two-goal lead into the third period and looked to secure their sixth Goodall Cup.
The CBR Brave stepped on the ice to begin the third period determined not to let the Goodall Cup slip through their fingers.
The Brave threw everything at Davis, and were rewarded midway through the third period.
Dayne Davis was caught out of position and without his stick as the puck found its way to Brave danger man, Geordie Wudrick.
Wudrick made no mistake as he found the back of the net with a wicked wrist shot to the top corner.
The Brave continued to grind and work to break down the defence of the North Stars and Davis, but it wasn’t to be for the Brave this year, as the North Stars closed out the game to claim a massive 2-1 win in the season finale.
Newcastle North Stars Coach Andrew Petrie praised the effort of the team across the board.
“Everyone who wore a jersey, all year long, they deserve a lot of praise,” he said.
On winning their second successive Goodall Cup, Petrie said this year may have been "sweeter" than 2015.
"I thought it was a much harder league this year, far more competitive," he said. "Last year, people expected us to win. This year no-one did, and that makes it sweeter.”
CBR Brave Assistant Coach David Rogina said it was a heartbreaking outcome for the Canberran's in their first foray into the Grand Final.
“[It's a] tough loss; it was a good hockey game," Rogina said. "My hats off to Newcastle. Unfortunately there’s got to be a winning team and there’s got to be a losing team.”
Rogina echoed the sentiments of Petrie, praising his entire side for their fight in 2016.
“I’m really impressed with everybody on the team, from first line to fourth line, all season," Rogina said. "Everybody played well, The boys played hard, and played well, but they got the breaks and they won.”