MELBOURNE – The Melbourne Ice have won the Goodall Cup for the fourth time in team history, after defeating the Canberra Brave 4-1 in the grand final of the Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL).
Chris Wong opened the scoring for the Ice in the first period in front of a sell-out crowd at the O’Brien Group Arena.
The Brave equalised through Stephen Blunden in the second period before Sebastian Ottosson restored the Ice’s lead with 30 seconds left in the frame.
Playoff MVP Ottosson then extended his side’s advantage in the third period and the Ice never looked back. Matt Armstrong sealed the championship on a breakaway to cap off a record-breaking season.
Melbourne Ice captain Lliam Webster called the win one of the best he’s been a part of.
“Words don’t do it justice. It’s amazing. We’ve been working hard all season and this is the perfect way to finish it.
“This is such a great group of guys. To win it on Father’s Day and to see everyone with their kids on the ice after the game makes it that much more special.”
Webster also lauded the effort of the Canberra Brave from the nation’s capital.
“They’ve been a force to be reckoned with all year and they’re an incredibly hard team to play against. But we were able to weather the storm and we were able to bury a few,” he said.
“I’m so proud of our guys and our whole organisation has been fantastic.”
The Brave, who defeated the Perth Thunder 6-2 in their semi-final, had to settle for their second consecutive runners-up medal.
Perennial playoff contenders, the Ice overcame local rivals Melbourne Mustangs 4-2 in their semi-final game. They have been to the final tournament every year since 2006, winning the Goodall Cup four times and runners-up twice.
The Ice finished atop the standings with a record 22 wins from 28 games played. They won twice in overtime and only lost three games in regulation time all year.
It was a well-rounded team effort, as they didn’t have a single scorer in the top 10 during the season, but had eight in the top-40 skaters, showcasing their incredible depth.
Joseph Hughes led the team in scoring with 43 points and was the second-best scorer among Australian-born players.
Goaltender Dayne Davis led from the crease, finishing the season with most wins and the best GAA of 2.33.
Davis won his third consecutive Goodall Cup after transferring in the offseason from the Newcastle North Stars, who had won back-to-back championships in 2015 and 2016.
“The first two were great accomplishments and this one was just the cherry on top,” said Davis.
“We set records this season in almost every category and to come in with that weight on our shoulders and win was amazing.
“It was tough leaving Newcastle, but I chose Melbourne for a reason. All the great players here was a big factor.”
Retiring defenceman Paul Baranzelli was grateful to end his career with a Goodall Cup win.
“I couldn’t ask for a better finish,” the 37-year-old Minnesota native said. “This year we finally got it done and I’d like to thank the fans for everything you’ve done.”
After the win, coach Charles Franzen said the club’s mission had been accomplished.
“We had a goal for the season, which was winning the last game of the year,” he said. “This team has been getting stronger and stronger from week to week.”
“I want the thank all the supporters who come to the home games and travel with us to the away games. I’m really proud to say I’m part of this Melbourne Ice family.”
Regular Season standings:
1. Melbourne Ice: 71pts
2. Perth Thunder: 57pts
3. Canberra Brave: 46pts
4. Melbourne Mustangs: 40pts
5. Sydney Ice Dogs: 36pts
6. Sydney Bears: 33pts
7. Newcastle North Stars: 30pts
8. Adelaide Adrenaline: 23pts
1. Benjamin Breault (Thunder): 58pts
2. Geordie Wudrick (Brave): 54pts
3. Dominic Jalbert (Brave): 53pts
4. Christian Oulette (Thunder): 48pts
5. Jamie Bourke (Mustangs): 47pts