Historic night as Ice Blacks win back-to-back hockey titles
Piggybacking on their game one success, the New Zealand Ice Blacks have captured the Trans-Tasman Challenge Cup presented by Queenstown Resort College with their 5-3 victory over the Australia Mighty Roos.
Australia struck first, courtesy of an early loose-puck goal swept into the net by Patrick Nadin. However, the Ice Blacks weren't down for long, as the dynamic top line duo of Liam Stewart and Matt Schneider combined for a gorgeous tying goal shortly thereafter. New Zealand goaltender Csaba Kercso Magos left a few juicy rebounds lingering in the crease, and finally Australia were able to poke another over the goal line as Jonathan Bremner batted a quick goal in after a series of attempts.
The Roos were dominant for the remainder of the period, but all that possession time was for nothing as the final goal of the period was scored by the Ice Blacks. Debut Ice Black Ondrej Kozak drifted into the offensive zone and patiently outwaited both his defender and goalkeeper Charlie Smart to dish the puck to Ben Gavoille. The horn blew with the score knotted up 2-2.
The second frame started with an early power play for Australia, and high-scoring skater Wahebe Darge combined with Kai Miettinen for the go-ahead goal, sending the Roos up 3-2. New Zealand leapt on the opportunity to tie things up on the power play however, with Matt Schneider scoring his second of the game down low on the man advantage. The Ice Blacks weren't done with their second-period scoring yet as Kozak and Gavoille combined for their second goal of the game, a beauty of a top-shelf goal that's certainly going to make the rounds on the highlight reels.
The third period was shorter on goals but not on action, with tempers threatening to simmer over as both teams threw some big hits. Australia got some power-play opportunity but weren't able to convert. In fact, the only goal of the period came courtesy of Liam Stewart, who sailed into the Roos zone past all four defenders for a beautiful solo effort goal that put the Ice Blacks up 5-3. Despite the Roos' continued efforts, by the time the final whistle blew that remained the score.
This marks the first time New Zealand have ever won back-to-back hockey titles over their Australian rivals, and now with one game remaining the Roos will attempt to avoid the sweep.