Action from the Brave versus Ice semi-final. Photo: Tania Chalmers
The Canberra Brave's remarkable rags to riches transformation has ended one game short of the Australian Ice Hockey League grand final.
The Brave's amazing inaugural season finished with a 6-1 semi-final loss to the Melbourne Ice at the Melbourne Ice House on Saturday night.
Brave captain Mark Rummukainen said the disappointing result shouldn't diminish the team's incredible journey, rising from the ashes of the Canberra Knights to become the first Canberra team to make the AIHL play-offs in the competition's 14-year history.
"I said to the guys, everyone needs to realise it's been a fantastic year and a massive turnaround," Rummukainen said.
"I'm mostly proud of the boys, they all pulled together and worked for each other.
"I'm so happy to be a part of the team and this organisation."
The Brave had just six weeks to put together a team after the Knights pulled out of the league on February 26 this year.
A consortium including Rummukainen, All Insure director Peter Chamberlain and Jamie Wilson, owner-director of advertising agency Coordinate, buoyed by an overwhelming amount of public support with more than $27,000 in donations, got the club off the ground.
The Brave has played in front of sold-out crowds at the Phillip Swimming and Ice Skating Centre and has recorded a profit in its first season.
More than 200 supporters travelled to the Victorian capital to watch the Brave's historic finals appearance.
Trailing 2-0 at the end of the first period, the Brave conceded another goal early in the second before the league's leading points scorer, Stephen Blunden, found the back of the net off an assist from Anton Kokkonen.
The Ice regained its three-goal margin soon after and then added two more goals in the final period.
"Everyone's played big one-off games and understands you have to bring a little bit extra for a final, so I think tonight you've seen exactly what you need to bring," Rummukainen said.
"I'm not going to say guys were flat. Guys came out and went balls to the wall and went super hard, it just didn't go our way. We could've been up 3-0 in the first five minutes.
"That's the way it goes and we'll live and learn."
In the earlier semi-final, the Melbourne Mustangs progressed to the decider with a 6-4 victory against the Sydney Ice Dogs.
AUSTRALIAN ICE HOCKEY LEAGUE: Second semi-final: Melbourne Ice 6 bt Canberra Brave 1 (Stephen Blunden) at the Melbourne Ice House on Saturday night.