Sport

Canberra Brave retains trio of imports to boost Australian Ice Hockey League title hopes

Some quick talking from Canberra Brave management has prevented the team's Australian Ice Hockey League title campaign from being derailed.

The Brave was set to lose the competition's joint leading scorers Stephen Blunden and Mathieu Ouellette, and first-choice goalkeeper Petri Pitkanen, to their overseas clubs before the end of the AIHL season.

Mathieu Ouellette is joint top-scorer in the AIHL with teammate Stephen Blunden.
Mathieu Ouellette is joint top-scorer in the AIHL with teammate Stephen Blunden. Photo: Melissa Adams

However, all three of the key imports will remain until the finals series at the end of August, starting with this weekend's top-of-the-table double header against the Melbourne Mustangs at the Phillip Swimming and Ice Skating Centre.

Blunden and Ouellette were set to depart to France while Pitkanen was scheduled to resume with a club in his native Finland.

Brave point-scoring machine Stephen Blunden has been retained for the rest of the season.
Brave point-scoring machine Stephen Blunden has been retained for the rest of the season. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

The Brave came to an agreement with their respective teams on Thursday to allow them to continue their charge to the championship.

Fellow import Anton Kokkonen said the retention of the trio would be a massive boost to the team's title hopes.

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"It's great news for the entire club given those guys have been such key players for us,'' Kokkonen said.

"Having those three players in the line-up is going to help us massively.

"Saying that, there are three or four teams than can win the title, and because the play-offs are one game, anything can happen.''

Brave chairman Peter Chamberlain said the issues came about when the roster was assembled quickly after the demise of the Canberra Knights.

''We’ve been aware that some of our imports had commitments elsewhere from mid-August,'' Chamberlain said.

''The guys want to finish what they started with us here and we want to keep the squad together.''

The second-placed Brave can leapfrog the Mustangs in the standings if they win both their games on Saturday and Sunday.

AUSTRALIAN ICE HOCKEY LEAGUE: Canberra Brave v Melbourne Mustangs at the Phillip Swimming and Ice Skating Centre. Saturday at 5.30pm. Sunday at 5pm.