Brave books Canberra's spot in the finals for the first time in Australian Ice Hockey League history

Brave books Canberra's spot in the finals for the first time in Australian Ice Hockey League history

The Canberra Brave did not exist at the start of the year, but in a few weeks the Cinderella story of the Australian Ice Hockey League will be going to the play-offs.

The Brave continued their amazing rise when they confirmed their spot in the top four with a sensational 4-2 win against the top of the table Melbourne Mustangs on Sunday night.

It is the first time a Canberra team has made the finals since the formation of the AIHL in 2000, after the Canberra Knights struggled through countless tough seasons since they lifted the Goodall Cup 16 years ago.

Brave captain Mark Rummukainen was a rookie in that team in 1998, and has been through the pain of narrowly missing the finals on several occasions.

''We were going through the points in the change-room and realised we're in ... we're ridiculously stoked,'' Rummukainen said.


''I've been here since the AIHL started, so to be in the finals is amazing, given where we've come in such a short amount of time.

''The ultimate now is to win it, but we're not getting ahead of ourselves.''

The Brave is second on the ladder, just one point behind the Mustangs, but importantly has an unassailable nine-point buffer over the fifth-placed Adelaide Adrenaline, which has only two games left in the regular season.

The Brave can now rest any players carrying niggling injuries ahead of the finals weekend in Melbourne on August 30-31.

''It's a big weight off the shoulders to have it locked in with a few games to spare,'' Rummukainen said.

''We know Adelaide is going to be desperate next weekend, so it's going to be a tough double-header down there.''

After losing 4-2 to the Mustangs on Saturday night, the Brave rose to the occasion in their last home game in front of a packed Phillip Swimming and Ice Skating Centre.

The Brave led 2-1 at the end of the first period thanks to goals from Stephen Blunden and Matt Harvey, with Cory Wilkie scoring in the second to make it 3-2 going into the final 20 minutes.

That's the way it stayed until Matt Lehoczky scored to add the icing on the cake.

Lee Gaskin is a sports reporter at The Canberra Times.

Most Viewed in Sport