Canberra Brave skipper ready for championship 20 years in the making

Canberra Brave skipper ready for championship 20 years in the making

After a record-setting regular season, Canberra Brave skipper Mark Rummukainen says they're ready to win a championship 20 years in the making.

The Brave dropped just four games in a league record 24-win season and enter the Australian Ice Hockey League sudden-death finals in Melbourne as heavy favourites this weekend.

Canberra Brave captain Mark Rummukainen won his last title with Canberra in 1998.

Canberra Brave captain Mark Rummukainen won his last title with Canberra in 1998.Credit:Elesa Kurtz

Rummukainen lifted the Goodall Cup as a teenager in 1998 and after 20 seasons toiling in the capital, he's determined to win one more then possibly sail off into the sunset.

The Brave lost the past two AIHL grand finals and Rummukainen was forced to watch rinkside last year, after suffering a tricep injury two weeks out.


The 36-year-old said he's wrapped himself in cotton wool this week make sure he's on the ice when Canberra meet the Melbourne Mustangs in the semi-final on Saturday.


"The quality of the team we've got on the ice has given me the confidence. But we can’t count our chooks until they hatch," Rummukainen said.

"It's been a great regular season but that means nothing this weekend. It'll be all guns firing and it really comes down to us having the right mindset to put our best foot forward.

"Winning the championship would be the realisation that we can put a competitive team in Canberra, after being told for so many years we were no chance.

"To lift the Cup would be the culmination of all the hard work and hopefully it's the start of something big, the start of a dynasty in Canberra."

Rummukainen said the current team was the best he'd ever played with in Canberra and has no doubt they've got it takes to deliver the breakthrough title.

"Yep, 100 per cent. There have been some decent years more recently but this is the best group of guys as a collective I've played with," Rummukainen said.

"The results speak for themselves, it's just a great group of guys having fun together. It would be fantastic for us older guys to finally win one and the younger guys to realise what they've achieved."

The Brave are riding an 11-game winning streak and haven't dropped a game in eight weeks, but two of their four defeats this season came against the Mustangs.

"The harsh reality of the finals is you can have a fantastic regular season but then a few unlucky bounces and calls go against you and it's all over very quickly," Rummukainen said.

"One game and you either move on or pack your bags and go home. Our regular season shows consistency all year but doesn't mean much this weekend.

"I’d like to see a home and away finals series rather than location-based weekend away. But time and finances are a big thing and that’s the battle we’re fighting."

As for whether he'll hang up the skates if the Brave win this weekend or help build a dynasty, Rummukainen wouldn't commit either way.

"We'll wait and see, it could be my last game. To go out a winner would be awesome but I've only been back playing for a month and haven't played the way I’d like to personally," Rummukainen said.

"I’d still like to get back to playing to the best of my ability, but I'm not sure if I'll go again next season. I really don't know."


Saturday: Canberra Brave v Melbourne Mustangs in Melbourne at 3pm.

Saturday: Perth Thunder v Sydney Bears in Melbourne at 6pm.

Sunday: Grand final at 3pm.

Eamonn Tiernan is a sports reporter with The Canberra Times

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