Canberra Brave caps remarkable year with ACT team of year award
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Canberra Brave caps remarkable year with ACT team of year award

Canberra Brave coach Rob Starke has already set his sights on creating an Australian Ice Hockey League dynasty in the capital after breaking the city's 20-year drought.

The Brave capped off a brilliant season by winning the team of the year prize at the Canberra sports awards function on Friday night, adding another punctuation mark to their return from the dead.

The Brave partied hard after their Goodall Cup victory.

The Brave partied hard after their Goodall Cup victory.Credit:Dion Georgopoulos

The Brave won a grand final epic in the AIHL decider, scoring the winning goal nine minutes into overtime to beat the Sydney Bears 4-3.

It was the culmination of journey from near extinction to the top of the league just five years after the Canberra Knights collapsed and there were fears the capital would no longer have a team.

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The Brave set goal-scoring and winning records this season, but Starke doesn't want his team to be one-hit wonders. "We want to front up and win the Cup next year," Starke said.

"There will be some added expectation and pressure to do what we did this year. But we will relish that and take every opportunity that comes our way.

"Hopefully we can get the right mix of guys, like we did have this year. We've had time to reflect on what we've done as an organisation, and it's been great. It's terrific to be recognised [as the team of the year], and very humbling.

"It's great to be recognised by the city. We've been working on team culture this year and the organisational structure, it's getting better and better. Everyone came together at the right time."

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The Brave were recognised for their team performance and dedicated Andrew and Judy Dean were nominated for their outstanding service to ice hockey as volunteers.

Nick Kyrgios and Chloe Hosking won the male and female athlete of the year prizes, triathlete Emily Tapp was the para athlete of the year and athletics sensation Keely Small was the inaugural rising star.

Former baseballer Jeff Williams and touch player Garry Lawless were inducted into the ACT Sport Hall of Fame and Noel Bissett (rugby league) and Dick Telford (athletics) were made associate members.

The Brave have built a cult following and regularly sell out their home games at Phillip. Starke, a four-time championship winner as a player for Newcastle, is confident they can grow again next season.

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"Every other team will want to front up to win the Cup next year and we're the same," Starke said.

"There's been a big shift in the success story for the Brave. It took five years to get there, but who would have thought we'd be able to do it. I'm so proud to be a part of that success.

"I saw the [demise of the Knights] from the other side, I saw the hard years they had struggling to be competitive and then I saw the Brave emerge. To finally get it done is amazing."

CANBERRA SPORT AWARD WINNERS

Female athlete of the year: Chloe Hosking (cycling)

Male athlete of the year: Nick Kyrgios (tennis)

Para sport athlete of the year: Emily Tapp (triathlon)

Team of the year: Canberra Brave (ice hockey)

Rising star: Keely Small (athletics)

Outstanding service to sport: Robynne Houston (netball)

Award for event excellence: Uni-Norths junior rugby union club

Award for innovation: Tennis ACT

Award for inclusion: Capital Lakes Rowing Club

HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES

Full members: Jeff Williams and Garry Lawless

Associate members: Noel Bissett and Dick Telford

Chris Dutton is the sports editor at The Canberra Times.

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