18/04/2024
Australia's victorious National Women's Team - Iceland, 2020

Australia's victorious National Women's Team - Iceland, 2020 (Image: Ice Hockey Australia)

Ice Hockey Australia (IHA) announced on April 8 that they would be returning to international competitions. The National Women's Team will compete in the International Ice Hockey Federation's (IIHF) Women's World Championship, Division II, Group B tournament held in Zagreb, Croatia, from May 17-22, 2022.

Ice Hockey Australia (IHA) announced on April 8 that they would be returning to international competitions.

The National Women’s Team (NWT) will compete in the International Ice Hockey Federation’s (IIHF) Women’s World Championship, Division II, Group B tournament held in Zagreb, Croatia, from May 17-22, 2022.

The decision comes as a pleasant surprise for hockey fans – IHA announced in January that they had withdrawn from the tournament. IHA has announced a roster that includes returning players and new faces from the team that won gold at the last tournament in 2020.

The Roster

Returning PlayersNew Faces
Ashlie AparicioGeorgia Carson
Michelle Clark-CrumptonEmily Davis-Tope
Stephenie CochraneLindsey Kiliwnik
Rylie EllisMolly Lukowiak
Tina GirdlerCourtney Mahoney
Jaimi GoonanMarnie Pullin
Shona GreenMatilda Pethrick
Remi HarveySara Sammons
Olivia LastNikki Sharp
Isla MalcolmKristelle Vanderwolf
Georgia MooreKayla Best (Reserve)
Kate TihemaEbony Brunt (Reserve)
Anna Badaoui (Reserve)Sasha King (Reserve)
Eiland Kenyon (Reserve)Tonii Larpent (Reserve)
Chloe Walker (Reserve)

As can be seen, the list above contains many new faces.

However, only four of the new faces from the roster above will represent Australia at a senior level for the first time: Molly Lukowiak (16), Courtney Mahoney (17), Matilda Pethrick (16), and Nikki Sharp (17). The others represented Australia previously but did not attend the 2020 tournament.

Nevertheless, there are notable absences, including all-situations scorers Tash Farrier, Sharna Godfrey, and Tess Reynolds. Likewise, Natalie Ayris will be a significant loss on the blue line.

However, Australia’s goaltending tandem from 2020 of Olivia Last and Tina Girdler will be returning; Last was named the tournament’s best goaltender in 2020. Rylie Ellis, named best blueliner of the 2020 competition, will also return.

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Preparation Challenges

The Australian Women’s Ice Hockey League (AWIHL), Australia’s premier women’s competition, has been inactive since February 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, posing challenges in preparation. Consequently, The Inner Sanctum asked Michelle Clark-Crumpton and Remi Harvey how they and their teammates had prepared for the tournament.

Clark-Crumpton, playing for the Perth Inferno in Western Australia, commented, “A lot of us have been playing in our local leagues – summer just finished, and our winter season is now starting here. The Inferno trained every week over summer – on ice and off-ice – and we played some exhibition games against local men’s teams.

“We tried to treat the past two years like AWIHL seasons with our regular training schedule and a few exhibition games. We’ve all missed competing and travelling like we used to, and I know all the girls are very excited to play for the NWT again and compete in the AWIHL again later this year.”

Harvey, playing in New South Wales, had similar comments, “For me personally, I have been playing local hockey and trying to prepare my body as much as possible.

“We all have been playing hockey in our respective home states (some girls have been playing overseas too), so it will be about us coming together as a team when we all meet up at training camp.”

Tournament Schedule

The women will fly to Melbourne for an abbreviated training camp from May 11-13. Afterwards, they will fly to Zagreb, Croatia, on May 13 and have a few days to acclimate before their first game on May 17.

This year’s tournament will feature five teams instead of six as trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand withdrew from the competition. Australia will thus play only four games, their schedule is below with times in AEST:

  • Turkey – May 18, 3:45 am
  • Croatia – May 20, 3:45 am
  • South Africa – May 21, 2:00 am
  • Iceland – May 23, 12:00 am

Tournament Predictions

Australia’s first-place finish in 2020 should have secured promotion to Division II, Group A. Unfortunately, IIHF cancelled all subsequent tournaments due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and Australia remained in the same bracket.

Australia ended the tournament with a whopping +35 goal differential after five games. With their main rivals, New Zealand, not participating, Australia thus enter as tournament favourites.

However, Turkey and Iceland proved challenging for Australia to break down in 2020, Croatia will have home support, and South Africa is a relatively unknown quantity.

IHA has yet to announce the coaching staff for the tournament but we will keep you updated when they do. In the meantime, stay tuned to The Inner Sanctum as we share Australia’s journey with, hopefully, golden results.

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