20/04/2024

Joey Hughes in action for the Brave in their 6-1 semi-final win against Newcastle. (Photo: Paul Furness/CBR Brave Facebook.)

It’s a case of one down and one to go for the CBR Brave as they advance to Sunday’s Goodall Cup Final.

The Brave was too good in the end as they were able to grind out an impressive 6-1 win over the Newcastle Northstars on Friday night.

They will now have a day’s break before facing either the Sydney Bears or Northstars who play off in Saturday’s preliminary final.

It was a two-goal second period led by 38-year-old and six-time Goodall Cup champion Joey Hughes that broke the game open.

Hughes would score both goals in the period and finish the game leading the way with three points (two goals, one assist).

“Joey [Hughes] has been very successful, and he has got his name on that cup quite a few times,” Head Coach Stuart Philps told The Inner Sanctum.

“We have got a good line-up of experience in the locker room.

“So, we lean on those guys to make sure we are getting the right guidance.”

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A strong Brave forecheck trapping the Northstars in their defensive end and the mounting pressure was too much for Charlie Smart in goal for Newcastle.

It was the pressure that has seen the Brave be the standout team throughout the Australian Ice Hockey League regular season finishing top of the standings.

“We had a terrible few weeks leading up to finals, we haven’t had a game since we played the Dogs [Sydney Ice Dogs],” Philps said.

“The guys are really hungry to play and be successful.

“There is a lot on the line obviously and we want to make sure we take home the chocolates.”

As they have done throughout the 2022 campaign, the Brave find that extra gear when the game is in the balance.

Coming off Friday night’s win there is still a feeling that the Brave can move up another level on the ice.

“I don’t think that we played overly well tonight,” Philps continued.

“However, that’s credit to Newcastle and their ability to disrupt our game.

“We can’t say that we necessarily did anything wrong, Newcastle pressured us and put us into situations to play a different style of game at times to control their pressure.”

Amongst the Brave roster, there is a sense of unfinished business.

Losing only one game during the 2019 AIHL regular season, the Brave were knocked out at the first hurdle in a semi-final clash against eventual champions the Sydney Bears.

It is something that still drives those players who were a part of that squad three years ago.

“That was before me and they had a great regular season,” Philps said.

“Unfortunately, they fell short very early in the finals where it was a one-and-done game.

“For a lot of these guys here they still have a bruise on them from that experience.”

The Brave will now have a day’s rest awaiting the Saturday result, it will be a case of recovery and preparation across the next 24-48 hours, working to get better and have themselves in the best possible shape on Sunday to win their second Goodall Cup trophy.

“We will have a decent sleep,” Philps continued.

“We have got massages and a full day recovery, and obviously we will watch tomorrow’s [Saturday] game.

“We will do some review of tonight’s game and see where we can be better, and where we were a little bit exposed.

“And just see how we can improve on those areas.”

The Goodall Cup Final is on Sunday, September 3 at 2:00 pm from O’Brien Icehouse Arena.

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