Canberra Chill and Brisbane Blaze share the spoils

By Adam Clifford

It was honours even as Canberra Chill’s Women’s Team and Brisbane Blaze’s Men’s Team enjoyed victories in front of another super crowd to open Round 2 of the Sultana Bran Hockey One League.

Women’s Match

Canberra Chill extinguished Brisbane Blaze on their home deck with a 4-2 victory in their first hit out of the season.

The result leaves the defending champions with two losses and just two points from their opening two matches, with Ash Fey also likely to miss further matches due to injury.

Earlier, after facing significant delays to their planned travel schedule, the Chill arrived with plenty of purpose with Japanese international star Shihori Oikawa patrolling the backline and New Zealand sister pairing Madison and Katie Doar dynamic in midfield.

The home side fired the first early warning through Hannah Cullum-Sanders before a frenetic opening had its exclamation mark, with Katie Doar thumping home an upright reverse stick strike in just the 6th minute.

Doar duly scored her conversion opportunity with a neat roll routine to make it a perfect start with her adopted club and 2-0 to the visitors.

Far from going into their shells, the Chill continued to press with Catriona Bailey-Price forcing a save, before teammate Laura Gray earned a late set piece opportunity that was ultimately run down.

The Blaze lit up the second term through Savannah Fitzpatrick’s silky stick work, but Chill goalkeeper Rene Hunter would not be denied.

Brisbane continued where they had left off after the main break, with Britt Wilkinson working well, despite often finding herself forced to work in isolation.

Wilkinson, the season one league leading goal scorer, came inches away from finding a response in the 43rd minute when she smashed a tomahawk strike across the face of goal.

The third term ended with heavy front on contact between the Chill’s gutsy defender Olivia Martin and Blaze defender Casey Dolkens.

The result was put to bed when Naomi Evans stole possession, fed sister Mikayla who knocked across the face of goal from her knees to Mikaela Patterson to touch home.

The former Hockeyroo never looked like missing her conversion opportunity and the Chill had stunned the Brisbane faithful to lead 4-0.

There would be time for a Jade Smith double, with the Blaze exploiting the field goal conversion rule from a clever penalty corner routine that was taken outside the dotted circle area, assisted by Claire Colwill.

Speaking post-match to Fox Sports, Katie Doar admitted their flight challenges had thrown their preparation into chaos but those scenes were quickly forgotten once the Chill arrived in Brisbane.

“Today was a pretty long day. It’s nice to be in Brissie though as Canberra was raining today,” Doar admitted.

With the late loss of former Hockeyroo skipper Edwina Bone, after recently falling pregnant, Doar was pleased with how quickly the side had formed connections.

“It was a good first good hit out with the girls. Obviously, it’s my first time playing in the Hockey One League, but I had a good time tonight playing with this group.”

“We’ll be looking to build on this performance, given it was our first hit out. You can always improve from there, so it’ll be good to get back to training next week and see how we go.”

The Blaze will now need to overcome the longest road trip in the Hockey One League, up against the Perth Thundersticks in Western Australia next Saturday to get their title defence back on track, whilst the Chill look forward to their first home match against HC Melbourne on Thursday night.

Match Details
Brisbane Blaze 2 (Smith 58’/58’)
Canberra Chill 4 (K.Doar 6’/6’, Patterson 50’/50’)
Thursday 6 October 2022
Queensland State Hockey Centre
Umpires: Tara Leonard & Aleisha Neumann (women’s)

Brisbane Blaze Women’s team: 1.Savannah Fitzpatrick, 2.Ambrosia Malone, 3.Casey Dolkens, 5.Dayle Dolkens, 6.Morgan Gallagher (c), 7.Hannah Cullum-Sanders, 8.Jade Smith, 12.Tatum Stewart, 13.Rebecca Greiner, 19.Morgan Mathison, 22.Britt Wilkinson, 24.Claire Colwill, 25.Kyra Livermore, 30.Georgina West, 32.Emily Witheyman-Crump (gk) 

Canberra Chill Women’s team: 1.Mikayla Evans, 2.Isabelle Lovel, 4.Madison Doar, 6.Katie Doar, 7.Naomi Evans, 8.Laura Gray, 11.Sophie Gaughan, 14.Emily Robson, 16.Shihori Oikawa, 18.Olivia Martin, 21.Mikaela Patterson, 23.Kalindi Commerford, 24.Sarah White, 28.Catriona Bailey-Price, 32.Rene Hunter (gk)


Men’s Match

The Brisbane Blaze have made it back-to-back victories to set up their Sultana Bran Hockey One League men’s title charge, defeating a brave Canberra Chill 3-1 on their home surface.

The Blaze was forced to come from a goal down and again relied on game one goal scorers Cale Cramer and Joel Rintala to ensure their perfect start to the campaign.

Both sides had traded early half scoring chances with Kookaburra Jake Whetton dominating from the outside, whilst Ben Staines thrashed a reverse stick opportunity over the cross bar approaching quarter time.

The Chill stunned the 1,135 patrons in attendance when a brilliant aerial pass from James Day connected with Staines on the by-line, the latter finishing under the goalkeeper from the narrowest of angles.

Blaze goalkeeper Mitch Nicholson was unmoved and came up trumps in the conversion opportunity, before being called upon to make a stunning stick save from a penalty corner in the 24th minute.

It proved to be the spark the Blaze needed to ignite their performance, with Jacob Anderson’s well worked set piece aptly finished by Rintala with unstoppable force.

The first half storyline though has unquestionably been the return of Kookaburras star Whetton, who pulled all the midfield strings for the hosts in a match when opposing sides sought to gain the upper hand with their aggression.

A piece of individual brilliance from =Cramer gifted the Blaze the advantage, with the veteran stealing possessing at the feet of Chill goalkeeper Andrew Charter before releasing a rapid tomahawk strike into the net.

Cool as a cucumber, Cramer finished his conversion opportunity with aplomb and the hosts had skipped to a 3-1 advantage.

Panic rained out when an aimless ball into the Chill’s attacking circle rebounded off the woodwork to stay in play, but in the ensuing passage of play, Gary Bacchus was sent from the field.

This would prove a turning point in momentum, as a desperate Bacchus was sinbinned for ten minutes leaving the Chill with just ten men to mount a comeback.

The Blaze managed the final stages with Player of the Match Corey Weyer, Tim Howard and Shane Kenny superb in shutting out the visitors.

Speaking post-match, Weyer felt his side left a few goals out there.

“We were happy to get the win, but we made it a bit tough by starting a bit slow,” Weyer said.

“We weren’t playing our best in the first half but the boys dug in and we held them out.”

“Something to work on this week at training will definitely be goal scoring, as we’re heading to Perth next week against either Tyler Lovell or Ben Rennie, both top class goalkeepers, so we’ll have to be really clinical in the circle.”

Charter felt his side competed really well after their pre-match preparations were thrown into chaos with a missed flight.

“We had some trouble getting here today but we put out a pretty admirable effort,” Charter said.

“We gave away a few too many breakaway opportunities, which could have cost us, but we managed well, and we just need to not give those opportunities away.”

The Chill now face the quick turnaround, facing HC Melbourne on their home deck on Thursday night in what is expected to be a parochial home crowd, whilst the Blaze will get a stern assessment against a lively Thundersticks side in Perth.

Match Details
Brisbane Blaze 3 (Rintala 30, Carmer 32’/32’)
Canberra Chill 1 (B.Staines 18’)
Thursday 6 October 2022
Queensland State Hockey Centre
Umpires: Steve Rogers & Aaron Gotting (men’s)

Brisbane Blaze Men’s team: 2.Shane Kenny, 3.Corey Weyer, 5.Lucas Brown, 7.Joel Rintala, 9.Jacob Anderson, 10.Jayden Atkinson, 11.Michael Francis, 12.Jake Whetton, 13.Ethan White, 14.Isaac Layton, 15.Cale Cramer, 16.Tim Howard (c), 17.Scott Boyde, 27.Jared Taylor, 32.Mitchell Nicholson (gk)

Canberra Chill Men’s team: 2.Ben Staines, 3.Anand Gupte, 4.James Day, 6.Connor Tuddenham, 7.Ben Craig (c), 8.Sean Baker, 9.Jamie Hawke, 10.Owen Chivers, 11.Garry Backhus, 12.Jake Staines, 15.Hayden Dillon, 17.Aidan Dooley, 22.Jay Macdonald, 24.Davis Atkin, 30.Andrew Charter (gk)