By KATE ALLMAN
Perth Thundersticks could either secure or lose their place in the Sultana Bran Hockey One Finals tonight as they fly to Canberra to play the Chill in what will be their last round fixture of the season.
A frosty end to the season awaits the Thundersticks if they cannot secure wins ahead of their bye next week.
For the women, who play first, there’s also a frosty reception awaiting visitors who venture to the nation’s capital; the Chill have won all their previous home matches this year.
Last week the Chill women gritted out a tight 1-0 win against the Adelaide Fire, showcasing a determined new style to the quick-play, counter-attacking style the team has become known for through speedy forwards Katie Doar and Mikaela Patterson.
The Chill have one of the best defences in the league, managed by vocal goalkeeper Rene Hunter and fronted by the smiling assassin – Japanese international and Season One MVP Shihori Oikawa.
Their lightning-quick ability to transfer the ball from attack to defence through creative midfielder Kalindi Commerford poses a serious threat to Perth’s finals hopes.
It will be up to the Thundersticks’ equally steadfast backline to block the Chill’s jab blows. Rachel Frusher, Karri Somerville and Penny Squibb have shown themselves up to the task and their decision-making and distribution through the midfield could be determining factors.
The Thundersticks are without Hockeyroos striker Shanea Tonkin – a devastating loss to the team’s forward power. Once again, the women of the west will call upon South African striker and midfielder Line Malan to get the Thundersticks on the board while boosting her goal tally for the season, which currently sits at five.
In the men’s match, a Canberra win could spell doom for the Thundersticks’ finals chances.
Perth’s loss to NSW Pride in Round 4, followed by last week’s shock loss in a shootout against the Tassie Tigers, have knocked the Thundersticks around. If they lose on Saturday, the team could slip from second place to out of finals contention after their bye.
Kookaburras Aran Zalewski and Jake Harvie have been fierce in the midfield for Perth but will need to finish with goals this week – a task that escaped them last week against Tassie.
Perth welcomes back young gun Cambell Geddes as he returns from Malaysia with a silver medal for Australia in the Sultan of Johor Cup.
Geddes’ under 21s national Burras teammate, Anand Gupte, is also back – taking the pitch on the other side for Canberra Chill. Gupte’s defence has gone from strength to strength this season and his ownership of the defensive 25 could help to freeze out Perth.
The Canberra backline is bolstered by Gary Bacchus and James Day. Bacchus has confidence and precision across the field, while Day’s lethal drag flick has found the net four times for the Chill.
Last time these teams met, both matches went to shootouts. The Perth women came away with a 1-1 (1-0) win, and the Canberra men finished on top with a final score of 3-3 (3-1).
Canberra Chill v Perth Thundersticks
Saturday 5 November 2022
National Hockey Centre, ACT
Match Start: Women’s 3:30pm local (3:30pm AEDT), Men’s 5:00pm local (5:00pm AEDT)
Broadcast: LIVE and exclusive on Kayo #CCHvPTX #HockeyOne
Umpires: Kristy Robertson & Emily Carroll (Women’s), Stirling Sharpe & Steve Rogers (Men’s)
Canberra Chill Women’s team: 1.Mikayla Evans, 4.Madison Doar, 6.Katie Doar, 7.Naomi Evans (c), 8.Laura Reid, 11.Sophie Gaughan, 14.Emily Robson, 16.Shihori Oikawa, 18.Olivia Martin, 21.Mikaela Patterson, 23.Kalindi Commerford, 24.Sarah White, 25.Lauren Yee, 28.Catriona Bailey-Price, 32.Rene Hunter (gk)
Perth Thundersticks Women’s team: 1.Kate Denning, 2.Kyra White (c), 3.Candyce Peacock, 5.Georgina Dowd, 7.Penny Squibb, 8.Georgia Wilson, 10.Sarah Byrnes, 11.Rachel Frusher, 12.Line Malan, 13.Neasa Flynn, 14.Elizabeth Duguid (gk), 16.Karri Somerville, 17.Annie Gibbs, 18.Renee Rockliff, 25.Jolie Sertorio
In: 25.Jolie Sertorio
Out: 9.Shanea Tonkin
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, 16.Oscar Smart, 17.Aidan Dooley, 24.Davis Atkin, 30.Andrew Charter (gk)
In: 3.Anand Gupte
Out: 19.Jeremy Hopkins
Perth Thundersticks Men’s team: 1.Chris Bausor, 2.Will Battistessa, 3.Tim Geers, 4.Jake Harvie, 5.Bryn de Bes, 10.Tom Wickham, 11.Tom Harvie, 13.Cambell Geddes, 14.Liam Flynn, 17.Aran Zalewski (c), 19.Ben Rennie (gk), 21.Ross Hall, 22.Ben Taylor, 24.Matt Willis, 27.Marshall Roberts
In: 13.Cambell Geddes, 21.Ross Hall, 27.Marshall Roberts
Out: 6.James Collins, 12.Alistair Murray, 16.Harry Golding