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Queensland Blades to face WA Thundersticks in AHL final
07 Mar 2008 10:24

The OAMPS Queensland Blades will face the SmokeFree WA Thundersticks for the second year in a row after both teams made their way into the AHL championship match at the expense of the MIA Tassie Tigers and Victorian Vikings respectively.

The Blades are now one step closer to creating AHL history and are poised to become the first team in men's AHL history to win three championships in a row.

While the Blades eventually came away solid winners against the Tigers, there were ominous signs in the first half when neither team really settled or showed any of the excitement produced by both teams during their last match on Thursday night.

After an eventless first half both teams appeared much more switched on at the beginning of the second half, particularly the Blades who were keen to seek revenge on the Tigers who blemished their undefeated record at the tournament in their previous encounter.

Eventually the Blades hard work paid off, opening their scoring accounts via a Jason Wilson field goal at the 46th minute.

The goal came via a long midfield pass which was misread by the Tasmanian defender which left Wilson one on one with the Tigers goalkeeper.

The Tigers hardly had time to regain their composure before the Blades scored their second goal of the match, literally seconds later thanks to Kookaburra regular Nathan Eglington.

Eglington again caused headaches for the Tigers defenders when he hit the ball hard and low towards the Blades goal. The ball was originally deflected by the keeper but had enough speed to continue traveling towards goals to give the Blades a commanding lead.

The Tigers eventually hit back with a late goal in the 64th minute to Nick Tremayne but it was a case of too little too late as the Blades appear to be peaking at the business end of the tournament.

The Thundersticks path to the Championship match was more challenging, having to hold on against a determined Vikings outfit.

In what can be described as a game of two halves, the second half determination of the Victorian Vikings fell short of victory, with the two goals scored by the Thundersticks in the first half proving enough to get them over the line.

The Thundersticks were completely dominant in the first half, having several penalty corner attempts in the early stages of the match, however all went unfulfilled.

The hard work of the Thundersticks finally paid off at the 22nd minute mark when Phil Hulbert finished off a classy goal following a series of quick passes which found him in his attacking circle.

The Thundersticks' domination of the first half continued only minutes later when Peter Blakeney put away an impressive diving goal to stretch the Thundersticks lead and present the Vikings with a huge challenge going into the half time break.

Coming out after the half time break, the Vikings looked a totally different team, controlling the ball in the midfield as the Thundersticks defenders found themselves under genuine pressure for the first time in the match.

After several close attempts the Vikings looked certain to join the Thundersticks on the scoreboard as Luke Doerner lined up to complete a penalty stroke after an infringement in the Vikings circle.

However in a summary of the Vikings form during the match, the ball failed to beat the keeper and a seemingly simple chance was blown.

Surprisingly, the miss appeared to spur on the Vikings as their all out attack continued.

Eventually justice was served and the Vikings finally found their way onto the scoreboard when Doerner made amends for his early mistake to convert a penalty corner with 17 minutes left on the clock.

Desperate to find an equalizer, the Vikings kept the Thundersticks defenders under pressure and it seemed likely the match would go into the extra time period.

However despite a few last minute attempts the Thundersticks managed to hang on and book a spot in the championship match against the highly rated Blades outfit.

The Thundersticks path to the Championship match was more challenging, having to hold on against a determined Vikings outfit.

Source: Hockey Australia

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