Thunder Sink Admirals Finals Hopes

The Dunedin Thunder overcame a difficult season and an emphatic loss the previous night, to defeat the West Auckland Admirals 2-0 and prevent the Aucklanders from reaching the Birgel Cup Finals in an emotionally charged game on Sunday.

The result see’s the Admirals finish third behind the Canterbury Red Devils who will now meet the Skycity Stampede in the first game of the finals on Saturday in Christchurch.

It was an absolute heartbreaker for the Admirals who looked assured of advancing to the post season for the first time since 2010 after defeating the Thunder 8-2 the previous night. The Thunder scored early and looked increasingly confident with their play as they continued to lead throughout.

Dunedin Thunder import goaltender, Estonian Villem-Henrik Koitmaa, was immense in goal for the home team, turning away all comers as the Admirals out-shot the Thunder 37-27. The Admirals created several great chances, but failed to convert and no doubt missed Ice Black Nick Henderson who went down injured the previous night.

The Thunder lifted for their outgoing stars, with key players Connor Harrison, Shaun Harrison and Guillaume Leclancher all leaving after this season. The emotion in the Dunedin Ice Stadium was palpable throughout, though despite fans elation at their team’s only home win of the season, there was genuine feeling for the Admirals who Dunedin fans would probably rather see go through than their Canterbury rivals.

The Admirals sunk to the ice after the final whistle, the emotion there for all to see after a fantastic season and the unlikely double over the table topping Stampede the week before.

It was the most unlikely of upsets and the Thunder are now undoubtedly on the Red Devils Christmas card list. You could feel the huge sigh of relief traveling down over the hills from the north.

The Admirals will still hold Toa Kauhanga Riri Tio over the off-season for the second year in a row and their representative players will want to lift for Skate Of Origin which is being hosted in Avondale on September 3rd.

The first game of the Birgel Cup Finals is in Christchurch on Saturday August 20th, while game two is in Queenstown on Friday August 26th. If the third game is required, it will be in Queenstown on Saturday August 27th.

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