The AWIHL returned for the 2023-2024 season. First home games for the Adelaide Rush saw them facing the Sydney Sirens. Both teams had many up and coming younger players and the Sirens seemed to have a big turnover in players since I last saw them. Compared to the Rush’s 2022-2023 roster, it includes 17 returning players and 10 new signings, while 4 players have been delisted. The imports for the Rush are Madeline Langevin, Sierra Meroniuk (from Northern Alberta Institute of Technology), Reaghan Pietrowski (from Adrian College), Maya Tupper (from Lakers Kärnten in the Austrian league). New players included Marni Trapolino and Amelia Knott (goaltender), as well as Kelly Harris (previously in the team in 2018–19) and Diane Glass (returning after 6 years off). Development players are Eleanor Bartter, Jasmine Chen and Anika Wegund. Starting goaltender for the Rush for Sunday’s game was Amelia Knott. In goals for the Sirens was Ella Licari again.
After being stunned by the Rush on Saturday, Sirens Sarah Edney got the Sirens off to a flying start at the 17:45 mark after assists from Lucinda York and Julia Pochini. Sirens Hannah Cryan headed to the bench for a tripping minor at 16:54, followed by Rush’s Nat Ayris for hooking at 14:05. Neither team was able to score with the player advantage. Then Cryan was done for tripping again at 8:41 left in the period to give the Rush a powerplay again. The penalty had gone 2 seconds when Rush’s Torie Cybulski levelled the scored. The assists came from Madeline Langevin and Kelly Harris. Forty seconds later the Rush were one goal up when Nat Ayris stole the puck off Licari’s right pad after receiving an assist from Kaitlyn Malthaner who then collided with Siren’s Cryan landing in a heap. Rush’s Langevin and Cybulski received holding and tripping penalties respectively with under 4mins to play and giving the Sirens a 5-on-3 advantage, but the penalties were seen off by the Rush penalty kill units. However, with 38secs remaining in the period Sirens’s York levelled the score. The assist came from Cryan. Shots on goal saw Rush’s Knott face 15 to Sirens’s Licari 13 shots.
The 2nd period started off with a tripping penalty to Sirens Pochini giving the Rush an early chance to go ahead…and they did! Madeline Langevin teamed up with Jamie Lunn and import Maya Tupper to get the go-ahead goal at 16:57. The Sirens struck back almost immediately, shorthanded, as Ebony Brunt found got the puck past Knott. The assist came from Lily Roberts. Then at 12:06, Roberts got a goal of her own to put the Sirens ahead 4-3. The assist came from Stephanie Newmark. The Rush were not frazzled, and less than 2mins later Kate Tihema even up the score at 4-all. Assists came from Malthaner and Ayris. No change in the score for the rest of the period. Shots on goal for the period saw Rush’s Knott face 11 shots to Licari facing 7 shots.
With such an even match, the team that stayed out of the penalty box would need to make use of the advantage to get the edge on the other team. A tripping penalty to Rush’s Kirsty Venus at 17:23 is not what her team needed, but the penalty kill unit stayed strong the score remained at 4-all. Neither team could find a way past each other’s defence. Not at least until just over 5mins left in the game when Rush’s Venus would put the puck past the big Sirens goaltender. Tihema and Tupper got the assists. The Rush were hammering the Sirens goal. The Sirens would now need to strike back fast as the Rush’s defence had proven itself already. With Jamie Lunn heading to Rush’s sinbin for a slashing penalty this was exactly what the Sirens needed. But the Rush were not to be denied, and with no choice late in the game goaltender Licari headed to the bench leaving the open goal. Rush’s Nat Ayris scored an empty netter with 26secs remaining in the game to give the Rush a decisive 6-4 win and 2 wins from the weekend against last year’s premiers! Shots on goal for the game were: Rush’s Amelia Knot facing 31 shots to Sirens Ella Licari 33 shots (Rush outscoring the Sirens 13-5 in the last period).