Southern Storm becomes unlikely champion

Southern Storm celebrate victory in the National Women's Ice Hockey at the Dunedin Ice Stadium on Sunday. Photo: Tim Bryant
Southern Storm celebrate victory in the National Women's Ice Hockey at the Dunedin Ice Stadium on Sunday. Photo: Tim Bryant
Your champions - the Southern Storm.

Now there is an unlikely statement.

The Storm was crowned National Women's Hockey League at the weekend.

It rounded out a superb campaign with a 7-1 win against Canterbury at the Dunedin Ice Stadium on Sunday.

The Dunedin-based team had set the benchmark in the three-team league all season, winning 11 of its 12 games.

But its journey to the title was far from ordinary, coach Angelique Mawson said.

''The team has had a rough road over the past four years, with the last win prior to this season being in 2015,'' she said.

Going three years without a win was an enormous challenge. But there were signs the team was improving last year.

''A great team atmosphere and positive environment created by the players, coaches and management alike saw import players from Queenstown show interest and a couple of national players returned from retirement,'' Mawson said.

''A very different team'' entered the 2019 New Zealand Women's Ice Hockey League.

The league got under way in January, and the Storm set the tone with a surprise overtime win over 2018 winner Auckland.

Auckland bounced back in the next fixture.

But Southern went through the rest of the season without losing a game against Auckland, or its nearer rival Canterbury, and finished 10 points clear to claim the tittle for the first time.

Southern scooped a few more awards to go with the national trophy. Anna Goulding was named best defender, while Kellye Nelson was named best forward and was also the leading scorer in the league.

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