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Rovers end 25-year search for title with stunning extra-time victory over Casuals

Headshot of Jake Santa Maria
Jake Santa MariaMidwest Times
The joy and despair as Rovers celebrate as Casuals look on.
Camera IconThe joy and despair as Rovers celebrate as Casuals look on. Credit: Jake Santa Maria

A tale more than 20 years in the making came to an incredible conclusion on Saturday night as Rovers broke their drought it the men’s A hockey final with a thrilling 3-2 golden goal win over the heavily favoured Casuals.

Having lost just one game all season and beating the Rovers in their previous four encounters, the Cougars were looking odds-on to complete a treble in the division.

It started perfectly for them as they flicked a high ball into the circle with Kyle Avery making the bold decision to come off his line. When he failed to clear Ted Kerr swept home to give them the lead inside the first two minutes.

The Redbacks then had two players sent off in the space of a couple of minutes to leave them temporarily with nine men as they could not have made a poorer start.

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Casuals pushed but they could not make their player advantage count as the Rovers gained the ascendancy after they had their full complement back on the field.

They had the Casuals camped back but could not find a way through as they trailed 1-0 at quarter-time.

Rovers continued to pepper the Casuals goals but could not find the breakthrough.

The Casuals rarely threatened the Redback goal at the other end but they were defending soundly enough as they maintained their one goal lead into the half.

The Redbacks continued to poor forward winning two short corners and sending a shot just wide but could not find that final touch.

However, the weight of possession eventually broke through as Tyler Allen broke through with a tap in.

After barely attempting a foray in attack the Casuals quickly won a short corner and converted off the stick of Clint Yeates.

It was a dagger for the Redbacks after all their hard work they would have to build again with just 17 minutes left as they trailed 2-1 heading into the last.

But Casuals continued to play off the ball inviting pressure as they sat deep and the Rovers were all over their goals.

They forced a save early on before another shot went just wide as the Rovers basically willed themselves to a short corner.

This time they finally converted as James Van Niftrik buried the shot to send the game into golden goal overtime as neither side could break through in regular time.

It was next goal wins with 7½ minutes to play each way.

They barely needed three as Kye McVee whipped in a shot from the edge of the circle and rocketed it past the goalie who had no chance to stop it such was the pace of the shot as the Redbacks stunned the Cougars.

It is their first premiership in 25 years and completed a double for the club after the Cardinals won the women division 3-1 in the game prior.

Ken Allen, founder of Rovers Hockey Club, was there with his son Trevor to present the cup to Tyler Allen as he became the third generation to win the premiership.

“It’s been 25 years in the making and I’m so proud to have dad here to present the cup,” Trevor Allen said.

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