“That’s the greatest comeback since Lazarus!”
When the late Sid Waddell, a legendary darts commentator for the BBC excitedly yelled this iconic phrase into the microphone, he was referring to darts heavyweight Cliff Lazarenko.
But the CBR Brave might have just written a better comeback story than both Lazarus and Lazarenko.
The Brave capped off a brilliant season by winning the team of the year accolade at the 2018 CBR Sports Awards on Friday night (30 November), adding another chapter to one of local sports’ greatest revival stories.
The Brave set a goal-scoring record this season on their way to claiming their first Goodall Cup with a grand final epic in the Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL) decider, scoring the winner in overtime.
The journey from the dead to the league’s record-making team took just four years after the Canberra Knights owner, John Raut, handed back his AIHL licence and folded the team after 33 years of existence.
The Knights announced in February 2014 they had pulled out of the AIHL just six weeks before the start of the season, raising concerns the nation’s capital would no longer have a team to call their own.
The Knights, who were founded the same year as the Canberra Raiders and 15 years before the Brumbies were admitted into the Super Rugby competition, cited a lack of local players and increasing financial costs for the reasons behind the team folding.
But from the Knights’ ashes, the Brave was born.
The side has made the AIHL finals every season since and have played in three straight grand finals. The team wrote their names into the history books this season, winning 24 out of 28 games and shattering the record for most competition points in an AIHL season with 72.
One of the most remarkable comeback stories the capital has ever seen would not be written without the team behind the men on the ice who have volunteered time, money and effort to put the side on the rink every weekend.
Like everyone else in the club, including the players and the coaching staff, they were not paid but gave countless hours of effort to make the team into a championship winning force.
Without a backroom team, including the dedicated volunteers Andrew and Judy Dean who were nominated for their outstanding service to sport, there would have been no Canberra Brave revival story.