10 April 2024

The CBR Brave return with potentially their strongest lineup in recent years for the National Ice Hockey League

| Tim Gavel
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Ice hockey players

Canberra Brave player Kai Miettinen in action. Photo: David Tate.

The Brave had an outstanding 2023 season in the National Ice Hockey League and fell just short of securing the Goodall Cup.

The 1-0 loss to the Melbourne Mustangs in the final has provided significant motivation to a team accustomed to success.

That motivation has driven the recruitment of several key players, including New Zealand stars Jacob Carey and Jake Ratcliffe, along with Tommy Steven from the Sydney Bears. They have bolstered an already strong roster with Stu Philps returning as coach.

Brave Chief Operating Officer Steve Moeller is optimistic.

“We’ve got a very strong team on paper. I think it will be a stronger roster than we have had for the past couple of years. It will be a competitive season with a lot of heavy recruiting across the league.”

Adding to Steve Moeller’s optimism is the team’s performance on the opening weekend of the season. The Brave lost to the Northstars in Newcastle before beating the Sydney Ice Dogs 6-1 the following day in Sydney.

The Brave did it without any imports against teams already bolstered by players from the US and Canada.

The four-player import contingent will be filled by the Braves, but only after the completion of finals in overseas leagues.

For the next couple of weeks the depth of the squad will be severely tested with six CBR Brave players away with the Australian Mighty Roos national team at the World Division 2 Group A titles in Serbia.

Casey Kubara, Tyler Kubera and Bayley Kubara have been selected for the World Championships alongside Brave teammates Mitch Henning, Nick Christensen and Aleksi Toivonen.

Their absence for the next couple of weeks isn’t the only challenge facing the Brave – the team continues to wait patiently for the development of a new ice sports facility, which remains a work in progress.

“We are optimistic there will be a new facility in Canberra. We are all counting down the days until it happens,” said Steve.

A location has yet to be finalised, and it appears there is still plenty of negotiation still to take place with the ACT Government before it progresses.

Ice hockey players on the ice

The CBR Brave hope to improve on their 2023 season, which saw them lose to Melbourne 1-0 in the final. Photo: Scott Stevenson.

In the meantime, talks have taken place with new owners of the Philip facility, GEOCON, to improve the game-day experience.

The Brave are among the league’s most passionate and hardy fans, and Steve Moeller is keen to ensure they are catered to.

“It’s really the Brave family. They love ice hockey, they love the team and are very parochial.”

And those fans will be back in numbers, no doubt, for the first home game of the season on 20 April against the Brisbane Lightning.

Like the management, the fans also have an enormous sense of optimism.

The CBR Brave will play their first home game on Saturday, 20 April, at the Phillip Swimming & Ice Skating Centre. For more information, visit CBR Brave.

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