[img_assist|nid=2959|title=Thunderstruck|desc=WA Thundersticks celebrate their 2011 AHL men’s hockey championship – Kangaroo Photos|link=node|align=right|width=300|height=200]The WA Thundersticks have snatched the 2011 Men’s Australian Hockey League title from the grasp of the hosts, the NSW Waratahs with a 69th minute goal.
Sam Pike produced his second PC goal of the final making the score 4-3, just minutes after the Waratahs had levelled the game.
Both teams were furious in their efforts to win Sunday’s match, neither giving an inch in their attack or defence.
The NSW Waratahs suffered for their errors at key moments of the game where their final execution on critical passes robbed them of much needed goals and a clear lead. WA worked well in forcing errors by NSW players under pressure.
The scoreboard ticked over evenly for both teams throughout the match and the dogged attacking line of WA was continually threatening the NSW defence which worked tirelessly to hold WA from numerous scoring chances.
NSW Waratahs were certainly the leading team in the second half and looked well placed to take the match into extra time. However, a well-worked play saw WA earn a penalty corner in the final minutes and cruelly deny the home team a 2011 title.
WA Thundersticks Coach Chris O’Reilly was jubilant with the team’s win. A well-prepared unit, the WA Thundersticks were always medal contenders and dominated through to the final minute of the tournament.
“We knew that we could expose NSW by attacking out wide and getting in behind them.
“Today was a big occasion and every single player stepped up to perform as a team.
“Our senior players acted as fantastic role models to the younger members of the side who were exposed to some of the best hockey talent this country produces.
“We have an excellent team culture and play every match win as a group. Any individual rewards such as national selection that may follow will be well-deserved and be celebrated by the group.”
Despite a second consecutive final defeat, NSW Coach Larry McIntosh remained optimistic about the NSW state team’s excellence. “We looked forward to this week of matches, it was an opportunity for the whole unit to come together and grow.
“Today we were certainly clinical in some sections, but not enough.
“Our approach to the finals continued to evolve as we factored in the impressive win by ACT over SA, it gave us all a lot to consider heading into our match against Queensland.
“The Queensland match was certainly a highlight this week.
“NSW has so many good prospects looking to the future and this week exposed many new players to the ultimate level of domestic competition.
“We continue to grow through the junior ranks and players are rewarded with selection and opportunities in the AHL competition.
Goal Scorers: NSW Matthew Butturini FG 7m WA Craig Boyne FG 19m NSW Duncan Pearce PC 29m WA Sam Pike PC 37m WA Brent Dancer PC 46m NSW Ian Paterson PC 65m WA Sam Pike PC 69m