Silver and two Bronze for Aussie Ice Hockey players at Lausanne 2020
Australian athletes have picked up their first medals at the Youth Winter Olympic Games in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The Australian Ice Hockey contingent has won silver and two bronze within their Mixed NOC Teams in the 3x3 Ice Hockey finals at Lausanne 2020.
The 3x3 Ice Hockey competition is a new event on the Winter Youth Olympic programme.
The teams consist of 11 field players, plus two goalkeepers, all from different nations. The games were played in an end zone of a normal ice rink, each consisting of three periods of 16 minutes, with a line change every 60 seconds.
14-year-old Courtney Mahoney, in Women’s Black, won the Youth Olympic silver medal, after going down 1-6 to Women’s Yellow in the gold medal game.
Nikki Sharp and Sai Lake are both heading home with bronze after winning their respective final matches at Lausanne Vaudoise Arena on Wednesday.
Mahoney’s team headed into the semi-finals with only 1 loss from 8 matches, and defeated Brown in the semis on the way to the gold-medal match. However, when it came to the final game, the Yellow Team proved too strong.
“I’m very privileged to have a Youth Olympic medal around my neck,” Mahoney said.
“I didn’t play my best today, but I certainly tried to give it my all and it was a good last game.”
The Brisbane local said the Youth Olympic Games has inspired her to train even harder to achieve her ice hockey goals.
“This experience makes me want to be able to play up to the standards of some of the better players in my team and to be able to improve, hopefully one day playing overseas for one of the high-level teams.
She also hopes Australia’s three Youth Olympic medals shows the next generation of ice hockey players what’s possible.
“I think it’s very cool to see that we can play up to the standards of everyone else around the world, and if three of us can get Youth Olympic medals, then many more of us can get it too.”
While Women’s Blue, featuring Nikki Sharp, was the dominant team for the women’s bronze-medal showdown with a 6-4 victory over Women’s Brown, it was the men’s match that the crowd holding their breath.
Men’s Blue took an early 2-1 lead at the end of the first period, but Men’s Brown, featuring Aussie Sai Lake, fought back in the second period, to take a lead of 4-3.
It was end-to-end for the third and final period, with the scores locked at 5-all as the clock counted down. Just as everyone was mentally preparing themselves to head into a penalty shootout, Czech Republic’s Matyas Sapovaliv, from Team Brown, slotted one in the back of the net in the final two seconds of the game, sending the Vaudoise Arena into a frenzy.
Lake, who hails from Geelong, said he was stoked to have won the bronze in such a tight game.
“It’s just the best experience, being able to come here, let alone win a medal - it’s a once in a lifetime experience,” the 15-year-old said.
“The game was really intense; I was just sitting on the bench my heart was racing. Knowing that we could have gone to sudden death was so intense, and when our first liner scored with two seconds left was the best experience.”
Western Australia’s Sharp will also be heading home with a bronze.
“I’m really stoked with my Team’s effort and so happy we were able to come away with the win and a bronze medal,” the 15-year-old said.
“We started very strong and didn’t let it go. We were able to keep up our concentration throughout the game today which resulted in a good win. This experience has taught me to not give up and to keep the resilience going. It all works out if you keep up the good effort. “
Australia was represented by six ice Hockey players at Lausanne 2020. Ebony Brunt in Women’s Grey finished sixth, and Molly Lukowiak (Women’s Orange) and Riley Langille (Men’s Blue) both finished eighth in the tournament.