As we seen the month of June come to a close, two games on Sunday afternoon took place in Melbourne & Canberra respectively. After falling short against the Blue Tongues in game 1 of the weekend double header, Canberra were looking to bounce back with a win & Melbourne were looking to make it two from two as they entertained the Sydney Bears in their second straight game at the Icehouse.
Sydney Bears 2-3 Ice
A terrific game of hockey seen the defending champions pushed to the brink & on the verge of a shootout against the Sydney Bears who are occupying the bottom half of the standings, but some superb work from Jason Baclig was enough to give the Ice the edge. A see-sawing battle seen the Bears take a 2-0 first period lead, with goals from Lucien Hackett & Kurtis Dulle which silenced the Melbourne faithful as the players headed into the first intermission. With both teams trading blows the Ice seemed to have broken the deadlock when Matt Armstrong struck a bullet past Bears goalie Sheldon Baerg, only to have all protests waved away, Melbourne's hard work was payed off when Baclig slotted in a close range effort to bring the scoreline back to 2-1.
Melbourne piled on the pressure in the third as they tried to gain the ascendency, then with under two minutes left, the Ice pulled off a miracle victory. Tommy Powell was able to find a way past Baerg to make things level, then with only seconds left on the clock, Baclig was able to give Melbourne the lead & win in what was an astounding game of hockey. The home crowd were on their feet as the defending champions showed exactly why they are favourites to once again take out this season's crown, a superb individual effort from Baclig was enough to get the win, but it was very much a team effort.
With the win Melbourne now leap frogs Newcastle to sit a top of the standings heading into the month of July, the Ice will now shift their attention to Adelaide as they travel to Ice ArenA, in what looks set to be another epic encounter.
Gold Coast 5-7 Canberra
In what can only be described as a disaster month of June, Canberra finally put it all together & got a win on the board. After falling short in their first match of this double header weekend against Gold Coast, Canberra were able to put seven past the Blue Tongues goalie & give their home fans something to cheer about for the first time in a month. Matt Amado looked to have continued on from his form from Saturday afternoon, as he opened the scoring early in the first period as the Canberra faithful looked to the skies in hope once again. With two goals from in form Amado, the Blue Tongues took the lead heading into the first break. As both teams tried gaining control & momentum, goals were coming in thick & fast. Tobias Falk adding his second of the match, but everything the Tongues were able to do, the Knights were right there to match them.
With both teams pushing for the win, Falk grabbed his hat trick as he put away a penalty shot, then it was Canberra's turn. A penalty to Knights import Britt Ouellette tied the game & seemed to have given the home team some much needed momentum as the game clock ticked down & with just over a minute of play remaining, the Knights hit the lead. The match was sealed for the home team with only seconds to go, with the Knights running out two goal winners.
A much needed win for last placed Canberra, as they put a disappointing month of June behind them. Next up they host second placed Newcastle, in a match where all players across the roster will need to be at the top of their game. With two months still left in the AIHL season, Canberra will look to gain some pride while erasing the tag of whipping boys for 2011.
By Andrew Macdougall