Sunday, July 3, 2011

Match recap: July 2

It was a day of upsets in the AIHL, as the top teams fell to teams below them in what was a strange day of hockey. Canberra pulled off the biggest upset of the season, as they dismantled the second placed North Stars & Adelaide kept the league favourites honest as they pushed the Ice all the way in a tight encounter at the Ice ArenA.


Newcastle 4-14 Canberra

A strange game which seen Canberra take the points in what was a superb display of hockey all night, and a very uncharacteristic display from one of the leagues top teams. The game started off badly for Newcastle as they quickly seen Canberra put 2 goals past their goalie & charge to a commanding lead, with under two minutes to go in the first period Canberra surged again to take a will earned 4-1 lead heading into the end of the first intermission. It didn't get much better for Newcastle after the first period, the Knights scoring goal after goal during the next two periods, they never allowed the North Stars to settle & get into any sort of rhythm, while themselves seemingly being able to score at will. 

Canberra, a team known more this season for not being able to keep pucks out of their own net, were all of a sudden pushing everything in their path past the waiting Matt Ezzy & Josh Broekmann who were both kept busy all night minding the net. It's never a good sight to see such a dull display on the ice & no doubt the Newcastle boys will want to put this game behind them & move on quickly, they will now head back home & regroup as they try to erase their biggest loss since 2002.

For the home side Britt Ouellette and Addison De Boer were in fine touch as they both reached double digits for the night, and it was backed up with a superb nine point performance from Anthony Cirualo. In goal Jason Linder made a total of 35 saves, as he pushed everything the North Stars hit towards him away. 

Two wins in a row for the Canberra outfit & all of a sudden things are looking a little brighter for the rest of the season, if the form line from tonight is any indication to go by, then the teams above them who are looking at finals hockey might be getting a little nervous.

Melbourne 5-6 Adelaide (OT)

With the Melbourne Ice bringing over a large & vocal away support, the match was set to be a great night of hockey. Melbourne took the early 1-0 lead in the first period with a fine goal from Tommy Powell, but a costly turnover from the Ice was enough to allow Cass Delsar to slot away a nice wrist shot to level things up at 1-1. With the second period under way, Melbourne Ice star Jason Baclig put the visitors up as he displayed his clinical finishing once again. Just like the first period, Adelaide were able to score another wrist shot that bounced off the goaltenders glove and into the net. Penalties were coming in thick & fast, as both teams pushed the physicality level up a notch. 

As the third period started Melbourne seemed to have gained control & Webster pushed two into the net which gave the Ice a nice 4-2 buffer, Adelaide weren't going to to lay down for the traveling side, as they burst forward to answer back & bring the game within a one goal differential. As third period ticked down the Adrenaline leveled things up, but it didn't last for long as Webster completed his hat trick which put Melbourne in a commanding position. With only twenty five seconds to go in the game, Adelaide got an all important equaliser which sent the home fans into a frenzy, with all things squared up at 5-5. 

A penatly shoot out was to decide the match and the Adrenaline were the ones which came out on top & once again continued the put the pressure back on the three teams occupying spots above them. The second leg of this weekends double header kicks off tomorrow afternoon, in what will be another great battle between two of Australia's hockey heavyweights.

Gold Coast 0-5 Sydney Ice Dogs

The Ice Dogs continued their pressure on the top two teams as they beat the Blue Tongues comfortably in Saturday afternoon hockey, with three games in hand the Ice Dogs were looking to continue their winning ways & stake their own claim as a team to be placed amongst the top contenders. A tight affair throughout the opening two periods where both teams jostled for momentum & control of the match, it was the Ice Dogs who broke open the game to score four goals in the third period, which put the Blue Tongues finals aspirations on hold for yet another week. 

A shut out for Ice Dogs goaltender James Hebert was one of the highlights for the Sydney team, the New South Wales local put on a tremendous display in goals as he blocked, covered & pushed aside everything the Blue Tongues were able to conjure up. The win now puts the Ice Dogs in a terrific position for an assault on the top two teams, with three games in hand, the standings could look a whole lot different if the Ice Dogs were able to take all points available. 

Both teams will come face to face in seven days time, as they both meet for a double header weekend of hockey. This time, the Ice Dogs will be traveling to the Iceland Skating rink, where they will no doubt face a tougher more determined Gold Coast team.

The weekends results really do put a different spin on the season, with both top teams giving up points & close contenders scoring wins, things are starting to heat up in the AIHL, with finals getting closer & closer.

By Andrew Macdougall

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