Monday, July 11, 2011

Match recap: July 9

The second week of July put forward some very interesting matches, Mustangs IHC traveled to Adelaide for a weekend double header & Canberra visited the Icehouse, in hope of providing another upset against one of the big dogs. While up north we had the Blue Tongues & Ice Dogs do battle, to try and gain ascendency in the race for fourth position.

Sydney Ice Dogs 1-7 Gold Coast

In what was booked as one of the games of the round, it was the Blue Tongues who were able to prevail in the first of two games which were to be played over the weekend. Clinicial finishing was the difference between the two teams, as the Blue Tongues were able to put away their chances, while the Ice Dogs we will no doubt kick themselves at the opportunities missed.

Tobias Falk was once again a star for the Gold Coast, slotting away three handy goals in another hat trick performance. With things fairly even in terms of shots on goal during the first period, it was the Blue Tongues & that man Falk who got things rolling. It was the three Gold Coast imports who lit up the opening period Mike McRae put in the first goal only seven minutes in, then Falk added another two with eight minutes left in the period. It was a double blow for the Ice Dogs, Falk able to get his second for the night only five seconds after the restart of play from scoring his first.

Things just went from bad to worse for the Sydney team, if being 3-0 done wasn't enough to cause concern, another four goals in the second period from the Blue Tongues buried the game & put the nail in the coffin for Sydney. Falk, McRae & Amado were all among the action, providing plenty of opportunities in front of goal & having the ability to get seven past the two keepers. 

A superb game in goal by Luke Fiveash, never allowed Sydney to get a sniff. With both teams having numerous shots on goal, his efforts to push everything away were a real boost for the home team. A consolation during the third period denied Fiveash a shutout, in what was otherwise a superb night of goal tending.

With Gold Coast fighting for the fourth spot in this seasons playoffs, their imports will be the ones who will have to carry the load throughout the remainder of the season. Falk & Amado have been sensational in recent weeks, their finishing, general hockey play & skating has been top notch & is going to be the catalyst for a late playoff push.

Although the scoreline of 7-1 does look rather lopsided, Ice Dogs definitely had their chances to get back into the match. Shot counts of 10-13 in the first, 9-8 in the second & 14-10 for the final period gave the away team enough hope that things could be turned around in the follow up game on Sunday afternoon.

Mustangs IHC 3-5 Adelaide

The Mustangs traveled to Adelaide in desperate search of points, as the try to find a way into the top half of the standings. Not totally out of playoff contention, the Mustangs needed to take as many points from the weekends trip to Adelaide as they possibly could. It wasn't going to be an easy task, with Adelaide coming off some superb performances the week before against the league leaders Melbourne Ice.

Things did start bright for the Mustangs, taking a 1-0 lead into the first intermission thanks to some offensive hockey which seen them lead the shot count. A turnover & quick break from Scott Corbett was enough to put the Mustangs ahead with a lovely timed finished, not needing any partners Corbett burst clear & couldn't be stopped. 

The second period was a rather tight tussle early, with both teams unable to add to the 1-0 scoreline. As the period reached the half way mark Adelaide started to gain momentum and seemingly gain control of the match, it resulted in an equalising goal with nine minutes to go. 1-1 as the game ticked down towards the end of the second, the Mustangs would hit the lead again and it was that man Corbett. Although the Mustangs seemed to have settled the match, Adelaide continued surging forward & were rewarded as they put away three goals within the final four minutes, to head into the break with a 4-2 lead.

The third period was much like the first two, a tight contest between to evenly matched teams, with plenty of opportunities but no one really able to break the game open. Andrew Belic scored half way through the final term, and it was game on again. With the scoreline at 3-4 in favour of the home team, things were looking to go down to the wire. But with three minutes remaining in the game, Sean Scarbrough iced the match & made sure the points were staying in the city of churches.

A poor pass deep in the Mustangs offensive zone, allowed the Adrenaline to intercept & break quickly, Josh Harding pushing the puck out wide left, which allowed Scarbrough to skate up ice & drag the puck across Micheal James to crush any hopes of a Mustangs late equaliser.

Newcastle 4-2 Sydney Bears

An all NSW weekend was ahead for these two teams, with Newcastle looking to turn their disappointing Canberra trip around and the Bears looking to get a mini run of wins going, as they try to lift themselves from the foot of the table.

The match started off in rather dull fashion, both teams not really troubling either goalie as shots on goal were hard to come by. Both teams headed into the first break locked in at 0-0, and no real winner was in sight. With the second period underway many thought that Newcastle would come out all guns blazing, but it was the Bears who were on the offensive, shot after shot were headed to towards the net. If Matt Ezzy had fallen asleep during the first period, he was now wide awake as the puck was rocketing towards him. Sydney were finally able to break the deadlock halfway through the period, Brett Nelson-Bond put the Bears ahead as he finally got one to get past Matt Ezzy, who couldn't keep everything out. A dominant Bears period seen them lead 1-0 into the final break, as the shot count was a one sided 11-5.

With the lead & majority of the momentum, Sydney looked to pounce and cause another big upset much like Canberra did against the North Stars. But, as most good teams do, Newcastle were able ride out the onslaught from the Bears & gain control which in turn provided enough time for their stars to work their magic. Cartwright, Bales & Chwedoruk were all able to work themselves into the contest, which was enough to allow Newcastle a 4-2 win, in what was a grueling and hard earned victory. 

Brian Bales was awarded the game MVP, as he provide plenty of spark for the Newcastle team. Not the type of performance we have come to expect from Newcastle, they will definitely need to bring their A game next weekend, as they travel to the Icehouse and face league leaders Melbourne Ice.

Canberra 2-8 Melbourne

A game tipped to be fairly one sided, proved to be just that as Melbourne took care of business in game one of the weekends double header. In what can only be described as a dominant performance, Melbourne were able to pepper Canberra goalie Jason Lindner throughout the three periods. 

An opening goal to Brett Ouellette gave the Knights some hope, but that's where it all stopped. Inspired by Obi Aduba, Melbourne were able to go on the attack as they had shot after shot. Jason Baclig was once again on the score sheet as he went unassisted to level things up at 1-1, the first period was then rounded out as three more Melbourne goals were put on the board. Perreault, Armstrong and Aduba all getting their chance to hit the back of the net, things weren't looking good for Canberra as they trailed 4-1 at the first break.

Not much changed for the remainder of the match, more shots on goal for Melbourne & more pucks hitting the Canberra net. Three more goals in the second all but sealed a Melbourne win, if it wasn't already done after the first fifteen minutes. 

Out shooting the Knights 33-22 showed exactly how dominant the Ice were on the night, boosted by another superb & rowdy home crowd, Melbourne showed exactly why they are now clear Goodall Cup favourites.

It was a superb team performance from Melbourne, Canberra had all their work cut for them as they approached game two on Sunday afternoon. After the heroics of beating Newcastle last weekend, it seems a distant memory for the Knights now, as the toughest road trip in the AIHL has hit them at full steam. 

By Andrew Macdougall

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