The Sydney Bears have had to endure a tough start to their 2012 season campaign, sitting in third position on the Bauer Conference standings, it's never nice to be behind your local rivals who hold the number 2 ranking. Nine points adrift from top spot, a win away to Newcastle this Sunday afternoon, could prove to be a turning point for the Bauer side of the AIHL.
The results have been up & down in 2012 for the young team out of Baulkham Hills, but it's a squad which is determined to turn around it's fortunes & make a run at the post season during the second half of the season.
3 wins from their last 10 games, along with 5 loses in between & it has been a less than perfect start in anyone's books. One thing we know about the AIHL is that if you fall behind early in the season, catching up is some what of a grueling task.
With the week off to freshen up the minds, Bears defender Steve Adams informs me the players are ready to take on the conference leaders, as they look to head back into the post season for the first time since 2010 "I think the weekend off has been good, we've put in some solid training sessions as a team and hope that will shine through on the rink. I was gutted in 2010 when I had an ankle injury and couldn't play in our playoff game against Melbourne Ice, so I really hope we're back there this season." "Everyone is pumped up for the game, we really have to maintain discipline and focus for the full 45 - Newcastle have the ability to really pounce on you if you let up. Staying out of the penalty box will be key."
The importance of the win against Newcastle is massive, with a game in hand on the North Stars it gives the opportunity for the Bears to put pressure on the teams above. And while it's hard to not look ahead at what could be in store for the future, Adams says that there is a tendency to glance at the fixture "It is always hard not to look forward and go "if we do this, and then that, etc", but that is all meaningless unless you actually put the points on the board. The cliché is true, you really do have to focus on one game at a time."
With the Bears hitting the ice during the week with greater enthusiasm from a week off, the Hunter Ice Skating Stadium is a place everyone should keep an eye on this Sunday afternoon.
By Andrew Macdougall