Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Match Focus: Ice v Blue Tongues

Melbourne Ice v Gold Coast Blue Tongues
June 17, Icehouse - 3:30pm

With the AIHL resuming this weekend, everyone is rested up & ready to play. Fans are also looking forward to the resumption of the competition, so i have taken a look at a match up which i thought was one of the most intriguing of the weekend.

Melbourne Ice play host to the Gold Coast Blue Tongues on Sunday afternoon, I find the whole situation very interesting considering the events which have taken place already this season between the two clubs. Surprise results, a called off fixture & relocation of the Tongues to a different home rink have all involved the two teams so far in 2012.

When the two teams met previously in Melbourne, the Blue Tongues walked out with a commanding 4-0 victory. Since then the Tongues have only played once more, which was a home loss against the Ice 5-2 just before the Queen's Birthday weekend. You would expect the Tongues to be very refreshed when they arrive at the Icehouse, but things might not fall into place, the off ice distractions could also come into play as the players minds might not have been focused throughout the week. The quick resolution between the club & AIHL on finding a new home i feel is something which would make that latter, well, pretty much a non factor.

Melbourne on the other hand welcomed the Adrenaline to Melbourne, they went 2 for 2 as the Adelaide side headed back across the boarder empty handed. They now sit on top of the Easton Conference standings with 22 points, 12 clear of the Blue Tongues in 4th position. The clubs form has been great & the ability to pick up important wins against their Easton Conference rivals, gives them not only the Easton top spot, but league also.

The difference in standings position can't be taken too lightly, of course the Ice look to be a dominant team again this season, but the Blue Tongues form from their last visit to Melbourne can't be ignored.  So far this season the Tongues are 2 wins 2 loses on the road,  a 50% record this season, with one game against the Mustangs being decided on a shootout. With the Blue Tongues showing they are able to travel across the country in fairly good shape, things will be made difficult by Mike McRae and co.

The Ice continue to make their home a fortress, the only blemish this season coming at the hands of the Blue Tongues. 5 wins from 6 matches played at home, shows exactly how hard it is for teams to travel to Melbourne in search of that elusive win.

The biggest plus for the Ice is the return of Tommy Powell, who has been missing so far this season after injuring his knee on International duty for Australia. Having a Mighty Roo included into the lineup this weekend is something i don't even need to explain, an important member of the Ice's Goodall Cup winning team last season, his presence alone is something which will boost the whole lockeroom. 

I think the match will be a tight contest, both teams keep things fairly tidy in front of the net. Tongues boast the best goal against record in the league, equal with Perth Thunder on 28 goals, while the Ice aren't that much further behind on 30.

Back to back wins for the Blue Tongues in Melbourne & they leap up the standings, a win for the Ice & it consolidates their spot at the top.

If i had to pick a winner, you can't go past the Ice's home form. Ice 3-2 winners.

Melbourne Ice

Last 5: WWWLW
Standings: 1st, Easton Conference

Gold Coast Blue Tongues

Last 5: LWLLL
Standings: 4th, Easton Conference

Last Meeting: Gold Coast Blue Tongues 2-5 Melbourne Ice, Iceland Ice Skating Rink.

Key Player: Jason Baclig (8 goals, 15 assists) - Once again the Ice's skillful forward is having another great start to an AIHL season. He is the one player which always comes up with the big plays & there is no doubt he will be a handful once again this weekend, Gold Coast will need to keep him in check if they expect to get anything out of their trip to Melbourne.

By Andrew Macdougall

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