Brian Funes and Billy Cliff have held their nerve for the Sydney Ice Dogs as they came from behind to beat cross-town rivals the Sydney Bears 5-4 in a shootout to end their trial fixture at the Liverpool Catholic Club Ice Rink.
It was a strong crowd for the small Liverpool rink and they were rewarded with a brilliant match that had everything – including eight goals between the teams, fights, big hits and a shootout finish.
After Bears Czech import Tomas Landa missed his shot in the shootout, 21-year old Brian Funes and 19-year old Billy Cliff each scored to give the Ice Dogs a win over the Bears.
Stand-in captain Robert Malloy said that the team expected a lot out of its young players and Funes and Cliff proved they were up to the challenge.
“We have 100% confidence in those guys, especially in a shootout situation,” Malloy said. “They’re smooth and it’s good to see young guys stepping up and it just goes to show that we have a lot of depth. We’ll do some big things this year.”
It had been a back and forth match with the Ice Dogs never leading, but the Bears never getting more than a goal away.
The Dogs showed great tenacity as a team to stay with the Bears, who had three goals disallowed, including one for having too many players on the Ice, one for high sticking and one for a puck that deflected off the rafters.
The Bears opened the scoring through Tomas Landa, who got out on breakaway from the initial drop, scoring after only seven seconds.
Landa, who in this game and the last, has been one of the Bears standouts, continually showed his class with deft stick work and a quick turn of speed.
The Czech import ended the match with two, which captain Brett Nelson-Bond also scored a double.
However, it wasn’t long before the faithful Ice Dogs fans were treated to an unbelievable goal courtesy of stand-in captain Robert Malloy.
Malloy, the only Ice Dogs import who played yesterday, showed masterful stick handling slicing past three of the Bears defenders, leaving only one to beat.
Pinning the ears back and sprinting towards goal, Malloy tripped in the contest, keeping control enough to slot the goal and finish off an amazing passage of play.
Other goal scorers for the Dogs were David Dunwoodie, Tyler Kubara and Matt Pease.
It was a tight game and one that deserved the draw as both teams appeared to be even.
It was a game that saw end-to-end hockey and a great spectacle for fans, which will only get better as both teams welcome back key players from the Australian Mighty Roos team.
Ice Dogs captain Malloy said that the match was a “character win” for a team still down on personnel.
“Hopefully the win will get us rolling for the first game around, with a rivalry match for the first game of the season, the Connecticut-born second year import said.
“There is no love lost between our two teams. It is a heated rivalry and any time we are out on the ice, we are going to be pretty serious, no matter if it’s a scrimmage or a regular season game. It makes for a good competition.”
With only two weeks before the regular season starts, the league is already in store for another bumper season, if these games are anything to go by.
by Andrew McMurtry
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