In a thrilling end to the AJIHL Finals Series, the Sydney Maple Leafs have been crowned the inaugural AJIHL Champions after taking out a tie-breaking sudden death overtime period. Andrew Hewitt reports.
Scott Clemie sent the entire Sydney Maple Leafs bench into raptures when he scored in the special sudden death overtime period, claiming the inaugural AJIHL Championship.
Earlier that afternoon, the Maple Leafs fell to the Melbourne Red Wings who levelled the AJIHL Finals Series at one game each with a 5-4 overtime victory.
Game 2 of the AJIHL Finals kicked off much the way it had in Game 1 with the Maple Leafs dominating possession and scoring first.
It would be Cameron Todd that would give the Leafs the lead, a lead that if kept would see them named as League Champions despite finishing in last place in the end of season standings.
Todd then turned assistant, a part of a string of passes that led to Nolan Barlow’s successful shot from the high slot doubling the Sydney team’s lead.
Slowly the Melbourne Red Wings found their feet and Brendan McDowell who had a quiet Game 1 compared to his lofty standards started to gain confidence.
That confidence resulted in the Red Wings first goal when McDowell scored on the power play following a penalty to Steven Naidovski for tripping.
The second period was dominated by the Red Wings and the Melbourne side quickly skipped out to a 4-2 lead with goals from Dylan Black and McDowell including a hat-trick for the Red Wings captain.
Cameron Todd narrowed the gap to a single goal shortly before the end of the period lifting his side back into the contest.
Tensions grew in the final regular period of the AJHIL Finals with penalties to either side.
With the clock winding down, Game 2 looked as though the AJIHL Championship would be sent to a tie-breaking 5 on 5, five-minute overtime period.
In stepped Jayden Ryan. With the Red Wings having to kill another penalty, Ryan scored for the Maple Leafs levelling the game with just 26.2 seconds on the clock.
This sent Game 2 into a sudden death overtime period which was fiercely contested by the Red Wings. Despite a 2+10 minute penalty awarded to Red Wings goal scorer Black, the Melbourne side pressed hard. The pressure paid off with Matt Stringer winning the game with a shorthanded goal that would send the AJIHL Championship into a sudden death overtime period.
Tied at one game a piece, the Maple Leafs and Red Wings would both be back to full strength in this special 5 on 5, five-minute sudden death overtime period. The winner of which would be crowned the 2012/13 AJIHL Champions.
As they had been in the third period of Game 2, penalties were a problem for the Red Wings in the tie-breaking OT. Black again found the wrath of the officials sitting for a holding call and then Robert Summons was unluckily pulled up for a trip.
Already tired, killing the Summons penalty would be a real test for the Red Wings and the fresh legs of the Maple Leafs forwards took this as their moment to pounce.
Scott Clemie who had already had a large weekend at the AJIHL Finals stormed the net, found the puck and scored the winner for the Maple Leafs who celebrated in style.
Clemie was named as AJIHL Finals MVP in the post game ceremony which also included awarding the top scorer in the league Brendan McDowell and top goaltender Robert Summons.
By Andrew Hewitt
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