After months of hard games, the Australian Ice Hockey League season was down to 4 teams on the last weekend of August. The Melbourne Mustangs won the minor premiership and had to play the 2013 Goodall Cup champions, the Sydney Ice Dogs in the first semi final of the weekend.
In front of a packed house at the Medibank Icehouse, the MOAT: Melbourne Mustangs resumed their battle with the Sydney Ice Dogs for semi final 1 on Saturday August 30. The Ice Dogs were the 2013 minor premiers and Goodall Cup holders while the Mustangs were the 2014 minor premiers. The winner of this match would face the winner of the Melbourne Ice v CBR Brave match which followed this game. The previous weekend, the Mustangs travelled to Sydney to face the Ice Dogs at Liverpool. The Ice Dogs won the shootout in a tight and physical game and there was nothing that suggested that if both teams brought their A game to the finals that the match would be any different.
Both teams were looking to make their stamp on the game and the Mustangs scored first just over 3 minutes into the game courtesy of Jeff Grant. The interesting thing about this goal that it was credited to Joey Hughes initially while several people at the rink commented on social media that the goal should have been credited to Jeff Grant. At the start of the third period, it was announced that the goal indeed would be credited to Jeff Grant with an assist to Joey Hughes and Sean Jones.
The Ice Dogs got onto the scoreboard with 7.38 left on the clock in the first period with a Mitch Bye goal while a David Dunwoodie power play goal late in the period saw the Ice Dogs lead at the first Zamboni break 2-1. The zebras kept their whistles in their pockets in terms of penalties until later in the period with one penalty for each team.
Goal scoring in the second period was all Mustangs. Within a short period, Jamie Bourke and Joey Hughes added their names to the scoresheet, Hughes’ goal coming from a powerplay. Try as they might, the Ice Dogs could not get past Mustangs tender Fraser Carson during the second period. The visitors were not helped by no power plays during the period. Penalties were light on the ground again with only 2 penalties in the second period. The Mustangs out shot the Ice Dogs 16-6 in the period.
Early in the 3rd period, John Clewlow scored for the Ice Dogs to tie the scores at 3-3. Enter the Viking, Viktor Gibbs Sjodin. With just over 8 minutes to go, Viktor fired a shot past Tim Noting to give the Mustangs the lead. The puck was fired with that much force that I thought that the puck could later be found somewhere within Groove Train after the match, a real highlights reel special. Almost 2 minutes later, the un-hypenated Gibbs Sjodin was at it again, this time scoring at close range. For both goals, he was assisted by Jamie Burke and Pat O’Kane. Givng the Ice Dogs some late hope, David Dunwoodie scored his second power play goal of the afternoon to brimg the margin back to Mustangs 5-4. Dunwoodie had spent some time in the penalty box earlier in the period alongside Jamie Bourke after a confrontation between the two. Bourke added an empty net goal and the candle to the birthday cake late in the game to seal the game with 25 seconds to go in the game and book a grand final spot.
After the match, Ice Dogs coach Andrew Petrie lamented the fact that his team did not play for the complete 50 minutes. He explained that there were 2 periods of around 5 minutes that were costly where his side were not fully switched on. Meanwhile at the other end of the tunnel, Mustangs coach Brad Vigon was happy with his side’s performance to make their first grand final. In Vigon’s eyes, there was not much that he would like to tweak in the short turnaround in between games. In previous interviews, he had spoken about the good Mustangs turning up compared to the bad Mustangs. Today, the good Mustangs were clearly on display.
Statistically, the Ice Dogs converted both of their power plays into goals courtesy of David Dunwoodie. The Mustangs converted 1 of 3 of their power plays. Shots at goal favoured the Mustangs in the first two periods however the shots were even in the last period. Final shots at goal favoured the Mustangs 35-22. Between the pipes, Fraser Carson saved 18/22 for the Mustangs while for the Ice Dogs, Tim Noting saved 29/34. With little injury concerns, the Mustangs would be ready for the winner of the Ice/Brave game that was to follow. With the benefit of hindsight, this is the grand final that never happened. With a result that was not confirmed until the final horn, this was a high qualitty game. The following 2 games had quality moments but the overall quality in this game was the best of the 3 over the weekend.
Melbourne Mustangs 6 defeated Sydney Ice Dogs 4 at Medibank Icehouse, Melbourne
- Melbourne Mustangs: Viktor Gibbs Sjodin 2, Jamie Bourke 2, Joey Hughes, Jeff Grant
- Sydney Ice Dogs: David Dunwoodie 2, John Clewlow, Mitch Bye
- Melbourne Mustangs: Jamie Bourke 2, Viktor Gibbs Sjodin 2, Pat O’Kane 2, Joey Hughes, Jeff Grant, Sean Jones, Jack Wolgemuth
- Sydney Ice Dogs: Robert Malloy 2, Richard Tesarik 2, Paddy Ward, John Clewlow, Mitch Bye, Simon Barg