VENUE & DATE: Ice Arena, Adelaide, Saturday July 13 @ 4:30pm and Sunday July 14, 2013 @ 3:30pm
LAST TIME: July 6, 2013: Adrenaline 5 defeated Knights 4 (SO) @ Phillip Icehouse, Canberra.
WHAT’S WHAT: Adelaide and Canberra round out their season-series – and third meeting in a fortnight – when they clash in a doubleheader at the Ice Arena in Adelaide this weekend.
The Adrenaline came out on top in a shootout last weekend in Canberra, exacting revenge for a 3-2 defeat to the Knights on the season’s opening day.
But Adelaide missed vital points last Sunday, as they backed up their win in Canberra with a 6-3 loss to the Sydney Ice Dogs.
After picking up only two points from a possible six, Adelaide find themselves five points adrift of fourth place Perth Thunder and four behind the Melbourne Mustangs – having played more games than both sides.
Working in Adelaide’s favour is the the fact eight of their remaining ten games – including the two games this weekend – will be played on home ice.
They also host Perth, and play the Mustangs on the road in vital clashes on the run home.
To be in a position to fight with those sides for a finals position, Adelaide must first deal with Canberra – something they have struggled to do this season.
Adelaide were forced to come-from-behind last weekend, before a late Knights goal forced a shootout and restricted Adelaide to two points.
Matthew Haywood was the star for Adelaide – in his AIHL debut – scoring the winning goal in the shootout to go with a tally in regulation, before scoring shorthanded against the Ice Dogs a day later.
The Knights – on a twelve-game losing streak – looked an improved unit with their lineup back to near full-strength.
Canberra have not only a poor recent record to overcome, but a poor all-time record in South Australia.
The Knights won on their most recent visit to Adelaide – 3-2 on 28 April 2012 – but had lost on their previous six attempts.
Adelaide will be looking for maximum points, after settling for two points in two shootout losses to the Newcastle North Stars in their last home-stand.
The Adrenaline were without the Ouellette brothers for those match-ups, while Luc Blain was out and Haywood was yet to have signed for the side.
Given that, Adelaide possess a far more potent lineup than the one which pushed highflying Newcastle all the way a fortnight ago.
However, Adelaide have to maintain their discipline after allowing Canberra two power play goals on five opportunities last weekend.
The games start at 4:30pm on Saturday, and 3:30pm on Sunday at the Adelaide Ice Arena.
WHO’S HOT: Wehebe Darge (Adrenaline). 21-year-old Darge has been in great form for the Adrenaline, leading the team (amongst active players) with nine goals. Selected Australia’s best player in their pool game with Serbia at the 2013 IIHF World Championships in April, Darge has caused opposition sides trouble this season with his speed and shooting prowess. Darge has scored seven goals at home – including four against the Sydney Bears – and is closing in on his career best 12 goals from 2012.
Jordan Gavin (Knights). Gavin has overcome a slow start to the season to have points in his last three games. He has scored goals in his last two games to have four for the season in his 11 games. Like Darge, Gavin has also represented Australia. The 30-year-old will be looking to continue his recent streak – and find the form that saw him post career highs in 2012 – as the Knights look to close out the season with some victories.
WE THINK: Adelaide desperately need a haul of points ahead of a gruelling month, where they play Melbourne Mustangs (away), Sydney Ice Dogs (home), and Perth Thunder (home). It is a month that could shape the lower half of the top four, and with the Thunder facing the top two sides on the road this weekend Adelaide have a golden opportunity to begin that stretch on level-terms (albeit with the Thunder having games in hand).
Canberra have shown great improvement the past fortnight, and with a home and home against the seventh-placed Sydney Bears before the end of the season they will be looking to move off the bottom of the standings.
However, a road trip to Adelaide is a daunting task for the Knights. Especially with the Adrenaline’s lines more settled after the arrival of Haywood last weekend.
Saturday: Adrenaline 7-2
Sunday: Adrenaline 6-4
By David Penrose
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