The Sydney Lightning will take on the Sydney Maple Leafs in the AJIHL Semi Final this Sunday with the winner taking on one of the Melbourne teams in next week’s AJIHL Finals.
VENUE & DATE :: Penrith Ice Palace, Sunday 3rd of March 5PM
LAST TIME :: 03/02/13 Lightning 4 def. Maple Leafs 3 in Shootout at Penrith Ice Palace
WHAT’S WHAT :: This is it, the Semi Finals, a one-off chance to represent NSW in the Finals of the inaugural AJIHL season. For the majority of the year, it has been the Lightning that has shone the brightest out of the two Sydney based sides with the Maple Leafs holding up the AJIHL standings. In recent times the tides have changed and in the last round of regular competition, the Leafs scored wins against both Melbourne clubs sending the message that they are not to be counted out.
Taking six out of the eight all Sydney match ups throughout the regular season, the Lightning must go into this Semi Final as favourites. The Maple Leafs’ two wins against their home town rivals came in the first half of the season and must mentally reset themselves if they are to make it into the Final.
With a percentage of 89.19%, the Lightning lead the league in killing off penalties however they do themselves no favours being the most penalised team in the AJIHL by almost 40 PIM. If the Lightning do find themselves in penalty trouble, the Maple Leafs must take their opportunities as they are the least successful in the league with the extra man.
WHO’S HOT :: With their outstanding performance in the last round of the regular season, you could say the whole Maple Leafs team however if there was to be one standout it would certainly be Tyler Kubara. Kubara scored 9 points (4G, 5A) in the Maple Leafs two wins over their Melbourne opponents with handy back up from Scott Clemie and Saxon Air.
On the Lightning side of the ledger, Yucca Reinecke has been in good form despite the results of the team. More important to the Lightning will be who will start in goal. Rhett Kelly and Marco Tomasello have literally split the duties this season with Kelly earning just 4 more minutes (316) than his counterpart in the crease. Kelly would be the obvious choice as number one with the better save percentage and goals against average.
WE THINK :: The Maple Leafs may be the form side, but it is the Lightning that has the mental edge over their rivals winning the majority of their match ups. Fans can expect a high scoring, penalty ridden, entertaining game of hockey. With so much on the line both sides will go all out for a spot in the two leg Finals that will take place in Melbourne on the 9th and 10th of March. My tip for this one – Maple Leafs 5-4.