The Sydney Maple Leafs have taken first honours of the AJIHL Finals weekend with a 7-2 victory over the Melbourne Red Wings. Andrew Hewitt reports.
Coming into the AJIHL Finals on a hot streak, the Sydney Maple Leafs went straight on the attack in Game 1 of their AJIHL Finals Series against the Melbourne Red Wings, controlling the puck and forcing Melbourne goalie Robert Summons onto the back foot early.
Shepherd, who had a great game played the regular season with the Sydney Lightning and is ‘on loan’ for the AJIHL Finals. The reason for the loan status being due to five Maple Leafs players away representing Australia at the World Championships. The ‘loan’ was agreed on by both teams and cleared by the league prior to the start of the game.
Also ‘on loan’ from the Lighting was Cameron Todd who added the Maple Leaf’s second goal less than a minute after Shepherd’s opener.
Summons came under fire once more when Scott Clemie scored just six seconds into the second period making it three unanswered Maple Leaf goals in under two minutes of actual playing time.
Despite earning more of the possession the Red Wings weren’t able to breakthrough before the hot Leaf’s added a fourth. With his team’s second Power Play goal, Maple Leafs leading scorer heading into the AJIHL Finals, Tyler Kubara slotted his first of the game.
With the second period coming to an end and needing a goal to stay in touch, Red Wings Captain Brendan McDowell who had been quiet up until this point chimed in with his team’s first goal of the afternoon giving the home team some hope.
McDowell scored again at the beginning of the final period however the Maple Leaf lead was soon back out to three when Scott Clemie added his second of the game off an assist from Shepherd.
Tempers started to rise when the ‘on loan’ Todd was pulled up for a check to the head which earned him twelve minutes in penalty minutes.
The Red Wings looked uncomfortable with the extra man and the team that had conceded the most short-handed goals soon found themselves with another in that column. It would be Todd who again proved too strong for the Red Wings defence and with a handy four goal buffer it was time to celebrate.
The celebrations continued less than a minute later when Samuel Lammert added the Maple Leafs seventh goal, hammering the final nail in the Red Wings’ coffin.
Reading 7-2, the scoreboard couldn’t be much sadder for the Red Wing and they will have to re-group if they are to figure in Game 2 to be played on Sunday afternoon.