The Medibank Ice House played host to a duo of games on Saturday, as Melbourne’s two teams faced off against Sydney’s in a busy weekend at Docklands. Ian Douglas was there
The Sabres faced off against the Glaciers this sunny afternoon, before the Whalers and Wolf Pack followed suit, as both Sydney teams rolled down to Melbourne. The sunny pre-spring teaser of a day didn’t deter the teams from putting on a show.
In the first period, right from the puck drop, the hits came fast and included some primetime thumpers, of the type that are felt in the stands. The Sabres’ forecheckers were intent on being the first chasing pucks in to the corner, always a courageous strategy, but their hard-nosed efforts were not in vain, as the second period gave rise to a pair of goals after possession was gained through the cycle
It didn’t help that the Glaciers were facing the goaltending of Jonathan Hughes, who was not letting his guard down. He stoned Corey Stringer on a Corey Kwan roughing call in the second period and Scott Maloney late in third, which alongside a pair of opportunistic insurance markers, cemented a 4-0 shutout for the Sabres.
A cheeky pint across the way later, we returned as the puck dropped on the Whalers and Wolf Pack. This was another physical affair – the constant matchups between these two Sydney teams must clearly have bred a physical style of play – and the Pack seemed energized, using their strength along the boards to dictate play for much of the first. Finally, Nolan Barlow opened the scoring for the Pack late in the first with a goal-line rebound tap-in.
After killing a Cameron Smith minor, the Pack, and goalie Jake Burgess, jumped out with more vigour, driving the puck and keeping pressure in the Whalers zone. Cian O’Reilly was fed a great stretch pass and broke in on a breakaway, putting it low corner for a two-nil lead. That would prove to be the difference, after a goal each was traded in the third, and Sydney ended day one of this weekend with a clean record against Melbourne.