Fresh from a nightmare weekend in Melbourne, the Sydney Bears returned to home ice to face the Perth Thunder. Considering the news that was filtering around the small crowd at Sydney Ice Arena, a 4-1 win to the Perth Thunder was far from many people’s minds on Saturday July 19.
Battling to avoid the wooden spoon for the 2014 AIHL ladder but a small mathematical chance of making the finals, you could be forgiven for thinking that both teams would have a lot to play for. Before the game, news filtered through of a bus crash involving the Adelaide Adrenaline while enroute to play the CBR Brave in Canberra. It would be hard to know how much of an effect this had on the players before the game but the thoughts of many at the arena were down south. As was Myles’ experience of AIHL community in Melbourne before the game between the Melbourne Mustangs and the Newcastle North Stars, many thoughts and much concern was expressed in the stand before, during and after the game.
Maybe I’ve been spoilt since returning from overseas by seeing both Sydney teams, both Melbourne teams and CBR Brave live but the start of this game seemed slow. The middle of the game – slow. The end of the game – slow. The Bears were giving Perth Thunder tender Mathieu Dugas easy glove saves while at the other end of the ice, Sydney Bears tender Daniel Palmkvist was starting again despite conceding 4 goals in 6 minutes against the Melbourne Ice in last week’s 10-1 shooting gallery win to the home team in Melbourne. Getting some confidence back was important for the Bears.
The Thunder opened up the scoring with a goal by Stuart Stefan, assisted by Justin Fox. After the goal with 11.58 on the clock, the crowd waited for the Bears to find their feet and pick the pace of the game up. Apart from a penalty against the Thunder (holding, Andrew Cox) with 2.18 remaining, the puck was going up and down the ice but with little action. Somehow, the Bears led shots at goal 10-7 despite trailing 1-0 at the first Zamboni break.
The second period started as the first period ended. The Bears looked to have got onto the scoreboard with 3.51 remaining in the second period. The on-ice officials ruled a goal immediately and the Thunder protested. After a mid-ice conference, the goal was waved off (maybe Daryl Hamilton blew his whistle in Melbourne or something!) and the score remained 1-0 to the Thunder.
Seemingly stunned after having a perfectly good goal disallowed, the Thunder took advantage and clocked up 2 quick goals. Andrew Cox (assisted by Robert Haselhurst) scored first at 3.22 and then Justin Fox (assisted by Jonathon Bremner and Stuart Stefan) at 2.31 took the score from 1-0 then 2-0 and 3-0. There were no penalties in the second period. Shots on goal were even (10-10) but still in second or third gear.
In the third period, Robert Haselhurst spent some quality time in the Thunderbox (interfence at 11.33 and 4.26 for tripping). It was during Haselhurst’s second visit to the penalty box where the Bears registered a messy but much needed powerplay goal in traffic to get the puck past Mathieu Dugas. Lee Turner scored for the Bears (assisted by Sean Hamilton Steen and Ben DiMarco) in their only goal for the game. There was a further period of 4 on 4 hockey due to penalties at 2.18. Bear Branden Stobbs was dispatched for a high stick while Thunder Stuart Stefan also went off the ice at the same time for interference.
As the clock wound down, the Thunder added to their tally with an empty net goal with Jordan Kyros firing the puck from the suburbs with 18 seconds to go in what was almost a powerplay goal. Despite being outclassed on the ice, somehow the Bears managed to out-shoot the Thunder 18-11 for the period and 38-28 for the game. They had their chances but were playing a defensive game as has been their modus operandi for most of this season. It was not the prettiest win by the Thunder but they did what they had to do. After the game, Thunder coach Stan Scott reported that he had no issues with the match and was happy with his players’ efforts.
The Bears were due to play the Adelaide Adrenaline in the second home game for the weekend however that game was postponed due to the Adrenaline bus crash. Both teams are due to meet in Adelaide next weekend for a double header. Meanwhile, the Thunder have an appointment with the Sydney Ice Dogs on Sunday afternoon followed by hosting CBR Brave next weekend. These games may determine the wooden spoon winner for the season.
Perth Thunder 4 defeated Sydney Bears 1 at Sydney Ice Arena
- Thunder: Stuart Stefan, Andrew Cox, Justin Fox, Jordan Kyros (EN)
- Bears: Lee Turner (PP)
- Thunder: Justin Fox 2, Robert Haselhurst, Jonathon Bremner, Stuart Stefan
- Bears: Sean Hamilton Steen, Ben DiMarco