The Perth Thunder managed to complete a much-needed bounce back win against a depleted Melbourne Ice squad, at Perth Ice Arena on Saturday.
The Thunder found themselves with an early lead in the game, and they managed to continue to apply pressure and put together a full three periods of hockey. Perth cemented the score at 5-2, in what was a morale and momentum boosting win of an otherwise struggling Perth squad.
After two tough losses in Canberra the weekend prior, Thunder captain Jamie Woodman said the team got together in the locker-room and rallied around each other to come back and make a statement against the Ice this weekend.
“Obviously this was a big win for us to show our fans and the rest of the league that we aren’t giving up on this season,” Woodman said after the win.
“We all knew we’ve been playing games this year and just not turning up at times, and today was just as much about proving to ourselves that we have a great team here and if we play the right way, we can come out and compete in this league more than we have at times this season.”
After Keven Veilleux opened the scoring early in the first period, the Thunder seemed to rally around the momentum gained in the first five minutes of play. Before the Ice could muster an answer to Veilleux’s goal it was 2-0 off the stick of Woodman, who deflected the puck in front to beat Sebastian Andersson and double the Thunder’s lead.
The Ice looked a little rattled after the second goal. As they pushed back at the other end of the ice, Nico Viksten was beaten by Melbourne import J.M Piotrowski who cut the score to 2-1 in favour of the Perth side.
However, before the buzzer sounded to end the first period the Thunder continued their first period onslaught. Perth headed into the locker-room with a 3-1 lead, after Ben Breault netted a goal in the dying minutes of the initial period of play.
The second period saw the Ice tighten up defensively however, Shaun Tobin was able to find the back of the net for the Thunder pushing the score to 4-1. Viksten was forced to make several crucial saves to keep his team with a comfortable lead heading into the third.
With the Thunder leading by three with twenty minutes still to play, the Ice seemed eager to continue to apply pressure in front of the Perth goal crease. Viksten again had to be strong in net to allow his team to push through the final period, with a lead that seemed at times to look less and less comfortable as the third period continued on. Andersson however, seemed to look far more comfortable in net for the Ice in the third, making several huge saves to prevent the Thunder from pushing the game beyond reach for his own side.
In the end, it was Louick Marcotte that sealed the win for the Thunder with a goal in the later stages of the third period to push the score to what would be the final tally of 5-2. The win allowed Perth to regain some of the confidence lost in the early stages of what has been a tough season to date.
Melbourne Ice’s coaching staff felt the team was slow out of the gate, but as the game went along they started to find their feet heading into the second half of the game.
“Obviously going 3-1 down in the first period isn’t ideal, but things got a bit more even as we found our game in the second and third,” Assistant Coach Glen Mayer said.
“We had a short bench tonight too as we lost seven players from last week and we didn’t have some of the offense we would normally rely on in those situations. But you can’t make excuses and you have to step up and play with the guys you have on the bench at the time.”
From here the Ice travel to Adelaide for the second leg of a big travel weekend for the team, and an opportunity to bounce back against a struggling Adrenaline squad.
“We’ve obviously got to look to bounce back tomorrow, and as much as Adelaide is struggling this year, we are in a similar situation so it’s going to be a tough game for both squads to try and get their game going in the right direction.,” Mayer said.
The Thunder head into the All-Star break with an important win to boost team moral as they hope to get their season back on track.
“We’ve had a really tough schedule lately and obviously things haven’t gone our way, but we’ve played the best team in the league in our last four out of five games and Canberra is a tough team, they have some incredible players and they really took it to us,” Woodman said.
“So, for us as a group, we knew that this was an opportunity today to bounce back and take some much-needed points.”
As both teams head into a bye week the AIHL All-Star break will give the Ice a chance to reset and regroup, with players not able to play this weekend potentially available for the Melbourne Derby on 22nd June.