A 4-goal third period from Jesse Gabrielle has seen the CBR Brave take all 6 points from their Melbourne road trip, after a 4-2 defeat of the Mustangs on Sunday afternoon at the O’Brien Icehouse.
The Brave forward took control of the game singlehandedly in the third period, after only one goal was scored in the previous two. The win extended the Brave’s lead at the top of the AIHL ladder over the second-placed Newcastle Northstars.
The game opened up at the same pace as the previous game the night before, with both teams exchanging end-to-end shifts and some hard checks.
Connor Riley had the best chance for the Brave early in the period, when he attempted to lift his shot over Kevin Nastiuk, only to put it over the glass from point blank range.
Jamie Bourke and Vadim Virjassov also had opportunities to convert for the Mustangs, but were kept out by the goaltending of Matt Climie.
Despite the fast-paced first period, it would remain scoreless with the Brave having the advantage in the shots column 11-5.
It would remain scoreless until the Mustangs were able to tally one midway through the second through Jordan Owens.
Owens took the puck from Tom Flack and cut across the high slot, putting a beautiful backhand over the left shoulder of Matt Climie, to give the Mustangs the lead with 11:49 to play in the second period.
Owens’ goal was the only one of the period and the Mustangs, like the Saturday game, had a 1-0 lead this time going into the second intermission.
The third period belonged entirely to Jesse Gabrielle. The Brave forward put two goals past Nastiuk in the first two minutes to give the Brave a 2-1 lead.
The game continued it’s chippy theme from Saturday night, with tensions boiling over throughout the third period and plenty of penalties to boot. However, neither team could convert on the power play.
Gabrielle bucked the trend, albeit while short-handed, with a goal to silence the Mustangs’ crowd and give his side a 3-1 lead with 6:53 to go.
That was until Owens answered for the Mustangs on the power play less than 30 seconds later with another great goal. His second of the game clawed the deficit back to one goal with 6:29 remaining.
However, Gabrielle put the game beyond doubt with an empty-net goal before the end of regulation to make it 4-2 and seal a 6-point weekend for CBR, opening a buffer for the Brave atop the AIHL ladder.
Climie stopped 23 of 25 in the win, while Nastiuk turned aside 23 of 27.
The Brave finished 0/5 on the power play, while the Mustangs converted 1 out of 5 chances on the man advantage.
Brave head coach Rob Starke was pleased to take all 6 points from the weekend and admitted it was a tough slog on the road.
“It was a tough game tonight. It was 1-0 going into the third but we found a way to score 4 big goals and finish a really great weekend for us,” Starke said.
“Both goaltenders played really well and both teams took a very consistent, structured approach to both games.”
Mustangs’ Assistant Coach Jon Moses was satisfied with his team’s performance despite the loss.
“The boys did what we asked them too. They stayed disciplined, back checked hard and protected the house,” Moses said.
“We’re not as decisive in front of goals as I would like us to be, so there’s a few things to work on there.”
The Mustangs will host the Newcastle Northstars on Sunday 7th July at the O’Brien Icehouse, while the Brave will travel to Sydney to face the Ice Dogs at Macquarie on Sunday afternoon.