A week after scoring 10 goals against Adelaide Adrenaline the Kodiak Melbourne Mustangs have suffered their biggest defeat of the season in an 11-4 loss to the CBR Brave.
Facing last year’s Goodall Cup champions for the first time, the third placed Mustangs got off to the perfect start in Canberra with Vadim Virjassov scoring in the opening minute.
However, the joy was short lived as the home side dominated thereafter with the Brave scoring three shorthanded goals to end the first period.
The hosts added a fourth goal 5:20 into the second period, forcing the Mustangs to change goalies with Michael Breedveld replacing Jaden Pine-Murphy.
Following the swap Jamie Bourke made it 4-2 after 12:18 had been played in the second but once again the Mustangs conceded late.
First, Wehebe Darge took advantage of the powerplay to score with 1:16 to go, before Jesse Gabriellenetted 44 seconds later.
In the third an early score toVirjassov gave the Mustangs some hope but the Brave put the result to bed, grabbing five of the final six goals in the contest.
Matt Anderson’s fourth goal of the season - 41 seconds after Gabrielle completed his hat-trick - came in between the Brave’s eighth and ninth goals.
Mustangs coach Max Parent said his team didn’t do much wrong against the second placed Brave but was left rattled after their opponents’ three shorthanded scores.
“I don’t think we had a really bad period, they scored lot of quick goals and were just really opportunistic putting the puck in the back of the net every time they had a chance,” he said.
“They are a very skilled team and with their firepower up front they’re always going to be a very difficult team to beat but we did make some little mistakes and every time they made us pay.
“Down 4-1 we saw a good opportunity to play young goalie Michael Breedveld and I think he did pretty well even though the score might not reflect that…he made some very good saves.”
While the margin of defeat was one the Mustangs won’t want to see again, Parent said there was plenty to take away from the game.
“After we won 10-2 against Adelaide, the result against Canberra shows there’s not a single night in this league that you can take off,” he said.
“A few of our weaknesses got exposed but they’re the kind of losses you want early in the season so that you can learn from them and make improvements for the back half of the season.
“The small ice really helps them; it’s perfectly suited for the team they have whereas the big ice is a lot more suited to our type of play.
“We play them again in three weeks’ time so it’s going to be interesting to see what happens there.”
Aside from their clash with the Brave the Mustangs were set to play in Sydney on Saturday but their match against the Ice Dogs was called off after the team’s flight was cancelled that morning.
The game is expected to be rescheduled and will most likely be played in August.
There are no matches this weekend with the AIHL All Star Game taking place in Sydney.
Four Mustangs players will participate with Vadim Virjassov and Bradley Apps the team’s local players selected while Christian Isackson and Parker Thomas will represent as imports.