Sunday, August 26, 2018 - Submitted by Lucas Miles
In a game that meant everything in the AIHL Finals race for the season, Perth Thunder managed to come out and put on a classic performance in their final home game of 2018 at Perth Ice Arena, beating the Northstars 5-3.
The Perth side were trailing by a goal with just ten minutes to go in regulation before they managed to fire three goals in just over a minute to claim a classic victory and finish off their season with a bang.
The Thunder had been outshot again by a tough Northstars team, but as they have done many times this season, the team managed to find a way to dig deep and get a win that was more important for the team’s confidence heading into the semi final than it was for the AIHL’s standings.
“Today really helped us feel good about next weekend, just on the mental side of things winning this game just gives us that little bit of extra confidence as we move into next week,” Thunder Coach Dave Ruck said after the team had completed the comeback win.
“today we proved that we have a little bit of that mental toughness. Sometimes you just need to take it as it comes and keep focused and keep battling to find the win.”
The first period saw the Northstars take a two-goal lead into the second with goals from Nick Rivait and Tomas Landa. But the Thunder clawed their way onto the scoreboard with ten minutes remaining in the second period as Ben Breault netted his first of a two goal night to put the score at 2-1 and keep the game interesting.
Just a few moments later, a devastating hit by Landon Oslanksi on Nick Rivait found him in serious jeopardy of missing out on Finals weekend as he was assessed a match penalty for checking to the head with eight minutes remaining in the second period.
This seemed to take the game to a different level, with scrums breaking out after almost every whistle during the remaining minutes of the second period.
To make matters worse, the Northstars were able to capitalise on the ensuing five minute major penalty as Shane Southwood put the Newcastle squad up 3-1 heading into the final period.
The Thunder however seemed to regain composure. And after the break they managed to find their game again in the third, netting four unanswered goals as P.O. Grandmaison first put the score at 3-2 half way through the period before Jordan Kyros stepped through the neutral zone to level the score, and put the crowd on their feet with just 1:46 left on the clock.
From there, the Northstars seemed rattled, and the Thunder pounced on the momentum with two goals in the form of Breault with the go ahead goal with 39 seconds left in regulation, before Grandmaison had sealed the win, putting the score to 5-3 with the final goal scored just three seconds before the buzzer sounded.
With the comeback win the Thunder ready themselves for a tough matchup against the Sydney Bears next week, and the Northstars conclude a tough fought season, falling just short of the final four as the Mustangs found the points needed on Sunday to advance to the AIHL Finals next weekend as well.
Perth Thunder look ahead where they hope to finally put together a semi-final effort that can bring them that one step closer to the Goodall Cup than the team has ever managed to take before. There is still the unanswered question as to whether or not they will have one of their best players joining them on the ice as Oslanksi finds out his fate later in the week.