Saturday, June 2, 2018 - Submitted by Alex Jacobs/Alyssa Longmuir.
Woodman and Kratoska collide mid-race. Photo: Rhys Lavender.
The Air Canada Fastest Skater Competition was fast and furious and we finally saw how much speed our favourite skaters have on clear ice. In the first battle of Team Rezek and Team Boyle for the weekend early bragging rights were also on the line which meant this was no simple contest. The cream of the crop rose right at the beginning as Ales Kratoska won for Team Rezek against Kahu Joyce, with that win only a sign of what was to come for Team Rezek.
Rob Haselhurst, Nathan Chiarlitti, Vadim Virjassov and Ellesse Carini added their names to the winners’ list in a sweep by Team Rezek - although Charles Adams gave Chiarlitti a hot contest. Having already tripped one another up at the starting line, the duo crashed together on the home straight and while he looked like a pancake after slapping on the ground, Chiarlitti still scrambled home in first.
Despite the sweep, the final called for a Team Rezek v Team Boyle clash and it was Woodman who took on hometown fave and fasted of the lot, Kratoska. Everyone loves an underdog though and this one had the last laugh after Kratoska careened into him on the home straight. Both skaters fell to their knees and even though Kratoska got up first Woodman spun home with a victory slide and a time of 12.53. Who even needs to skate when you can slide?
Rezek putting a spin on the Breakaway Challenge. Photo: Rhys Lavender.
The APA Group Breakaway challenge is a fan favourite event which allows the players to showcase their creativity, ingenuity and personality as each participant takes three shots on the goalie showcasing the best of their abilities. Joe Rezek took out the competition after a series of shots that makes him the clear favourite to the home crowd. After tying the puck to his stick and playing a short bout of cricket on the ice Rezek also poked fun at the NHL’s goaltender interference rule, removing his jersey to reveal a referee shirt and blowing the whistle on his own shot much to the delight of the crowd.
Nick Rivait putting on a show in style. Photo: Rhys Lavender.
How easy is it to score into the corners of a goal? Facing four targets in the Ola Shooting Accuracy Competition it was all about accuracy and speed. Rezek was again dominant with a blistering time of 12.65 seconds, showing everyone why he’s one of the top players in the country. At the other end was his All-Star teammate, Robert Malloy, who struggled with a time of 23.56, and Virjassov who could only knock out two targets. Team Boyle had their own struggles, however, with Grant Toulmin sneaking in a 19.66 after nearly taking off a teammate’s head with a wayward shot. In the end, Nick Rivait put together the best time for his side at 17.65, setting up a final clash with Rezek. Going first, Rivait perfected his shooting to record a hot 12.65, leaving Rezek with a chance to win it all. He came close but a pair of misses meant Rezek was never in contention and Team Boyle earned a handy win thanks to their Northstar, Rivait.
Ales Kratoska and Kahu Joyce fly down the Ice. Photo: Rhys Lavender.
The Rifle Media Stickhandling competition gives players the opportunity to show off both their puck handling and skating skills. Lliam Webster, Charlie Adams, Caleb Apperson, and Ellesse Carini all performed spectacularly with Webster and Adams both progressing to the final. Adams who plays for the Sydney Bears eventually took the win with a time of 18.15, only just outpacing Webster as they took off up the ice, their pucks seemingly tied to their string as they raced through the obstacle course to the roar of the crowd.
Chiarlitti sending down the ice. Photo: Rhys Lavender.
The Skaters Network Hardest Shot Competition ultimately it came down to a battle between Ice Dogs, but the firepower on show beforehand was at its best. The return of Josh Harding to the ice saw the former Adrenaline skater smash home a shot at 133km/h for Team Rezek. His best was second best, though, to Chiarlitti, who’s 154 km/h rocket was an AIHL best.
For Team Boyle it looked like another former star in David Huxley would be their best with a 128 km/h shot but it was Toulmin who had the final say for his side. After a laughable 115 km/h (don’t worry, it was his teammates and opposition who laughed), Toulmin mashed home a 136 km/h hotshot to set-up a face-off with his Sydney teammate. Starting off with one of his best, Chiarlitti put a daunting 138 km/h shot on the board, and Toulmin was left in the dust with a 116 km/h hit. Playing for their own bragging rights as much as their own team’s, Chiarlitti’s second shot was a touch slower so Toulmin knew what he had to do. Did he do it? Nope. He missed to the right entirely and he might be hearing about it on the flight home.
Oddy making a special appearance on the ice. Photo: Rhys Lavender.
The Ryzer elimination shootout gives every player a chance to showcase their shootout skills in a do or die elimination challenge. The Goaltenders were in top form throughout the evening stopping 27 of the first 32 shots between them. With only 5 players making it through the first round the goalies where is top form before they also got the chance to show off their formidable shooting skills. After three rounds the only remaining player was Sebastian Andersson who is the Adrenaline's starting goalie, outshooting several of the best penalty shot players in the AIHL to take the grand prize.
The Goalie race was a sight to behold. Photo: Rhys Lavender.
It was fast, unglamorous, and a little weird, but the Goalie Race provided plenty of highlights to cap off a fun afternoon. With Sebastian Andersson and Glen Forbes-White representing Team Rezek and Peter Di Salvo and Anthony Kimlin Team Boyle, it was always going to be tight, even if we wouldn’t be unearthing the next Steven Bradbury. A late wildcard entry of Ales Kratoska threw a spanner in the works but despite some jostling and pad-knocking, a late fall couldn’t stop Kimlin from cruising home by a body length.