|Semi-Final Preview: Bears v Thunder
Head to Head
Both coach and captain for the Thunder seem to understand the task ahead as the team look to advance to their first Grand Final.
“We don’t have the best record against the Bears this season. But finding some late form has helped us to feel good about ourselves going in and you just have to know that on any given day, the way the Finals work, any team can come out and put on one good performance to find themselves in the Final and we just have to believe that this year this team has what it takes” Coach Dave Ruck said.
“This team’s experience in losing I think is part of what motivates us to do what it takes this year,” captain James Woodman said. “We’ve found our own way to lose that game each year, and as hard as that is we’ve taken each of those games as an important lesson and this year we all feel like we have what it takes and this year we have all come together as a team. Without Landon it’s going to be important for us all to come together and step up and take on the load of not having him out there on the ice with us.”
Discipline will also be a key factor, as the Bears powerplay has been lethal at times (29%), and the Thunder have had penalty kill troubles throughout the season.
This year’s Bears squad has shown more than the shut down defensive nature of old, and has evolved into a team that can both shut down a team defensively and put enough goals on the board to make them a hard team to come up against in a game where anything can happen. Their style of play is perfectly complimented by the stellar goaltending they receive from 2018 AIHL Goaltender of the Year Anthony Kimlin (2.39GAA/9.20SV%), and he will be especially key to this year’s run for the champsionship coming up against an offensively minded Thunder squad in the semi-final.
Keys To Success
Another aspect that will be crucial to a Bears win is a team effort. Led by captain Michael Schlamp, the team will rely on both local leadership and important talent to come together as they have done this year. Charles Adams and Ryan Lough will be key players for the Bears, and if they can make an impact the Bears will be a tough squad to beat.