Thursday, April 3, 2014 - Submitted by Tyler Cameron
The Australian National Men’s Team has put on a masterclass against the MOAT: Melbourne Mustangs, winning 9-3 in an exhibition match at the Medibank Icehouse on Thursday night.
The Mighty Roos were led by a hat-trick by the Melbourne Ice’s Lliam Webster as he and his line mates Greg Oddy and Tommy Powell combined for six goals and eight assists.
Mighty Roos head coach, Ryan O’Handley, was buoyed by the performance of the line, praising the “old guys.”
“This is Oddy’s 16th year representing Australia and Webster must be in double figures as well,” O’Handley said. “They’ve played together a lot. We knew there’d be chemistry between those two and Tommy Powell complemented them well tonight. We expected as coaches to see that chemistry and it was evident tonight.”
For the Mustangs, it was a good tune up before the beginning of the AIHL regular season.
Returning import and new alternate captain, Pat O’Kane, looked dangerous all game, putting two past his Mustangs teammate Fraser Carson, who started in net for the national team.
Fans were able to see all three Mustangs goalies with Michael James and Robbie Summons sharing the load for the home side.
It was always going to be a tough game for the Mustangs playing without three of their imports, who are set to arrive next week.
After a seesawing opening period and a half, the Mustangs were well in the match at 2-all, showing they can compete with the best players in the AIHL.
However, the Mighty Roos showed they had an extra gear in the second half of the match.
At 9:11 in the second, Webster fed Powell on an odd-man rush to regain the lead.
Shortly after, the Ice’s Mitch Humphries pick-pocketed the Mustangs’ Vinnie Hughes in his own zone by firing a shot into the right pad of James before the Ice Dogs’ Billy Cliff cleaned up the rebound and extended the Mighty Roos' lead to 4-2.
After a solid first two periods, James was pulled from the net late in the second, allowing Summons his chance between the pipes.
Just 22 seconds after the change, the Ice’s young gun Austin McKenzie took advantage of the fresh goalie to make it 5-2 for the Mighty Roos.
Despite the scoreline, the Mustangs penalty kill proved to be positive, producing a breakaway opportunity for O’Kane to bring up his hat-trick, however Carson denied him.
Momentum was well and truly behind the Mighty Roos despite the Mustangs’ best efforts, with Lliam Webster beating Summons glove side and wedging the puck in the back of the net after a tape-to-tape pass from line-mate Greg Oddy.
The power of the shot was clear with the referee spending at least 30 seconds dislodging the puck from the netting.
Less than half a minute later, Oddy and Webster combined again with Oddy sneaking it through Summons’ pads to make it 7-2.
Vinnie Hughes battled hard all game and continued to apply pressure despite the score line, showing that his experience and tenacity will be valuable to the Mustangs this season.
However, Michael Schlamp and Webster’s hat-trick goal completed a comprehensive win for Australia while Andrew Belic scored a late consolation goal for the Mustangs inside the final minute.
O’Handley was impressed by his goalie Fraser Carson, who he thinks will prove to be a solid back-up goalie for the upcoming World Championships.
“He’s a good goal keeper; he’s earned the right to be on this team,” O’Handley said. “He’s still young so [Anthony] Kimlin is our number one guy when we get to the tournament. Kimlin is going to get the bulk of the work, perhaps all of the work. [Carson] knows that his job is to be ready, and he’s ready to go.”
The Mighty Roos are in Melbourne for a six-day training camp and will play the Melbourne Ice on Saturday in their final warm-up match before flying to Serbia to compete in the IIHF Division 2 Group A World Championships from April 9-15.
The Mustangs will go into full preparation mode with imports Viktor Gibbs Sjöden, Jeff Grant, and Jack Wolgemuth expected to arrive early next week as the Melbournians prepare to face the reigning Goodall Cup champion Sydney Ice Dogs in their season opener on Sunday April 13 at the Icehouse.