|Third period heroics lead Mustangs over Adrenaline
A four-goal third period has helped the MOAT: Melbourne Mustangs beat the second-placed Adelaide Adrenaline 6-2 at the Medibank Icehouse on Saturday night.
The Mustangs went into the game without import defenceman Jack Wolgemuth, who sustained a broken jaw after copping a puck to the face at training this week.
On the plus side, the return of Joey Hughes to the line-up proved to be vital for the Mustangs, who were able to apply more consistent offensive pressure, freeing up Jamie Bourke and Pat O’Kane to create scoring opportunities.
Mustangs coach Brad Vigon was pleased to have Hughes back in the team but it took a rev-up from assistant coach Mark ‘Chuck’ Connelly to get the team playing with heart.
“Tonight, getting Joey back in the lineup, the lines just seemed to click and just do their role,” Vigon said. “[Chuck] really just got the guys to think about playing with heart and with determination, and playing through adversity, which we’re obviously doing now that Jack [Wolgemuth] is out. And after we had such a disappointing game in Sydney, doing some soul-searching and finding our heart.”
Adrenaline captain Greg Oddy lamented missed opportunities and their lack of time deep in the Mustangs zone.
“Once we got down there we started generating a lot of chances, lots of good things happening, but obviously didn’t spend as much time in their end in the third as we wanted to,” Oddy said.
It was the Adrenaline who put the first score on the board, capitalising on a power play early in the game. Alternate captain Josh Harding deflected a shot from Brett Liscomb to put the visitors 1-0 up barely a minute into the game.
But it didn’t take long for the Mustangs to find some rhythm, scoring two goals in 38 seconds that were essentially carbon copies of one another. Viktor Gibbs-Sjödin scored the Mustangs’ first after Joey Hughes fed one across the slot giving Gibbs a whole lot of net to bury the puck in before Brendan McDowell set up Jamie Bourke in a similar fashion, going to the break 2-1 to the Mustangs.
After a scoreless second period, the Mustangs clicked into top gear in the final period. Import Martin Kutek set the pace early in the third, scoring a power play goal that was followed just 12 seconds later by Pat O’Kane, who deftly put it through goaltender Mike Will’s five-hole on the backhand.
When the Adrenaline responded with a Brett Liscomb goal, the South Australian's had some hope but the Mustangs quickly reasserted their dominance.
Mustangs captain Sean Jones put the nail in the coffin when he stole the puck in neutral ice before deking Will and putting it high-glove side, before Pat O’Kane picked up his second of the game in the dying minutes.
O’Kane, who has been struggling to score goals in recent weeks, was pleased score get on the board, tallying two goals and an assist. His teammates also chipped in with four players also contributing to goals.
“I didn’t want to stress too much,” O’Kane said. “I think I’ve been fighting it the last few games. I was just not getting breaks that I would normally get but tonight it started to come together.”
“But the team played great,” he continued. “We have three solid lines so it relieves the pressure a bit on guys like Jamie Bourke and myself and Jack [Wolgemuth]. So now we have multiple guys that can score, it’s good.”
The two teams played again on Sunday afternoon.