|Ice Dogs claim first Battle of Sydney for 2014
The Ice Dogs took the points in the first Battle of Sydney for 2014, defeating the Bears 6-2 in front of a big crowd at the Sydney Ice Arena on Saturday night.
In an ominous sign for the rest of the league, the Ice Dogs' offence clicked into gear for the second straight match, with John Clewlow leading the way with a hat-trick. Ice Dogs coach Andrew Petrie was full of praise for this team.
“It was a great performance across the board,” Petrie said. “Our specialty teams came together really well. I can see things we’ve been working on at training happening in the game. I was really happy with our overall effort.”
However, it was the Bears who started the game stronger, out shooting the Ice Dogs early and earning a goal through a stinging Sean Hamilton Steen slap shot that beat Ice Dogs goalie Tim Noting on the blocker side.
However, the Ice Dogs response was swift and decisive, scoring three unanswered goals in the final six minutes of the first period through David Dunwoodie, Mitch Bye and John Clewlow.
The Ice Dogs top line of Dunwoodie, Clewlow and Simon Barg proved too much for the Bears’ defence to handle, with the trio combining for 11 points on the night.
Clewlow credited his lines improving chemistry for the success.
“We started the season off pretty slowly, but I’m starting to understand how Simon and Davie play,” Clewlow said. “They’ve played together in the past and it was only a matter of time before we started rolling as a unit.”
Early in the second, the Bears looked to be right back in the game when Steen scored his second through a power play goal to cut the Ice Dogs’ lead to one.
Once again the Ice Dogs answered right back. With Adrian Esposito sent to the penalty box for slashing, it took only seven seconds for Ice Dogs’ forward Richard Tesarik to send a deflection past Bears goalie Daniel Palmkvist to restore the two-goal lead.
Despite penalty problems early in the third, the Ice Dogs’ penalty kill unit was solid with the Bears unable to reduce the deficit. The penalty killing was boosted by key saves from goalie Tim Noting, who turned away 30 out of the 32 shots he faced on the night.
Petrie applauded Noting’s performance in net
“Timmy was rock solid,” Petrie said. “He was tall, he was calm, and he did everything we asked of him. The coaching staff was really happy with his performance.”
Another offensive burst by Clewlow put the game out of the Bears reach, claiming his hat-trick with a booming slap shot from the top of the slot.
The significance of the local derby win was not lost on Clewlow.
“Being the first one of the season, we knew it was going to be a tough,” Clewlow said. “A lot of fans came out and it was a big occasion. It was really important to get the win.”
Rubes reflected on missed opportunities for his side.
“It was a tough loss,” Rubes said. “We started well and had the first goal, but after that it seemed guys were looking for someone else to get the job done. They [the Ice Dogs] are a smart hockey team; you could tell the difference in experience tonight. Unless we play with more effort and heart, we’re not going win games.”
Earlier, former Ice Dogs player and NHL hopeful Nathan Walker was on hand to drop the ceremonial puck before the game.
“It’s great to be home,” Walker said. “I’m here until July before I travel back to the US to prepare for the NHL Draft.”
Next week, the Ice Dogs will travel to South Australia to the take on the Adelaide Adrenaline in a double header while the Bears host the Newcastle North Stars at the Sydney Ice Arena on Sunday.