|Adrenaline pip Mustangs in shootout
The Adelaide Adrenaline claimed victory over the MOAT: Melbourne Mustangs in a come-from-behind shootout thriller at the Medibank Icehouse on Sunday evening.
The win means the Adrenaline retain second position on the increasingly claustrophobic ATC Productions Ladder with just six points separating second from seventh position.
In the second game of the double header, the result largely came down to offensive persistence and superb goaltending from the Adrenaline’s Mike Will ensured the visitors wouldn’t be making the flight back to the Adelaide without some points in the bag.
Adrenaline coach Ryan O’Handley explained how the team turned around from the convincing 6-2 loss the previous night.
“It took us a little bit to find our rhythm,” O’Handley said. “We juggled some lines today to just shake things up a little bit, and you’re always going to take a bit to find the chemistry out there. Our goaltending held us in early until we got settled and we were able to fight our way back into the game and tie it up and end up with a shootout win.”
The Mustangs were left ruing missed opportunities after failing to capitalise on premium scoring chances, leaving lingering questions about their ability to back up on Sunday for double-headers.
“That’s what we’re working on - backing it up,” Mustangs’ veteran defenceman Vinnie Hughes said. “As well as being persistent, being accountable for exactly what we do and all our actions so we accomplish those double point games.”
However, he doesn’t believe fatigue is a factor.
“It’s mental,” Hughes said. “The fitness is there - it’s not fatigue. [The] preparation from the club is 100%. I think we’ve got some of the best medics in the league. [It] is just a mental breakdown of getting the puck out of the zone that can cost you a game.”
After a goalless first period, Joey Hughes hit the ice for the second period looking fired up. In his first shift, his line mate Jeff Grant gained the blue line before dropping it back to Hughes for the one-timer over Mick Will’s blocker.
Most of the game was spent at even strength with both teams only going on the power play once.
The Adrenaline were able to steal a goal on the penalty kill, levelling the score at 1-all when Darren Corstens beat Fraser Carson after an offensive zone faceoff midway through the third period, setting up an exciting finale to the entertaining weekend.
The Mustangs’ reclaimed the one-goal lead a few minutes later when acting captain Pat O’Kane flew down the left wing and fed it across the slot to Brendan McDowell, scoring his third goal of the season. The second assist was also credited to 16-year old Ethan Cornford, who was playing his AIHL debut.
With time running out, the Adrenaline needed to muster another goal quickly. Luckily for the South Australians, a failed Mustangs attempt at clearing the zone led to the equaliser. Corstens claimed his second, firing one from the point that snuck through Carson to force the shootout.
Mike Will was strong in the shootout, turning away Joey Hughes, Jamie Bourke, and Jeff Grant’s attempts.
Adrenaline’s second shooter Dean Peterson claimed the game winner.
Mustangs coach Brad Vigon was pleased with his team’s performance despite the loss.
“We just have to make sure that we capitalise on the chances we get because in my mind we were by far the better team,” Vigon said. “They just hung in there, hung in there, hung in there. [They’re] goaltender played well; we didn’t finish and at the end of the day that cost us two points.”
Both teams are in action next week with the Adrenaline hosting the Sydney Ice Dogs, while the Mustangs will again be at home against the Perth Thunder.