|Brave trio tame Mustangs
The CBR Brave got off to the perfect start to the double header against the MOAT: Melbourne Mustangs, defeating the Melbournians 7-4 on Saturday night at the Medibank Icehouse.
The Brave’s prolific import trio were in the thick of the points again with Anton Kokkonen dominating proceedings, picking up a hat trick and two assists, whilst teammate Mathieu Ouellette had one goal and five assists and Stephen Blunden added four assists.
With the Brave leading 5-1 after two periods, the Mustangs capitalised on opportunities in the third, adding a pair of power play goals from Viktor Gibbs Sjödin to tighten up the score line. However, Mustangs head coach Brad Vigon said that their third period fight back was too little too late.
“We didn’t really start playing until the third period,” Vigon said. “We’re not going to win any hockey games [doing that], especially against these guys, they’re hungry. They were hungrier than we were tonight.”
In the first clash between the two teams, much of the first period was easing into the game and waiting for their opponent to make a move. It took until three minutes before the end of the first period for the first strike with Anton Kokkonen claiming his first of the night.
The Brave came out on fire in the second, scoring through James Byers only 12 seconds into the second.
Soon after Joey Hughes put one through Pitkanen to make it 2-1 but the remainder of the period belonged to the visitors.
CBR Brave piled on three goals in less than four minutes leaving the Mustangs faithful stunned.
Jordan Gavin snuck one through Mustangs goalie Michael James, before James Byers, fresh out of the penalty box, scored his second of the night.
Michael James was pulled from goaltending duties after Anton Kokkonen picked up his second of the game at 13:31 after the Mustangs once again failed to clear their own zone.
With one of Gibbs-Sjödin goals early in the third giving the Mustangs a sniff, a Mathieu Ouellette goal reinstated the four-goal lead.
A comeback looked possible after Pat O’Kane and Gibbs-Sjödin narrowed the margin to two with just under five minutes remaining.
But the Mustangs were unable to close the gap further as Anton Kokkonen sealed the victory and his hat-trick 79 seconds from time.
It was a comprehensive victory for the CBR Brave, gaining the top of the ladder again over night. Despite the third period stumbles, Brave head coach Matti Luoma was happy with the points but wary of the Mustangs firepower in the final period as they prepared to meet again in the Sunday clash.
“We were getting a bit too comfortable there in the third with that 5-1 lead,” Luoma said. “And with a top team like that you’re going to pay the price. Overall, the points matter but [the Mustangs] are a very good team.”
Next week both teams have a Saturday game with the CBR Brave travelling to Sydney to take on the Sydney Ice Dogs on Saturday night at the Liverpool Catholic Club, while the Mustangs are at home at the Medibank Icehouse against the Sydney Bears.