|Ice Blacks dominate Thunder in big win
The New Zealand Ice Blacks ended their series against Perth Thunder on a high with a commanding 6-2 win at Perth Ice Arena on Tuesday night.
Two points each from Nicholas Henderson (2 goals) and Gino Heyd (2 assists), along with three goals in under two minutes during the first period saw the Ice Blacks break open what had been a resolute Thunder defence through the first two games.
When the Thunder’s Jonathon Bremner opened the scoring midway through the first period, the vocal crowd hoped to see more of the same goalscoring freedom the home team had displayed in the first two games in which they tallied 15 goals.
The Ice Blacks had a different plan however, levelling straight back through Jeremy Chai just over a minute later.
When the Thunder took two quick penalties, the visitors didn’t hesitate to add two more goals in just 20 seconds on the ensuing power plays to snatch a 3-1.
The goals, scored by Connor Harrison and Berton Haines, saw the New Zealanders lead 3-1 into the break.
New Zealand asserted their dominance early in the second period, with goals to Nicholas Henderson and Maxwell Macharg early in the second seeing young goaltender Mark McCann relieved of his duties for the night, replaced by Dan Wilkinson.
Thunder defenceman Jamie Woodman felt for the young goaltender.
“That’s tough for him, he actually played really well,” Woodman said. “It’s tough to play in a game like that when you just get peppered with shots.”
Down 5-1, the Thunder were able to sustain some attacking pressure on the Ice Blacks as the second period progressed, and had a goal waved off with seconds remaining in the period after a quick whistle from the referee.
When Ice Black Connor Harrison scored unassisted early in the third after intercepting a pass in the neutral zone, there was little hope of a comeback for the home team.
Although Toni Kluuskeri added a goal shortly after, it proved too little too late for the Thunder, who were comprehensively beaten but still claimed the series 2-1.
Ice Blacks coach Janos Kaszala was pleased with the contribution throughout the line-up.
“The goaltending was good, every single guy contributed to this win,” Kaszala said. “Every line scored tonight so that’s all you can ask for as a coach.”
Thunder coach Dave Kenway was also circumspect about the loss.
“Even strength was perfect,” Kenway said. “The boys controlled the puck and moved it well. We had a few penalties, we tried some young local talent in goals as well, gave them a bit of a chance at this level to see how they produce.”
Both teams now shift their attention with the Ice Blacks heading to South Africa for the Division 2 Group B World Championships, while the Thunder prepare for the AIHL season, with the club’s first game on May 2 against the Sydney Bears in Sydney.