Ice seal most successful season in downing Thunder
Monday, August 22, 2016 - Submitted by Adam Ioannidis
Melbourne Ice responded to the Perth Thunder’s win on Saturday with a 5-2 win at O’Brien Group Arena on Sunday night.
The top two teams did not disappoint over the weekend in a potential Grand Final match up.
The win sees the Melbourne Ice seal the best regular season in AIHL history, moving to 66 points, beating their own record of 65 points from 2006 and 2011.
“We were really happy,” Ice Coach Brent Laver said. “After yesterday we just wanted to address a few small things. I thought we were pretty loose yesterday so just wanted to tighten right up, and I thought we did that.”
The Thunder, having sealed second spot on the AIHL ladder, started young goalie Mark McCann for the first time this season, making 37 saves from 42 shots and giving league-leading goalie Thomas Heemskerk his first break of the season.
The Ice opened up scoring for the evening with a wrist shot from Tommy Powell, claiming a power play goal just five minutes in.
With a minute remaining in the period, Cassian Delsar tapped in a Todd Graham pass.
The Thunder Assistant Coach Darin Bryce was pretty happy with the team’s performance.
“We were actually quite satisfied with it”, Bryce said. “We came into the game, we knew we had nothing, I think both teams had nothing to play for at the end of the day.”
The second period definitely saw Perth step up and take things to the next level.
Benjamin Breault’s slap shot went straight past Davenport to get the Thunder on the scoreboard just over a minute in.
“We still needed to solidify the things that we were doing right, had a shaky first but the second period we won the period, played a strong second period,” Bryce said.
The Ice’s Lasse Lassen struck back with a penalty kill seven minutes later, thanks to a well-placed wrist shot after manoeuvring the puck around the players to get a good opening angle on the goals.
The Thunder ended the period with a tight angled wrist shot from Dorr on a breakaway after Davenport tried to smother the puck, leaving the goals open, setting the scene for a great finish to the game at 3–2 with a period to play.
“We were so pleased with our first period, and then we had a, not a sloppy second, but I thought more credit to them, they stepped up, and then I think we took it back in the third,” Laver thought.
The third period was even more physical than the previous, with players on both teams slamming each other into the side boards and just playing a super intense and fast paced game.
Ten and a half minutes in, Jason Baclig gets the puck dead centre in front of the goals, where he sends it flying with a slap shot to the back of the net on a power play.
Perth’s Dorr was given a penalty shot late in the period to give his side a sniff, but was unable to capitalise on the opportunity, before Lassen closed out the game with a wrister past McCann for a 5-2 win.
“I thought our speed was good, I thought our read and react was far better than yesterday,” Laver said. “I thought we came out with a fair bit of step. Look I think we're in a good place, all three lines are really contributing and penalty kills were good.”
Both teams will compete in the AIHL Semi-finals next Saturday, with Melbourne Ice taking on CBR Brave, and Perth Thunder facing Newcastle North Stars.