|Mustangs down Adrenaline 6-2 in season opener
Christian Isackson scored two goals on debut and the Melbourne Mustangs took a 6-2 victory in their 2019 AIHL season opener over the Adelaide Adrenaline on Saturday night.
A 4-goal first period set the tone for the game as the Mustangs jumped out in front and never really took the foot off of the accelerator, taking all three points at the O’Brien Icehouse in the annual ANZAC day game.
Pat O’Kane, now in his 7th AIHL season, opened the scoring for the Mustangs just 38 seconds into the game with a beautiful wrist shot and the home team had an early 1:0 lead.
Adelaide had an early 5-on-3 after consecutive penalties to both Troy Robertson and Andrew Erzen, but the power play never really got going, failing to score and keeping the Mustangs in front.
Christian Isackson then scored his first AIHL goal, after stuffing home a rebound off of a Brad Apps shot that ricocheted off the kickplate, putting it past Jesse Gordichuk and extending the lead to 2:0.
Mitch Humphries grabbed another one only 23 seconds later to make it 3:0 and force the Adrenaline in to taking a time out. It didn’t do much to blunt the Mustangs momentum, as Jamie Bourke potted another one with 1:16 remaining in the frame and it was 4:0 Mustangs going into the first intermission.
Shots were 16-5 in favour of the Melbourne side.
The Adrenaline found a bit more composure in the second.
After killing off a penalty to Alexandre Gauthier, forward Nathaniel Benson scored his second career AIHL goal after some nice work from Joey Rezek at the blue line, pulling it back to 4:1 with 91 seconds gone in the second.
Adelaide also had another opportunity to reduce the deficit on the power play after a roughing penalty to Brendan McDowell, but they could not generate the opportunities or find a way past Jaden Pine-Murphy.
O’Kane nearly had his second goal moments later on a short-handed breakaway opportunity, only to be denied by Gordichuk on a beautiful post-to-post pad save. O’Kane then hit the post on his next shift but the score remained 4:1.
Adelaide then found themselves without Steve Best after he was given a 2+10 minute penalty, following a controversial check to the head of Apps at the blue line. Rezek was then given a misconduct for disputing the penalty and the Adrenaline found themselves without two of their best players for the next 12 minutes.
Adelaide would head into the break 4:1 down.
The third period developed into an arm wrestle with the pace of the game slowing down.
Adelaide got both Best and Rezek back but still could not score, until recently returned Mighty Roo Zach Boyle put one past Pine-Murphy to halve the deficit to 4:2 with 9:26 to go in regulation.
It would be a short-lived comeback as the Mustangs turned the heat up again, with Isackson adding his second with 4:51 remaining followed by Matt Anderson scoring off a redirection to ice the game 6-2 and sealing the three points for the Mustangs.
Pine-Murphy stopped 14 from 16 shots faced in the win, while Gordichuk turned aside 44 of 50 shots in the loss.
Mustangs’ assistant coach Jon Moses was happy with his side’s performance.
“The boys worked hard and were rewarded with the fruits of their hard work,” Moses said.
“I think the pressure from the get-go was what broke the game open in the first period.”
He also had praise for new recruit Christian Isackson.
“He’s one of those all-rounder players that can do it all and he was great for us tonight,” Moses said.
Adelaide take on the Melbourne Ice at the O’Brien Icehouse on Sunday, while the Mustangs travel to Perth for a double header against the Thunder on April 27.