AIHL notebook: Thunder sweep brace of road games

NEWCASTLE, NSW – We once again look at Adelaide Adrenaline, as they wrap up the second of their back to back road trips to NSW.
 
After their convincing performances against Canberra and West Sydney on 21st and 22nd, they were left as mere spectators on their recent journey. Losing to league leaders Newcastle North Stars 5-2 on Saturday 28th, then again to the in form Sydney Bears on Sunday 29th with the same scoreline.
 
The weekend started on the worst possible note, losing Captain Greg Oddy early in the first of the Newcastle game. Now with the coming weekend off, Adelaide will be hoping Oddy is fully fit for the return clash in Adelaide two weeks from now.
 
Charlie Huber, former NZIHL and Botany Swarm star along with Josh Harding were the two Adrenaline goal scorers. Beau Taylor got proceedings underway four minutes in for Newcastle and Kevin Day five minutes later. Add a late short handed goal and Newcastle were up 3-0 at the end of the first.
 
Newcastle’s Rob Lawrence double in the second and third, put Adelaide out of their misery and Newcastle back on the winners list after their shock loss to Melbourne Mustangs a week ago.
 
If Adelaide were hoping for some better fortune the following day at Baulkham Hills in Sydney, that would be short lived as the in form Bears tore the visitors apart. National team coach Vladimir Rubes with an early first period goal for his Bears.
 
Adelaide’s top points scorer and import Brett Liscomb equalized, only to have the Bears top and league’s second highest points scorer Tomas Landa, put a fortunate rebound past unsuspecting Peter King in net for Adrenaline.
 
Brady Johnston for the Bears and Brett Liscomb (his second) for Adelaide, added to the tally in the second and with the game in the balance Sydney sharpened their claws. Tomas Landa once again finding the back of the net along with Brett Nelson-Bond, putting the game to rest and Adelaide’s weekend with a 5-2 result.
 
What does this now mean for the hot and cold Adrenaline outfit with only a month to go in the regular season?
 
One week ago this team sat comfortably in second position in the Eastern Conference, 13 points clear of now third placed Perth Thunder who now only trail by seven. In a nutshell Adelaide cannot afford to drop a game and rely on other results. They now could find themselves fighting for the finals position right until the last regulation game, as they did last year. Right now Perth also have two games in hand and by the end of the coming weekend Adelaide could see that seven points cut to one.
 
If the Adrenaline were to make the finals this year, they would have to face up to Newcastle on home ice and the possibility of now facing the fast finishing Sydney Bears. The Bears are in a similar situation to Perth as rapidly close in on cross town rivals, West Sydney Ice Dogs for second position in the Bauer Conference.
 
Adelaide’s Head Coach, Ryan O’Handley is still upbeat about his team’s chances stating, “ We still have a good team here and at the beginning of the season, we would have been happy to share the points over the last two weekends which we’ve done.”
 

Photos courtesy of Tania Chalmers

Photos courtesy of Tania Chalmers


O’Handley also added, “It has been a tough season, now we just have to worry about us and winning. If we do that we don’t need to worry about what the others are doing, so we just need to keep winning.”
 
Adelaide Adrenaline have faced many adversities and not just this season but this is a club that knows how to survive.
 
In other results around the country, Perth Thunder travelled to Melbourne and surprise all by sweeping the Mustangs 7-2 then 24 hours later conference leaders Melbourne Ice 6-3. Perth are making their charge at Adelaide and not just satisfied to be playing their inaugural season. Could they emulate the amazing efforts of Adelaide Avalanche (now Adrenaline), by winning the championship in their first season?
 
Gold Coast Blue Tongues could not take the polish off the Canberra Knights losing 1-4 in Canberra, but completely turned that result around in Sydney the following day. Shutting out the Ice Dogs at the kennel 4-0. This for the Ice Dogs was on top of a shoot-out loss to the Bears the day before, in the battle of Sydney.
 
Photos courtesy of Tania Chalmers

Photos courtesy of Tania Chalmers


To round the weekend off Canberra paid a visit to Newcastle hoping for some ‘Steel City’ hospitality, which came in the form of a 1-9 drumming at the hands of league leaders the North Stars.
 
Newcastle are the only team to now guarantee themselves a place for the finals weekend on the 1st and 2nd of September. The final month promises to be one of the tightest races yet.
 
Contact Michael.Rozleja@prohockeynews.com
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