MELBOURNE, Australia – This weekend saw the final exhibition game of USA vs Canada being played out at Allphones Arena in Sydney. With each side going into Saturday’s game with a win apiece the decider was always going to be worth a look and in excess of 21,000 Sydneysiders took the opportunity to see how exciting this game of action can be. Canada triumphed and convincingly won with a nine goals to six score. Almost 40,000 total fans attended the international games in Sydney and Melbourne: a great testament to the potential reach of the game of ice hockey in Australia.
The AIHL had only had four games on the schedule this past weekend – but the low number didn’t dull the action. There were some thumping wins and outstanding individual performances. The league ladder remains fluid and outcomes unpredictable making for exciting match ups all season.
Melbourne Mustangs racked up a high score on Saturday in their only game for the weekend defeating the Canberra Knights 10 goals to one. Mustangs’ top performers were Jamie Bourke with an inspiring 5 goals and Pat O’Kane with 2 goals. For the first time in their short history, the Mustangs are in playoff contention with a spot in the top four on the ladder. This blow out was only the beginning of a disastrous weekend in Melbourne for the Knights who also copped another whopping on Sunday losing to the Melbourne Ice on Sunday 16 goals to zip. The Knights now find themselves needing to regroup before facing a threatening Thunder in a double-header in Perth next weekend. Perth hometown fans are revved up with their team’s improving performance and will be a parochial crowd to conquer.
The highlight performance of the weekend went to Adelaide Adrenaline, who slowly but convincingly beat the top two teams on the ladder in their hometown rinks. The fun began on Saturday when the Adrenaline swept into Newcastle and defeated the second placed North Stars who were favoured by home rink crowd and an exceptional recent win rate with a score of five goals to three. The Adrenaline followed up on Sunday with a convincing win against the number one team in the league, the Sydney Ice Dogs in Liverpool four goals to one. Josef Rezec was impressive with a hat-trick of goals. Adrenaline will be hoping their home advantage next weekend will see them repeat their success in their double-header against North Stars and they will then be knocking on the door for a top four position on the league ladder.
Next weekend will also see the Bears hitting the road and heading to Melbourne to play Ice and Mustangs and we’ll see if the Icehouse home advantage continues intimidate.
Results at a glance
Saturday 22nd June
Melbourne Mustangs 10 @ Canberra Knights 1
Adelaide Adrenaline 5 @ Newcastle North Stars 3
Sunday 23rd June
Melbourne Ice 16 @ Canberra Knights 0
Adelaide Adrenaline 4 @ Sydney Ice Dogs 1