ADELAIDE, Australia – It may well have been a quieter round of AIHL hockey this weekend with only five games played but that did not dampen the enthusiasm of winning teams as the anticipation of inclusion in the play-offs escalates. The weekend delivered action packed close games on Saturday in stark contrast to absolute thrashings of the bottom dwellers on Sunday.
On Saturday the Sydney Ice Dogs travelled to Newcastle to sort out first from second and the Ice Dogs were victorious scoring 5 goals to North Stars 3. Ice Dog’s Matt Puntereri and Simon Barg scored two apiece and David Dunwoodie scored the final goal. Ice Dogs are deserving of their top position on the AIHL ladder and this vital win shores up their spot in the finals.
In Melbourne the local derby was played out on Saturday with Melbourne Mustangs meeting Melbourne Ice and Mustangs comfortable win was a surprise result. The scoreline of 4 goals to 2 was impressive and Jack Wolgemuth was an exciting opener delivering Mustangs first two goals. Pat O’Kane and Jamie Bourke followed up with one apiece. Mustangs are digging their nails in deeper to hold onto the fourth spot and that elusive entry into the playoffs and would be feeling confident given their rapidly improving form and home advantage in the finals. However, they have a tough run and their improvement need to remain on its current trajectory to see them well positioned in September.
The home crowd in Canberra were disappointed on Saturday that their team could not muster a victory despite opening well with the first two goals by Kai Miettinen and Mikko Jortikka. From that point on, Canberra Knights were kept scoreless by the Sydney Bears and the Bears went on to score the last three goals of the match with two great goals by Michael Schlamp and one goal by Jan Koubek delivering a scoreline of Sydney Bears 3 to Canberra Knights 2. It may not be too early to hand the wooden spoon to the Knights and they must now look to 2014 and the opportunity next season offers for their road back to contender status.
On Sunday Newcastle North Stars went looking for victory, coming off their defeat, and travelled to Baulkham Hills to meet the Sydney Bears coming off their victory. Unfortunately for the Bears they learnt the hard way that beating a top team is much harder than a bottom one. The 7 goals to 1 drubbing was not unexpected by home fans but hard to take all the same. The North Stars had two terrific performers with Pier Cotnoir and Jeff Martens each achieving a hat-trick and Tim Stanger the single.
The final game of the round saw another thrashing with top of the ladder Ice Dogs beating bottom of the ladder Canberra Knights 8 goals to 1. Once again Ice Dog’s Simon Barg and Matt Puntereri were the influential goal scorers: Simon delivered a hat-trick and Matt Puntereri was impressive with another two goals and both are moving up the goal scoring leader board.
Next week sees another short round with Melbourne Mustangs and Sydney Ice Dogs taking advantage of the break to prepare for the finals countdown. Perth Thunder travel to Adelaide for the double header against Adrenaline, an extraordinarily important weekend of games for both to keep in touch with the final spot in the playoffs. Melbourne Ice travel north to play Newcastle North Stars on Saturday and Sydney Bears on Sunday and the Ice would be hoping to bank at least one victory on the road. In Baulkham Hills the Sydney Bears will play host to the Canberra Knights so will hope to achieve at least one win from the weekend.
Results at a glance
Saturday 3rd August
Sydney Ice Dogs 5 @ Newcastle North Stars 3
Melbourne Mustangs 4 @ Melbourne Ice 2
Sydney Bears 3 @ Canberra Knights 2
Sunday 4th August
Newcastle North Stars 7 @ Sydney Bears 1
Sydney Ice Dogs 8 @ Canberra Knights 1